Steele Creek Park celebrates 50 years

Steele Creek Park celebrates 50 years

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Finally, we're seeing some good days to get outside and enjoy some warm weather.

Bristol is home to the third-largest municipal park in the state of Tennessee, Steele Creek Park.

Can you imagine the park without a lake? That's the way it was back in the late 1930s, when the idea for a park first surfaced.

This and many other facts have come up as the park starts to plan for its 50th anniversary this summer.

In the spring of 1964, Steele Creek Lake in the middle of Bristol, Tennessee's municipal park was just beginning to get full. In fact, there was a contest to give the exact time and date that it would be full. "There was a contest that was held for anybody to make an entry on their guess of when the lake was filled at the point that water began to flow over the spillway," says Parks and Recreation Director Terry Napier.

That time was 4 p.m. on June 7, 1964.

That's one of the many facts that Napier discovered as he began to look at the history of the park. "I found some things, but was kind of disappointed in the limited number of pictures and documents. But I've pieced together the first 25 years of the park pretty well," he said.

It began when the Tennessee Valley Authority began looking around the region at scenic places. One of those was Steele Creek and surrounding land. "Around that same time, the Department of the Interior was actually looking at that same area. It started either by taking or purchasing that land with the intent of it becoming an eventual state park," Napier says.

The start of World War II slowed things down, but it eventually became Bristol, Tennessee's municipal park. It's still heavily used by people all over the area today, with golf, disc golf, hiking, fishing, and generally just getting out in nature.

It's a huge asset that needs to be celebrated. "We haven't made a formal announcement, but June 6 will be the 50th anniversary of the park. We're still putting together the fine details. I believe that it will be a Friday, and the intent is to have some ceremony," Napier said.

It'll be a great time to give thanks that such a place exists within the city limits.

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