Butler Museum to commemorate 75th anniversary

Published 1:02 pm Monday, November 27, 2023

BY ROBERT SORRELL
The Museum of Butler plans to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the closing of the gates to Watauga Dam, which flooded the town of Butler.
On Dec. 1, 1948, the Tennessee Valley Authority closed the dam’s gates, according to museum volunteer Juanita Wilson.
At noon on Friday, the public is invited to join the museum in Butler as the community commemorates the 75th anniversary.
Wilson said museum volunteers will plant a tree in honor of Butler, “the town that wouldn’t drown,” as well as the 18 surrounding communities that were also affected by the dam’s construction.
The Museum of Butler will also feature a special Christmas tree during the Festival of Trees being held at the Johnson County Welcome Center from Dec. 2-22. The tree will feature many of the images portraying the events leading up to 1948.
The tree ceremony on Friday will be live-streamed on the museum’s Facebook page: @MuseumofButlerTN.
Butler has a long history, which is showcased at the town’s museum.
When the railroad came in 1902, it provided the means to reach markets with lumber, finished wood products, iron ore and farm produce, according to the museum. Local citizens, including students, were afforded a good means of transportation, the museum states on its website.
Butler flourished.
“An abundance of water resources made Butler a good location for habitation; however, the overabundance of water in the form of floods caused the town’s death knell,” the website states.
Following a deadly flood in 1940, the Tennessee Valley Authority made the decision to build a dam, which ultimately flooded the town of Butler.
Butler is often considered the only town ever flooded by the TVA.
The Museum of Butler opened in 2000 in honor of the memory of the families that had to move because of the construction of the dam, Wilson said.
The museum features hundreds of artifacts from Butler and the Watauga Valley area. It is open on weekends from May to October.

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