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Visit Our Museum

Butler, Tennessee ... the Town That Would Not Drown!

As you enter our museum, one of the first items of historical signifance dates back to an earlier visitor to our area: Daniel Boone who had been here in 1769.  After many miles, his horse had become lame so he released it here along the creek. After two years he had completed his surveying and headed back home.  Here he once again met his fat and handsome horse, Roan, who easily recognized him!  So Daniel named this water Roan Creek after his horse. The best view of the creek is from the bridge on Hwy 167 where it connects into the waters of the Watauga Lake.


The Butler and Watauga Heritage Museum 

Residents and former alumni of the Watauga Academy had a dream to build a history museum. With the donation of 4.3 acres and $20,000 by Selma Curtis this dream became a reality. The lumber and materials were then furnished by the Shoun Lumber Co. of Butler. The building was modeled to look like the old Butler Train Depot. The museum was completed in 1999 by inmates of the NE State Correctional Facility just outside Mountain City. 

To create the interior displays, a $25,000 grant was awarded and the proceeds were used to hire two professional exhibit designers; Sam Yates of Ewing Gallery; U of T, Knoxville and Blair White; Reece Museum of ETSU, Johnson City, TN. For their outstanding accomplishments the board of Trustees was awarded this “First–Class Museum Plaque” in 2002 from the Museum Association of Tennessee. T


The Butler Museum is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation and exists solely through donations and admission fees, and sales here in our gift shop. Your contribution and proceeds from any purchases today will help us preserve our local history and history for generations to come. After the tour, feel free to visit the gift shop. 
Our story has three components or themes.  The first is the story of “old” Butler and its relocation to its current location. The second is the Watauga Academy that was the heart and soul of “Old” Butler.  The last is the building of the Watauga Dam. 


Step back in time in the W.S. Stout General Store!


W.S. Stout originally opened his business in 1930 along Roan Creek, just outside the town of Old Butler. The original location is now under more than 100 feet of water in the center of Watauga Lake. Stout built his store at a strategic location beside the tracks of the Southern Railway. His store carried just about anything that customers could want and anything that in stock that Stout could order.


As the TVA began their work building Watauga Dam storeowners began looking for new locations for their businesses so Stout picked the community of Pine Orchard, on the new state Highway 67 and operated there continuously until his death in 1995, becoming one of the longest operating general stores in Johnson County. In 2008, the current owners donated the old store to the Butler Museum.


One of the interesting features of the store is the trap door. If you didn’t have cash, you could trade your chicken for the goods. Just drop them in the trap door. Need a chicken? Just reach down and grab your pick. If these walls could talk!

Take a visit to the store, located a short walk across from the Museum. While you're there, play a game of checkers and imagine life in Butler back in the late 1940s!

American Veterans Memorial Walk

Here we pay tribute to local men and women who served our country.

Memorial Bricks are available for a donation to honor loved ones.

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