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Bristol VA - The Birthplace of Country Music

Updated on March 4, 2015
Located on the west side of the Tennessee part of the city.
Located on the west side of the Tennessee part of the city. | Source

Award Winning City

Bristol is located in the Kingsport-Bristol Area of two southern US States. It spans portions of both Virginia and Tennessee as well as being located in the Southwestern Virginia Workforce Investment Act Area.

In addition, Bristol VA is a twin city to Bristol, Tennessee, located just on the other side of the state line that runs down the center of State Street. They share one city flag, with the seals of both cities on a red and blue background.

The City of Bristol extends from SW Virginia to Eastern Tennessee and, along with Kingsport and Jonson City, make up the local Tri-Cities Area business and employment market.

Bristol VA was recognized recently as one of the 25 Best Small Cities in America for Jobs and Business by economists, workforce specialists, and financial entities such as Money Magazine . Further, this city was recognized in the Best 100 Communities for Music Education in America.

In addition to all of this, Bristol has received the Gold Award For Municipal Excellence in 2008 as one of the top 8 cities named by the National League of Cities out of 187 city nominations.

Bristol is divided by State Street, an east-west corridor.

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A markerBristol TN -
Bristol, TN, USA
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B markerBristol VA -
Bristol, VA, USA
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Gateway Then and Now

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Permission is granted by USER:Aplomado re: GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version. File licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License
Permission is granted by USER:Aplomado re: GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version. File licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License
Permission is granted by USER:Aplomado re: GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version. File licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

Beaver Flats and Solar Hill

Previous to 1871, most of Bristol's residents lived in the current downtown location then known as Beaver flats.

After city expansion in 1971, a century later, people began spreading out toward what was named Solar Hill, the site of current ongoing revitalization projects (see the map below).

In 1869 must after the American Civil War, an astronomical observatory was located atop a hill in the City of Bristol. It was built in order to provide a view of an approaching Total Solar Eclipse in August of 1869. Later, this area was christened Solar Hill in honor of the defunct observatory. Solar Street runs along the top of the hill itself.

This historic area is full of stories about American Presidents that passed through Bristol. These include tales about President Andrew Jackson, who stayed often at the King mansion near the hill and Andrew Johnson, who was injured in a stagecoach accident there. The Solar Hill Historic District provides many walking tours for tourists, schools, and residents, as well as the annual Christmas Historic Homes tour that help Tri-Cities Christian Schools.

This revitalized area has been listed on the US National Registry of Historic Places and has increased the local economy through Tourism and related industries.

The ongoing revitalization project restores older homes and raises historic markers at appropriate sites. Residents of this area include large estate owners as well as owners of smaller properties. Restoration and expansion is ongoing at the historic train station and public library in this area as well.

Solar Hill, Bristol VA

A markerSolar Hill, Bristol VA -
Solar Street, Bristol, VA 24201, USA
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The Local NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Track.

Grandstand at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Located at 151 Speedway Blvd, Bristol TN.
Grandstand at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Located at 151 Speedway Blvd, Bristol TN. | Source


An affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the minor leaguer Bristol Pirates plays its home games at DeVault Memorial Stadium. Virginia High School also plays its Bearcats ball players here. The high school participates in a regional Scholastic Bowl, Drum & Bugle Corps competitions and separate drumline events.

The Bristol TN Municipal Stadium (Stone Castle) supports football and soccer. It was built during the FDR administration as part of the WPA and the New Deal. Viking Hall in Tennessee holds the Tennessee High School basketball games.

Sports in Bristol

  • NASCAR Racing
  • Bristol Drag Speedway and Dragway
  • Bristol Whitesox baseball
  • Camping and Hiking
  • Golf Courses
  • Skiing
  • Virigina Intermont College sports
  • Whitewater Rafting and other water sports

The Carter Family - Wild Wood Flower

Birthplace of Country Music

In 1998, the United States Congress honored Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia by naming it The Birthplace of Country Music. An association was founded by the same name in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution.

In 1927 and 1928, Raph Peer set up recording studios in Bristol to record talented country music artists of the era. These singers incuded Ernest Stoneman, The Carter Family. The Stamps Quartet, Jimmy Rodgers, The Dixie Mountaineers,and many others. many of these artists have been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

An elaborate website is set up at Birthplace of County Music for in-depth information, museum quality photos, contests, musical events, and other materials.

In downtown Bristol, Food City company has donated a large sum of money to find the development of a downtown cultural heritage center to showcase the music recorded in Bristol. This is $12,000,000 project that is creating new jobs for Bristol and the Tri City Area as well. Currently, the Paramount Center for the Performing Arts on State Street (shared by Virginia and Tennessee) hosts many country music events and stars.

Jimmy Rodgers - Waiting for a Train

Roni Stoneman and son Robert in 2008

Largest Employers

  • Sprint United Management - The Sprint history in Southwestern Virginia and Upper Eastern Tennessee dates back to the start of telephone service in the Tri Cities Area. The company's developing Telecenter in Bristol will offer increased numbers of clients with cutting edge Call Center and Telemarketing services. The facility is based ona $2,000,000 investment that provides 500 or more new jobs.
  • Electro Mechanical Corporation - Electrical power company founded in 1958.
  • Food City - well known regional grocery chain.
  • Officemax Inc - Office supplies and furniture.
  • Bristol City Public Schools - Education.
  • Strongwell
  • City of Bristol - City Government.
  • Exide Technologies

Top 10 Jobs

The highest demand for workers in the short term, until approximately 2016, include the following positions:

  1. Social and Human Service Assistants
  2. Medical Assistants
  3. Home Health and Personal Aides
  4. Computer Software Applications Engineers
  5. Social Workers
  6. Mainstream Preschool Teachers
  7. Network and Computer Systems Admins
  8. EMTs and Paramedics
  9. Paralegals and Legal Assistants
  10. Market Research Analysts

Longer term, the Top 10 most urgent employment needs from 2018 are found in the following occupations:

  1. Healthcare Practitioners and Technicians
  2. Food & Beverage Preparation and Service
  3. Education, Training, and Library positions
  4. Sales and Related jobs, such as retail sales person
  5. Healthcare Support
  6. Health Diagnosing and Treating Professionals
  7. Office/Administrative Support
  8. Primary, Secondary, and Special Education Teachers
  9. Transportation and Material Moving/Freight
  10. Nursing, Psychiatric, and Home Health Aides

Higher Education

  • Virginia Intermont College - VIC is accredited by 17 separate organizations. The college offers Adult Degree Programs, traditional degrees, and an Honors Program. Degree programs include Art, Business, Biology, Education, Equine Studies, Photography, Pre-Law and Paralegal Studies, Psychology, Religious Studies, and several others.

Other Local Institutions of Higher Learning:

  • Graham Bible College
  • National College of Business & Technology
  • Virgina Academy of Hairstyling

© 2008 Patty Inglish

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