Johnson City was recently split off this “Tri Cities” metro area, although this remaining area still has three names, with Bristol listed twice because it straddles the Tennessee-Virginia line. Johnson City is the college town and minor cultural center of the area. Kingsport and Bristol, 20 miles separated, are typical small Southern centers supporting an assortment of industrial and agricultural activities. Chemicals, forest products, glass, textiles, and metal products are produced in the area.
Bristol is a center for small business and industry, and Kingsport holds the largest single industrial employer in the state, Eastman Chemical. Kingsport is a planned city with ample parkland and greenbelts and the downtown is fairly attractive. All the cities have an assortment of arts and recreational activities, as well as access to the nearby Tennessee Valley Authority lakes. The rolling terrain north into Virginia is beautiful, especially in spring and fall.
The Bristol Motor Speedway is an important NASCAR track. Cost of living is very low and the economy, while diverse, is going through some obvious adjustments. The area is geographically isolated from larger cities. Additional services are usually found in Virginia or in Knoxville 120 miles west, but it is a long drive.
The Tri-Cities Area is located in the upper East Tennessee Valley. The immediate terrain is gently rolling on the east and south to very hilly on the west and north. Mountain ranges rise 4,000 feet to 6,000 feet farther across the valley to the southeast. The variable topography has considerable influence on the weather. Mountains shelter the area from cold and some moisture but open landscape to the southwest allows moist Gulf airflow, causing warm, humid summers. Summer thunderstorms are frequent, with the most rain occurring in July. Atlantic Coast storms can bring heavy winter precipitation. Only the higher mountains typically receive snow.