US 321 undergoes a strangedirectional change at Elizabethton, Tenn. Until the early 1980s, US321 came north out of the Carolinas to Boone, N.C., where it turnedto the west and ran to Johnson City, Tenn. It ended there. Sometimeduring the early 80s, the route was extended from Johnson Citysouthwest through Greeneville and Newport to Gatlinburg, then toPigeon Forge, Townsend, and so on before ending near Lenoir City atI-40. Knowing that US 321 ran south from Johnson City into NorthCarolina, I found it odd when I realized that the road in thatdirection was signed "North US 321" out of Gatlinburg toward Newport.Somewhere along the line, I knew it had to change directions andswitch from going north to going south. That switching point is atthe intersection with US 19E at Elizabethton.
As you approach theintersection southbound on 19E, you see this sign. Note the lack ofdirectional signs:
If you keep going straight on19E, toward Boone, you see this sign:
But if you turn right, towardJohnson City, here's what you see:
So, no matter how you leaveElizabethton on US 321, you're heading south! (Notice that TN 67doesn't change its direction, east is still east and west is stillwest.
If you approach Elizabethtonfrom North Carolina on US 19E/US 321/TN 67, here's the signage yousee:
But if you approachElizabethton from Johnson City on US 321/TN 67, here's how it'ssigned:
So again, no matter which wayyou enter Elizabethton on US 321, you're going north!
This guide sign on North US19E/US 321 just outside Elizabethton has a green plate coveringsomething between the two route markers. It's probably the word"south."
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Copyright© 1998-2002, H.B. Elkins