Erwin National Fish Hatchery

The Erwin National Fish Hatchery is one of more than 75 units in the National Fish Hatchery System administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service also manages over 500 national wildlife refuges and major fish and wildlife research laboratories across the country. As the Nation’s primary steward of fish and wildlife resources, the Service provides leadership in habitat and wetlands protection; fish and wildlife research and technical assistance; and in the conservation and protection of migratory birds, anadromous fishes, certain marine mammals, and threatened and endangered species.

Six raceways are available on weekends for viewing, although the lower raceways are closed to protect the valuable broodstock. A broodstock display pond is located by the information kiosk. A picnic pavilion and parking areas are provided for public use. During your visit please feel free to call upon us to answer any questions you may have concerning the hatchery.  Hatchery Hours:  7:00 am – 3:30 pm · Monday through Friday

Unicoi County Heritage Museum

The Unicoi County Heritage Museum, housed in a turn-of-the-century home originally built for the Superintendent of the National Fish Hatchery in Erwin, showcases the county’s history in uniquely themed rooms.

The house features the following themed rooms: Parlor, Blue Ridge Pottery Room, Butler’s Pantry, Community Room, Wildlife Room, Kitchen, Main Street, Clinchfield Railroad Room, Daughters of the American Revolution Room, History and War Rooms, Attic, Country Store, Greasy Cove Schoolhouse, and Amphitheatre.

In its day, it was one of the grandest homes in the Country. The years took a toll, and, by 1982, the stately old house had become dilapidated and almost impossible to heat. The Federal Government ordered its demolition. Mr. Ralph Erwin of the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce suggested the renovation of the house into a museum and center for community activities. The Chamber, working with the Hatchery Superintendent, Mr. Roger Schultz, signed an agreement with the United States Government that “Quarters #1” should become the Unicoi County Heritage Museum. On July 3, 1982, nine rooms were opened to the public.

A nature trail is located on the grounds of the museum.  A cassette narrative is available describing the plants and trees found on this 30-minute hike around the woods. The trees and plants are identified by markers along the trail.

  • Museum & shoppe hours:
    1:00-5:00 p.m. daily, May-October plus the four weeks daily prior to Christmas each year.
  • For school, club and other group outings, the museum can be opened other times by special request directed to the curator of the museum.

For further information, or reservations, telephone (423) 743-9449. If no answer, telephone (423) 743-8923 or (423) 743-7442.

Clinchfield Railroad Museum

Modeled to look like an old-fashioned train depot, the new Clinchfield Railroad Museum pays homage to Town of Erwin’s rich railroad history.  The museum is located adjacent to the Unicoi County Heritage Museum.  The museum also features a stage at the front of the building which may be used for performances and other functions, similar to those held at the former amphitheater. Inside, guests enter the lobby and then proceed into the large display room, which is filled with railroad collection memorabilia.  This display room also functions as a conference area and educational room feature PowerPoint and video abilities.

Beauty Spot & Unaka Mountain Overlook

View and explore the breathtaking scenery from one of the southern Appalachian’s highest elevation mountain balds.  The balds at Beauty Spot are maintained in a grassy stage, surrounded by rhododendrons and other native mountain plants.  Hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail from the scenic overlook of Beauty Spot or have a tailgate picnic at the Unaka Mountain Overlook and take in the scenic mountain views from this vantage point along Unaka Mountain Road.  A high clearance vehicle is recommended on Unaka Mountain Road and it is closed during the winter months.  For more information on Beauty Spot or the Unaka Mountain Overlook, contact the U.S. Forest Service at (423) 735-1500.

Battle of Red Banks

A historic marker in South Unicoi County indicates the site of the infamous Civil War Battle of Red Banks.  In 1864, the Union won a battle of mounted infantry and cavalry forces at Red Banks near the Nolichucky River.  On December 29, 1864, the Third Regiment of North Carolina mounted an infantry under Colonel George W. Kirk, engaged about 400 Confederate Infantry and Cavalry under Lt. Colonel James A. Keith at Red Banks of the Nolichucky.  Seventy-three Confederates were killed and thirty-two officers and privates were captured.  The Union forces sustained only three wounded men.

Rocky Fork

Approximately 6,000 acres of the near 10,000-acre Rocky Fork tract are located in Unicoi County. The other 4,000 acres are found in Greene, County.  The area is named for the creek that runs through its center and lies within the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and abuts the North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest.  The tract is home to several species in need of conservation including the peregrine falcon, east hellbender, and the Yonahlossee salamander. The tract is also a part of the Unicoi Bear Preserve and contains prime bear-breeding habitat.

Rocky Fork’s many resources provide a range of world-class recreational opportunities that have been attracting generations of visitors from across the country. About 1.5 miles of the Appalachian Trail crosses the southwest border of the property, and half the property can be seen from the trail. Sixteen miles of pristine blue-ribbon trout streams, including the waters of Lower Higgins Creek and Rocky Fork Creek, harbor exceptional populations of native brook trout. Rocky Fork also boasts habitat for game animals such as bear, turkey, deer and grouse.