Tennessee Highway 11E follows, almost yard for yard, the great North-South Indian Warpath. Not only did the Indians use the trail, but so did long hunters and explorers. Caves and other shelters within ten miles in either direction of the trail were well known and often used by both groups at the same time. One such shelter was a little cave, now located on the site of the Tipton-Haynes Farm in Johnson City. In the early days, before the Indians felt threatened by the influx of white settlers, there was great camaraderie amongst the brethren. Daniel Boone, as well as John Sevier and others, used the cave whenever they were in the vicinity. It was not unusual, therefore, that both red and white man alike would be sharing the cave on the proverbial dark and stormy night.
Imagine a tableau of hunters huddled around a campfire, regaling each other with yarns of personal bravery. The Cherokee, we are told, never missed an opportunity to brag about their exploits and the whites, conversely, were no slouches in the game of one-upmanship, even if it meant stretching the truth a little. Today, shadows of these past story-swappings can still be seen at the mouth of the cave--oftimes complete with campfire and indistinguishable mutterings from the ghosts gathered around it.
A man and his son decided to camp at the cave's mouth one night. Early in the morning the man awakened to the sounds of a language that he had never heard before. When he opened his eyes he saw that he and his son were surrounded by what appeared to be a dozen half-naked Indians.
The man's first thought was that some of his rowdy friends were playing a trick on him, but when he clearly saw the outline of boulders through one of the Indians, he knew he was really seeing a ghost! Father and son leaped to their feet and hightailed it up the hill as fast as their legs could carry them.