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Holston River Greenway and Park History

The Holston River is a major river system of southwestern Virginia and East Tennessee. The three major forks of the Holston (North, Middle and South Forks) rise in southwestern Virginia and have their confluence near Kingsport, Tennessee. From there, the river flows roughly southwestward, just north of Bays Mountain, until it reaches its confluence with the French Broad River just east of downtown Knoxville. This confluence is considered to be the headwaters of the Tennessee River.

Although the present day Holston River ends at the French Broad River to form the Tennessee River in Knoxville, the river did not originally end there. Until 1933, the Holston River flowed past Knoxville and continued to its confluence with the Little Tennessee River at Lenoir City 51 miles downstream. At that point, the Tennessee River began.

The river was named after Stephen Holston, who built a cabin on the upper reaches of the river in 1746. Holston Mountain was named after the Holston River.

Holston River Park sits on land that was once part of the historic farm of the Reverend Samuel Carrick. Carrick was the first pastor of Knoxville’s First Presbyterian Church. He came to Knoxville from Virginia in 1792 and preached his first sermon here on an Native American mound near the Forks of the River. Carrick later founded the Lebanon Presbyterian Church and established his home overlooking the Holston River.




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