The fifth annual convention of the Southern Appalachian Good Roads Association, held in Roanoke, Virginia for two days in 1911, was highly successful toward accomplishing the purpose for which the organization was created.
A December 1908 local newspaper had this to say about Johnson City's anticipated growth: "To say that Johnson City will grow by leaps and bounds during the coming year will be stating nothing more than the truth and to back up the assertion herewith give you some of the facts gathered from those who know."
The eye-catching news in a local Feb. 28, 1903 newspaper was bold and to the point: "Beginning March 1st, Johnson City will be in total darkness." It seems that on that day the contract with the Electric Light Company for street lights expired, leaving a new contract pending. The city population that year was about 5,000.
Over the years, fires have struck downtown Johnson City, leveling some buildings and causing minor damage to others. Perhaps the biggest one occurred in May 1905 and destroyed almost everything within the boundaries of E. Main, S. Roan, Jobe (replaced by State of Franklin Road) and Spring streets. One notable structure, Johnson City's First Baptist Church, known as "The Little White Church," completely escaped the carnage in spite of the fact that it was wooden.
In mid-summer of 1891, Johnson City received a new much-needed water works system, which was long overdue that covered all parts of the growing city. For their faithful and untiring efforts in the construction of the new plant, the Watauga Water Company deserved the highest compliment.
Just minutes prior to midnight on May 2, 1905, a devastating fire struck Johnson City's downtown business district, resulting in considerable property damage. In today's feature, I will take readers on a time machine journey back to that evening to see exactly where the fire was located and the degree of damage it inflicted.
The late Sue Carr Eckstein, daughter of Paul Carr, co-owner of Carr Brothers, Inc., once shared her father's massive scrapbook with me. One local undated Johnson City Chronicle article dealt with the passing of former Johnson City mayor, William J. Barton, who I have written about several times over the years.
May 1904 saw Johnson City looking "pretty," according to the local newspaper. This was four years before the downtown streets were paved. "How pretty the town looks," it said, " in its robe of green trimmed with roses and other flowers. The new sidewalks are a great improvement, too. Let us hope they will be built to stand the stress of harsh weather and pedestrian's feet.
Ms. Cecile Mettetal McQueen sent me a letter containing a March 1978 newspaper clipping written by former Johnson City Press-Chronicle writer, Dorothy Hamill. The article dealt with Ms. McQueen's grandfather, Ray Albert Mettetal, who with his wife, Gwendolyn, resided at 1301 E. Holston in Johnson City.