Given the growing number of tourists who are traveling to our region each year, the preservation and expansion of existing tourism assets is of vital importance.

One such tourism jewel is the Historic Crab Orchard Museum and Pioneer Park in Tazewell, an important local attraction that is also home to a number of annual events, including the popular Fiddlers Convention, Independence Day and Frontier Christmas gatherings.

The museum and pioneer park has been located along U.S. Route 19-460, near Tazewell, since its opening in 1978. Over the years, countless visitors and school children have toured the museum area, and others have participated in historical re-enactments on the pioneer park grounds.

The museum was back in the news last week with the announcement that Steven K. Knapp of Asheville, N.C., had assumed the duties of executive director of the facility. He succeeds long-time director Charlotte Whitted, who retired from the museum last fall.

“I am just tremendously excited about having the opportunity, and the possibilities going forward,” Knapp told the Daily Telegraph. “I’m particularly interested in the Revolutionary War and look forward to exploring program ideas related to that period..” 

Knapp received his bachelor’s of arts degree from Catawba College in History and his master’s degree at East Tennessee University (ETSU) in modern U.S. history with a special concentration in Appalachian history.

He has other ideas for the museum as well, including a focus on the region’s coal mining heritage and plans for new storyteller sessions that relate coal mining stories from the 1920-1940 era.

 The museum lost state funding in 2008 as a result of budget cutbacks and now relies on the county, foundations, businesses, donor support and ticket sales to operate. It is an important community asset, and is vital to tourism growth in our area.

Given the growing number of visitors to the Back of the Dragon in Tazewell, as well as the nearby Spearhead and Hatfield-McCoy trail systems, having attractions such as the Historic Crab Orchard Museum operational takes on an added level of importance.

We wish Knapp the best of luck ahead in guiding this important tourism asset, and look forward to all of the additional projects that are planned for the museum in the months and years ahead. 






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