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Bristol – Virginia AND Tennessee! Retro Roadmap Snapshots from the Road!

Posted on: February 5, 2016

  • Bristol, Virginia:
  • Bristol, Tennessee:

Do you ever feel like you don’t get enough time to do all the ‘sploring you want to on road trips? That you’ve just gotten started and then the tug of the leash back to home and work and bills and reality has you scurrying towards your nest? Well that often happens to us here at Retro Roadmap, like it or not.

But just because we didn’t get to spend as much time as we’d like to in Bristol Virginia / Tennessee doesn’t mean you can’t! It definitely has a number of Retro Roadmap notable places that we saw on our quick visit that we want to share with you:

For example…

This vintage sign that notes these “Twin Cities” as a Good Place To Live!

Bristol VA / TN Sign

Bristol is bisected by the state line between VA and TN, with businesses on one side of State Street belonging to one state and the others on the other side to the other. This sign is now over 110 years old, having been dedicated in 1910, and was originally atop the 3 story hardware store just to the right. Placed on the National Register for Historic Places, it continues to be lit with over 1300 lightbulbs, as it was created years before neon signs were on the road.

It is the Birthplace of Country Music!

There’s a museum you can visit and this Guitar Shaped Sign also doubles as a “Hey This is A Big Thing On The Side of The Road Get My Picture With It Willya?!” vacation photo op:

Country Music - Bristol VA / TN


Birthplace of Overalls!

At least the ones made by L.C.  King ( and STILL made by them today!)

Bristol VA / TN - L.C. King Overalls


on the Tennesee side of State street is the….

Paramount Bristol Theatre

built in 1931 and still hosting live shows
Paramount Theatre Bristol VA / TN

Sadly the Virginia side of State Street’s Cameo Theatre is closed and up for sale (but here are some historic photos of it)

Cameo Theatre - Bristol VA / TN

Another vintage sign and storefront with potential is the former Hayes Furniture Store. According to this article the windows are currently being used to display local artwork. So that’s a good thing!

Hayes Furniture - Bristol VA / TN

Double whammy – ghost sign for the Cameo and The Burger Bar!

The Burger Bar is famous since 1946 (but not really spotted well in my photo, but it is there!)

Cameo Ghost Sign - Bristol VA / TN


Here’s a bonus that I didn’t even know about ’til I read about it on Debra Jane Seltzer’s Roadside Architecture site (SUCH a good resource) The Helms Candy Company!

The Helms Candy Company  at 3001 Lee Hwy has been in business since 1909. They’re famous for their stick candy and there’s a fun sign outside of their factory. Click here to see Debra Jane’s photo of it

Then just 3 miles north of that…is the Evergreen Motor Court. It has been open since at least 1956, and in the past 10 years or so the neon was still lit up. I only mention it as a Photo Op, I have no recommendation for it as far as lodging!

Evergreen Motor Court Sign Bristol VA

Lastly, just half a mile north of the Evergreen.

RC’s Storage has a number of vintage signs on display, including the Robert E Lee Motel and Summit Drive In Signs to name but two:

Robert E Lee Motel Sign - RC's Storage Bristol VA


If you have the opportunity to spend more time in Bristol  – send Mod Betty some updates on these places – and the others YOU discovered that she totally missed!

Bristol VA / TN Sign in Reverse