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Here in the shadow of the Southern Appalachian mountains, Washington County's unique blend of attractions has continued drawing new settlers to the ridges and valleys traveled by Daniel Boone, David Crockett and other pioneers who helped settle the area. The fastest-growing county east of Knoxville, it is home to East Tennessee State University. With its colleges of medicine, nursing, pharmacy and public health, ETSU has played a major role in developing the top-flight health care services that make Washington County an attractive destination for everyone from retirees to young professionals with families.
The steep mountains, rolling hills and valleys surrounding the region are part of the Appalachian Ridge-and-Valley Province, and Johnson City is just west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Roan Mountain, with an elevation of over 6,000 feet is approximately 20 miles to the east of the city. Buffalo Mountain, a ridge over 2,700 feet high, is the location of a city park on the south side of town. Boone Lake, a TVA reservoir on the Holston and Watauga Rivers, is also partly within the city limits. The Nolichucky River flows close to Johnson City towards its southern side. Whitewater rafting and kayaking opportunities exist where that river flows from the North Carolina state line near Erwin.
A vibrant cultural and arts scene, plentiful outdoor recreation opportunities, and unique attractions such as downtown Jonesborough (Tennessee's oldest town) Historic Jonesborough and the Gray Fossil Museum draw visitors from around the world and add to residents' quality of life. The county's urban center, Johnson City, consistently ranks among the nation's most popular small metro areas for everything from raising a family and retiring to business-friendly climate and low cost of living.