I arrived in Johnson City, Tennessee in the middle of August in 2015, a student from the University of Minnesota Duluth, transferring to East Tennessee State University to study music. On my way to register for classes for my first semester at ETSU, I could not happen but notice a large hopper, standing outside of a vintage building, with the words “Drink Yee Haw Beer” printed on it’s side. Being a fan of craft beers I decided that once I finished my registration requirements, I would then venture in the direction of, as I learned later what it was called, the Yee Haw Brewery.
The bar was located on the south wall of the building and was approximately forty feet long. There were a few people gathered at the bars center and coincidentally the center was also the location of the beer tappers. I ordered a beer, a Dunkel, from the extensive list of craft beers and found it to be quit delicious. I asked the bartender if he knew anything about the construction of this building and he was very knowledgeable about it’s history.
All the patrons seemed to have an adequate supply of beer in their pint glasses, so the bartender began to explain how this brewery building used to be a depot for the “Tweetsie Railroad” and was built starting in 1891. Another depot across the street from the Yee Haw brewery was built eighteen years later by the Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio Rail Road. The bartender explained how a Mr. Joe Baker owns both of these buildings. The CC&O depot is now the “Tupelo Honey Café.”
As I listened to my favorite music, and at the same time enjoying amazing craft and hearing all the chatter from the other patrons, I realized I was in a different state than my home state of Minnesota, and also an entirely different region of America, and did not know a soul in town, I felt a sense of déjà vu. I felt a sense of place.
Just as I was about to leave, a train went by on the tracks just outside the back door of the brewery, confirming the information that I had been given by the bartender.
As I walked out the front door and the sun, with its seventy-five degree heat, hit my face, I had to wonder if I wasn’t in my new hometown in Johnson City Tennessee.