You could say that the Roan Mountain Riding Company got its start in 1995, but that would only be part of the story. It is true that David Brinkley Mull opened his doors for business that year, but this place near Roan Mountain, Tennessee has a long and interesting tale to tell. Mull's aunt, Virgie Brinkley, said it best: "If these old buildings could only talk."

The roots of the Roan Mountain Riding Company run back to 1905, when James Walter Brinkley built the first store here in Shell Creek. He and his brother Dallas sold groceries, clothing, shoes, and feed. They also provided space for a dentist and a barber, who rode in on the Tweetsie Railroad once a month. You could have gotten married there too, because Brinkley was a justice of the peace.

In 1924, James Brinkley bought out his brother and built a new store just up the road, which is now the present-day site of the Riding Company. The store continued to be a center of commerce and even housed the Shell Creek Post Office in the rear. Back then in the mountains, mail routes were handled on horseback.

Jim and Virgie Brinkley took over the store in 1936, and until the 1960s, they sold gas, coal, groceries, shoes and clothing. Then time seemed to stop, and the store sat empty for more than 30 years, falling into disrepair.

Years later, James Brinkley's grandson David, a graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne College (1987), worked for his father's business, Monarch Riding Equipment, in Vale, North Carolina. As a sales representative, David's route brought him right by his grandfather's store. Seeing this store deteriorate, along with his love and passion for his family roots, motivated David to restore the store in his spare time. When his father's business was destroyed by fire, David decided to reopen this store as the Roan Mountain Riding Company.

We could go on and on about the history and share tales about the secret card games, the folks who hung about the Warm Morning Stove, and even the historic Tweetsie Railroad that once ran past the front door, but why don't you just drop by? Pull up a chair and visit for awhile!