Legacy Parks launched the Head of Tennessee Initiative with the acquisition of McBee Ferry Landing on the Holston River in 2017. The property was the site of the McBee Ferry, the only crossing on th Holston River between Knoxville and Kingsport for more than 140 years. Prior to Legacy Parks’ acquisition, there was a 22-mile gap in public access to the river. The goal of the Head of the Tennessee Initiative is to create public access to the Holston and French Broad Rivers at five t0 seven mile increments.
Legacy Parks secured a $75,000 grant from the Tennessee Heritage Conservation Fund which was matched by a $25,000 grant from TVA and $50,000 in funding from Knox County to purchase the property.
The property is just upriver from the historic Mascot Bridge. In 1929, the Mascot Bridge replaced McBee Ferry as an access point to cross the Holston River. The bridge was completed in 1930, and is commonly referred to as the Rainbow Bridge for its unique arches, and is said to be an upside-down version of the Henley Bridge in Knoxville with three arches on top of the roadway, instead of below it as on Henley Street Bridge.
Legacy Parks conveyed the property to Knox County in 2020 for the property to become a public park. Knox County constructed a new entrance and parking area, upgraded the boat ram and added picnic tables and a walking path. The park officially opened March 2023.
Knox County Parks & Recreation, State of Tennessee Heritage Conservation Funds, TVA, East TN Historical Society