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Book puts Roan Mountain’s rich history in the spotlight

Carter Countians can take a trip in time through Roan Mountain’s rich history in the pages of local writer RobertPhoto by Brandon Hicks Sorrell’s new book “Images of America – Roan Mountain.”
The book, Sorrell’s first, features more than 220 photos documenting Roan Mountain’s people and places through the past decades. The book, published by Arcadia Publishing, covers the entire Roan Mountain area, including the Roan Mountain village, Burbank to Hampton Creek, Shell Creek to Buck Mountain, Ripshin to Crabtree and rural Roan Mountain.
For Sorrell, the project was a chance to get to know more about a community that has long intrigued him.
“I have always been interested in Roan Mountain,” Sorrell said. “It has a great history. The scenery is beautiful. I enjoy hiking, so that is how I became more familiar with Roan Mountain. It has an interesting history with interesting characters.”
Getting to know Roan Mountain led Sorrell to get to know many people who live in Roan Mountain now, or had ties to the town in the past. Sorrell worked to collect photographs of Roan Mountain through the decades.
“I enjoyed meeting new people and hearing all their stories, about riding the Tweetsie and the movie theater that Roan Mountain used to have,” Sorrell said. “It was interesting and I learned a lot.”
Sorrell looked for members of the community with historic pictures to share, stories to tell or knowledge about Roan Mountain’s past. One of those people was historian Durward Julian. Sorrell said Julian, 98, was able to provide back stories and information for many of the pictures that were submitted for the book.
This collaboration with the Roan Mountain community provided Sorrell with more than 1,000 photographs.
“It was really difficult to choose which pictures would be included in the book,” he said. “I hated leaving any of them out.”
Could all the extra pictures mean a second Roan Mountain photo history book is in the lineup? Sorrell says it is a possibility.
“In a couple of years, I probably will do another book,” he said. “A lot of people have suggested I do that.”
But before he focuses on that, Sorrell will be promoting his current book after its release on June 16.
He will be at the Roan Mountain Rhododendron Festival on June 21 and 22 with copies of the book for purchase. He will be at Johnny and June’s Vintage Boutique in downtown Elizabethton on June 23 from 4 to 6 p.m., and at Barnes and Noble in Johnson City on June 29 from 2 to 4 p.m.
The book will be available at different places throughout Roan Mountain and Elizabethton and is already available for pre-sale purchase on amazon.com and the Arcadia Publishing website.
Sorrell’s next book is already in the works: “Fire Towers of the Blue Ridge.” This book is being published by The History Press and will focus on fire towers from Georgia to Virginia.
Sorrell said he is collecting information, pictures and stories about fire towers. He can be contacted at 620-4781 and rsorrell@bristolnews.com.