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Trip Planner USA  /  Tennessee  /  Erwin

Erwin

4.7
Erwin is a town in and the county seat of Unicoi County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 6,097 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Johnson City Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a component of the Johnson City - Kingsport - Bristol, TN-VA Combined Statistical Area - commonly known as the "Tri-Cities" region.HistoryThe town of Erwin received its name by a mail mishap. On December 5, 1879, the name of the town was Ervin, in honor of D.J.N. Ervin, who had donated 15acre of land for the county seat. A typo made by post office officials caused the name to be recorded as Erwin. The mistake was never corrected.Erwin earned some notoriety in 1916 when the only known public execution of an elephant in Tennessee occurred in the community. Mary, the elephant, had killed her handler, Walter Eldridge, in nearby Kingsport. Mary's owner, Charlie Sparks, decided to execute Mary by hanging. As home to the region's largest railway yard, Erwin was the only community with the means to carry out the death sentence. Surrounding communities decided that Erwin was the best place to carry out the execution and Erwin obliged, even though the town itself was against it. An estimated 2,500 people turned out at the local railway yard to see Mary hoisted by a crane to meet her demise. The town has recently implemented a yearly festival to help raise funds that go exclusively to the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN.
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