Insight into Recreating the Route

Here’s a peek inside my brain and the mental contortions I struggle thru while trying to solve a 100 year old mystery with so little information.
The 65 miles between Bristol and Morristown via Kingsport has given more difficulty than ALL of the remaining 1300+ miles!

From the diary, this is what I have to work with.
1. He leaves Kingsport for Morristown.
2. He takes a ferry across the “Tenn. River”,
“right at this point the river is not swift enough to run a ferry across so it has to be run by an engine.”

“Do you mean to say you come down here from your house, run your this engine, take me and motorcycle across, charge me only a dime and then cross back? ” He said ,”well, that’s been the price for motorcycles ever since motorcycles have been running.”

3. “The next town on the route was Sulpher Springs city”

4. “A little while later I came to a fork in the road, a sign said take right road to “sulphur springs”. I thought well, That’s my next town, so I took right road, it started up a mountain side, after I had gone about a mile up a steep grade I reached the top where there were several springs. The road ended!!! There was a Sunday school picnic of nothing but girls!”

5. “She said, “you mean Sulpher Springs CITY. You take the left road at the forks for there”

6. “I got back to the forks… took the left road… the road was good along here and I just about kept my word about going a mile-a-minute…(had to stop very briefly) …For the next 8 miles into Sulpher Springs City I made a lovely streak down the road. Then after I left Sulpher Springs City I made another lovely streak for 25 miles into—Morristown,Tenn.”

To summarize:

I have to find the “powered” ferry. I have identified the following crossings, north to south.

1. Cloud Ford
36°35’22.91″N 82°36’21.70″W

2. Old Cloud Ford
36°32’57.93″N 82°35’27.50″W

3. Netherland Ford
36°31’33.31″N 82°33’31.38″W

4. Pactolus Ferry
36°30’3.58″N 82°30’51.93″W

5. Childress Ferry
36°30’5.86″N 82°29’4.65″W

6. Shipley Ferry
36°28’54.72″N 82°28’27.72″W

Note fords are further upstream. Also keep in mind that fords sometimes also had ferries if the water level was high or someone strung a shallow drafting boat across. These were often pulled across with cable or chain by hand or by motor mounted on the bank.

This is also relevant because of what Charles says, “not swift enough”. Deep drafting ferries have keels and can use the current the way sails use the wind.

As late as the 1930’s Cloud Ford didn’t have a bridge.

That brings me to another question. As early as 1864 there was a bridge across the North Fork of the Holston River at Netherland Rd. Why did he take a ferry? Was that bridge un-crossable at the time? Was a temporary ferry in operation there? I really don’t think that based on he said, “well, that’s been the price for motorcycles ever since motorcycles have been running. (The answer I found to the Netherland Road Bridge is below.)

I believe that maybe the bridge was not completed for vehicle traffic in 1916.
Link picture shows it not completed 1914-1915
View of Holston River :: Selected Photographs

This is a CRITICAL point to find because it will define to search area for EVERYTHING else.
He states, “The next town on the route was Sulpher Springs city”. However, it cannot be Sulphur Springs, TN (36°20’52.73″N 82°32’31.47″W) because it’s 40 miles from Morristown as the crow flies.

Before he arrives at this historically lost Sulpher Springs City, he gets lost. Since he’s traveling south, I’m looking for a road on the right that doesn’t cross a mountain and has “several springs” at the end.

I believe he may have spelled it right as Sulpher, but haven’t r/o Sulphur.

What you see are the following:

1. The bold white lines define the search area.
2. The green line defines 25 miles to Morristown.
3. The blue line defines next 8 miles into Sulpher Springs City.

The springs he got lost at are roughly around or north of the blue line.
4. Red are roads that existed on or before 1916.
5. Yellow pins are communities lost or present.
6. Blue droplets are springs and not a SINGLE one meets the criteria.