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The Birthplace of Country Music: Bristol Tennessee/Virginia

Updated on November 1, 2014

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol


The new Birthplace of Country Music Museum should be your first stop in your visit to Downtown Bristol. The community is very proud of this latest attraction. The non-profit organization describes their mission in this way on their Facebook page:

Our mission is to enhance Bristol's role in the birth and development of country music through Birthplace of Country Music Museum, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, educational outreach and programming.

The Birthplace of Country MusicĀ® Museum, in affiliation with the Smithsonian Institute, tells the story of our music heritage. From the Bristol Sessions and beyond, our region continues to influence music around the world. The museum embodies this accomplishment and promotes Bristol as the Birthplace of Country Music.

Come for the music, but don't miss the rest

Bristol is the Birthplace of Country Music and fans flock from far and wide to experience the roots of the music they love. Bristol is working hard to become a wonderful and educational mecca for those wanting to know more about those 1927 recordings. The beautiful new Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Downtown Bristol will not only provide a museum environment but a performing arts center, too.

Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion is held each September in Downtown Bristol, and it has grown to be a festival of national importance. It has evolved from a predominantly bluegrass event to a wonderful, magical mix of all kinds of music, providing a showcase for the best of unique string performers.

Scroll down to experience some of the sights and sounds of Bristol. The music is fresh and ever-evolving, and the history is rich. Come for the music, and don't forget to see all the rest of what Bristol has to offer, too.

Poster from the 2009 Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, found on Wikipedia Commons.

Tony Rice Unit - Playing at Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion

Barbie Crafts
Barbie Crafts

Twin Cities

Bristol Virginia-Tennessee

Bristol is unique in that it is actually two separate cities in two states, working together on many levels but still functioning as separate city governments. The state line runs right down the main street of town which is called State Street. The marker in the photograph was once embedded in the center of State Street, right on the state line.

Yes, there is a Bristol Virginia Police Department and a Bristol Tennessee Police Department, a Bristol Virginia Fire Department and a Bristol Tennessee Fire Department. When parades march down State Street, it is always an impressive sight to see corresponding fire trucks and police cars slowly travelling side by side down State Street, representing their side of the city. The cooperation among the Twin Cities of Bristol is amazing. Well, that is until V-T week when the two area high schools face off for the football game of the season. While it doesn't actually count for either team's standing in their state's division, it counts quite a lot on Sunday morning as local residents take a seat in Sunday School with a smug look on their face!

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

The Bristol Sign

Bristol VA - TENN: A Good Place to Live

The Bristol Sign is known far and wide as a symbol of Bristol. The state line between Virginia and Tennessee runs right up State Street and under the Bristol sign. The beloved sign celebrated its 100th birthday in 2010 with a host of festivities sponsored by the Celebrate Bristol Organization. The utility workers on both sides of town share the maintenance of the sign's light bulbs.

There are very few structures of this kind standing across the nation, and the community is very proud of the Bristol Sign. You will find it located near the Bristol Train Station on State Street in Downtown Bristol

The Carter Family singing

A tour of Downtown Bristol

Wikpedia Commons
Wikpedia Commons

Bristol Motor Speedway

4th largest sports venue in USA

The Bristol Motor Speedway is probably already on your list of things to see in Bristol even if you are not a NASCAR fan. In the NASCAR world, this short track has an exciting history of bumps, bruises, wrecks, and yellow flags. This impressive arena seats 160,000 people and continues to be a mainstay of the Bristol economy. The adjoining Thunder Valley Dragway is also worth a look. Besides the auto races, there are many other activities going on at the racetrack on any given weekend.

Learn more about Bristol Motor Speedway

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

The Grand Guitar

Still a landmark

Although the museum housed within is now closed, the Grand Guitar at 3245 West State Street is still an iconic landmark for this area. Built in 1983 by Joe Morrell, this three story Martin guitar is 70 ft. long. This is on the far end of West State Street near the Bristol Regional Hospital.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons
From Wikipedia Commons
From Wikipedia Commons

Handpainted Murals

Art with a unique Bristol flavor

If you take a leisurely drive up and down State Street in Downtown Bristol, you will notice the beautiful murals depicting Bristol's legacy as the Birthplace of Country Music. Stop and look at the detail represented in these murals. You will be impressed.

A little bit about the Birthplace of Country Music

South Holston Lake

TVA's South Holston Dam

South Holston Lake is a true asset to the Bristol Community providing many opportunities for recreation. The South Holston Dam was started before World War II and completed after the war in 1950. Old-timers in Bristol can tell you about how they flooded a town to construct the lake, just filling in with water over farms and fences. Here is additional information from the TVA website:

"The earth-and-rockfill dam is 285 feet high and reaches 1,600 feet across the South Fork Holston River.

South Holston Dam is a hydroelectric facility. It has one generating unit with a net dependable capacity of 44 megawatts. Net dependable capacity is the amount of power a dam can produce on an average day, minus the electricity used by the dam itself.

In a year with normal rainfall, the water level in South Holston Reservoir varies about 25 feet from summer to winter to provide seasonal flood storage.

The reservoir has a flood-storage capacity of 252,800 acre-feet."

Have you ever been to Bristol?

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    • Larry50 LM profile image

      Larry50 LM 

      6 years ago

      Oh yeah. Interesting town.

    • Barbie Crafts profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbie Crafts 

      6 years ago from United States

      @SheilaMilne: Oh, lucky you!! I have wanted to see England since I was a child. Thanks for reading.

    • Barbie Crafts profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbie Crafts 

      6 years ago from United States

      @microfarmproject: Hope you can come~ Thanks for visiting virtual Bristol and taking time to say Hey!

    • Barbie Crafts profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbie Crafts 

      6 years ago from United States

      @MJsConsignments: Oh, Thank you for blessing my lens! Jonesborough is a charming town, just starting their Old Jonesborough Days this week. An interesting mention is that they did cancel their fireworks because of the dry, dry conditions as to not endanger their historic buildings.

      Thanks again for reading!

    • MJsConsignments profile image


      6 years ago from Central Ohio, USA

      Great job on this lens. I have been to Bristol (had a sister-in-law) who lived in Jonesboro, TN) but I never realized that the city was actually in Virginia too. I learn something new every day! Squid Angel Blessed.

    • SheilaMilne profile image


      6 years ago from Kent, UK

      I don't suppose Bristol in England counts, so, no. :)

    • rallo-smith profile image


      6 years ago

      I have been and loved it! Great lens about a great place.

    • Barbie Crafts profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbie Crafts 

      6 years ago from United States

      @designsbyharriet: Thank you!

    • microfarmproject profile image


      6 years ago

      I have not been, but may make the trip when I visit my sister who lives relatively close by.

    • designsbyharriet profile image


      6 years ago from Indiana

      I love lenses that are close to home. This one is quite good.

    • Barbie Crafts profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbie Crafts 

      6 years ago from United States

      @kerbev: Most of the photos were from Wikipedia Commons. I thought I had linked to there, but I am not seeing the link. I will need to check that. Thanks!

    • Barbie Crafts profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbie Crafts 

      6 years ago from United States

      @flycatcherrr: Thanks for reading!

    • flycatcherrr profile image


      6 years ago

      How interesting, a city in two states at once! No, I've never been, but you do a good job of 'selling' the trip, especially for music lovers.

    • kerbev profile image


      6 years ago from Upstate, NY

      Nice lens! I see that you've used your own photos which is great, but I recommend giving yourself credit for them so everyone knows they are yours. Maybe you could put your name with a link to your zazzle shop as the credit!


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