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Farm history exhibit opens

The Reece Museum at East Tennessee State University unveiled an exhibit exploring the history and ingenuity of farming in Unicoi County on Thursday, Nov. 6.
The exhibit came to exist through work done by students in the “Documenting Community Traditions” course as part of the university’s Appalachian studies program. The work wasn’t just done by one class. Rather, each class from each semester played a role in making the exhibit a reality.
“It’s about kind of seeing how agriculture has changed in Unicoi County,” said Margie Richardson, a member of the 2013 class whose responsibilities included gathering all of the texts for all of the posters in the exhibit.
“Initially, (small scale) agriculture was a big part of the Unicoi County economy,” said Richardson. “Then, other larger businesses like Scott Farms came in and people had to find ways to adapt to the changing times.”
Essentially, the exhibit shows how farming methods and sources of income evolved as different and modern forms of industry began establishing a foothold across the county, Richardson said.
The exhibit itself featured a conglomerate of artifacts. Everything from Mason jars to old photographs and even a vintage Cub tractor were on display. The tractor, which was seated in the center of the exhibit, was one of the main attractions and centers of attention. It was the only part of the exhibit not originally from Unicoi County.
“The tractor is actually from Bristol and we were able to use it for this exhibit,” said professor Randy Sanders on the fire-engine red tractor. “While this specific tractor is not originally from the county, it serves as an excellent example of what would have been used during that time.”
The McCormick Farmall Cub tractor was one of the most widely-used tractors starting in the late 1940s, according to the exhibit. With a wide variety of attachments, the tractor rapidly rose in popularity and is in use in a limited capacity today.
“As times have changed, some people have adjusted their farms to industries like tourism, such as the Lynch’s (in Unicoi),” said Richardson.
Mayor Johnny Lynch, of whom Richardson spoke, was on hand Thursday evening to thank the school and the museum for all they had done to preserve Unicoi’s heritage.
“We’ve worked on a partnership with ETSU on a couple of different things over the past few years,” said Lynch. “We’ve had great results come out of it and we appreciate (ETSU). We’ve worked together well to make some things happen.”
As for the Documenting Community Traditions course that was responsible for putting together the exhibit, the current class has started their next project: documenting the history of the Clinchfield Railroad through interviewing its former employees. The class has been meeting in various locations across Unicoi County and will continue to do so over the coming months.
The farm exhibit located at the Reece Museum will be on display until Dec. 12. The museum is open to the public Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.