Old Butler (TN) Images of America

Micheal and Lanette Depew with the Butler Museum

In 1820, Ezekial “Zeke” Smith built a gristmill on the bank of Roan Creek, forming the community known as Smith Hill. Following the Civil War, it was renamed Butler in honor of Col. Roderick Random Butler. Much of the city’s early development can be attributed to the establishment of the Aenon Seminary in 1871 and the advent of the Virginia and South Western Railroad, which provided transportation for residents and the developing logging industry. In 1933, the scenic landscape of the Watauga Valley was altered forever when the Tennessee Valley Authority was created by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation. TVA provided electric power for the state and controlled the flooding of the rivers in the region. In December 1948, the gates of the Watauga Dam were closed and water began to fill the Watauga Reservoir until Butler, Tennessee, was laid to rest at the bottom of Watauga Lake. The residents of Butler and the surrounding communities were forced to relinquish, demolish, or relocate more than 125 homes and 50 businesses. 128 pages.

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