Local ambition, crater dreams

Published 2:56 pm Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The main goal of Bell County Tourism is making the area a true destination for anyone in the country. Tourism has the potential to drive the local economy.

The tourism board and many local citizens feel strongly about the potential Bell County has to be a premium tourism destination. Two such locals are Ray Reynolds and Steve Cook, who attended the April 10 meeting to share their dream about where Middlesboro could go in the future.

The main focus of what Cook and Reynolds told the tourism board was on Middlesboro’s unique geographical situation. Middlesboro is a city built in a meteor crater — the only city in America that is built in such a location.

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“If it was me, I would be focusing on the crater — something nobody else has,” said Cook.

Cook spoke at length about the special location of Middlesboro, which he said could be an A-list attraction for people to come and visit. He proposed utilizing the local landscape to build a roller coaster in the mountains, a restaurant built high into the mountains that would overlook the crater and other attractions such as a sky coaster — which is similar to bungee jumping but it swings the riders back and forth after dropping them from hundreds of feet.

“My ideas would take a lot of money to do. But if you put the right people together, that know people, that have money and you can lay a plan out in front of them, you can possibly get things done,” he said.

Cook also likened the potential for Middlesboro as potentially reaching being equivalent to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in Tennessee.

“Imagine if millions and millions of people came down here and spent money, how this place would build up…it would create jobs here,” said Cook.

None of these ideas are in any form of planning. They are the ambitions of local folks who take pride in their city and county and wish to see it thrive and flourish. The Bell County Tourism Board welcomes input.