THE LEGEND – The Indians believed that the land was sacred…
Formed by a great eagle sent from heaven to dry the soft earth by beating its giant wings. As it flew over the land of the Cherokees, the great eagle dipped so low that the massive wings struck the earth creating steep ridges and deep valleys that are now known as “The Appalachians.”
THE HISTORY… Late in the 18th century, hardy frontiersmen crossed the Appalachians into the valley of “The Tennessee.” At the junction of the Holston and French Broad rivers, General James White established James White’s Fort; later renamed for George Washington’s Secretary of War, Henry Knox. In 1792, the first frame house west of the Appalachians, Blount Mansion, was built to accommodate the governor of the vast territory south of the river Ohio. Both White’s Fort and Blount Mansion remain amid the central business district, allowing us to share a bit of the past.
In 1796, when the territory of the United States south of the River Ohio became the State of Tennessee; Knoxville became the first capital of Tennessee and remained so until 1812. Knoxville’s John Sevier was the first governor of Tennessee, serving six terms in all. Elected in 1816, Tom Emmerson served as the first mayor of Knoxville. The first official census, taken in 1850, showed a population of 2,076.
The war between the states found Knoxville sympathies of the inhabitants divided. Being a strategic point for both the Union and Confederate forces, a major battle took place on November 29, 1863 at Fort Sanders. The battle was an important victory for the federal forces.
A landmark event that was to have a profound effect on the area took place in the 1930s.
A newly formed federal agency, the Tennessee Valley Authority, began its massively scaled plans to transform the entire valley with flood control and power generating dams on the Tennessee River. Knoxville was never to be the same again with the influx of new people, new ideas and the economic opportunities opened by the availability of low cost electric power.
Another event of great significance for the area came with World War II. Just 20 miles west of Knoxville, the village of Oak Ridge was chosen as the site of modern history’s most closely guarded secret…”The Manhattan Project”… Knoxville again became the metropolitan seat of power generation. This time… nuclear power.
For the people of the Knoxville area, the pattern of the future was growing clear. A location that once meant partial isolation came to be of singular strategic value with the coming of air transport and the advent of great highways. Diversified new industries took root and prospered, while those already existing expanded. As growth and progress became synonymous with prosperity, the atmosphere within leadership circles became charged with an optimism that still prevails.
In the continuing saga of growth and expansion, aggressive business leaders and government officials started in 1976 to plan the 1982 World’s Fair. Twenty-two countries and more than 90 corporations participated in the exposition, which attracted more than 11 million visitors.
Knoxville, the most centrally located city in the Eastern United States, was poised for unlimited growth and development as we entered the 21st century.
The area retains the charm of a small southern town with the amenities of a big city making Knoxville unique and endearing in the hearts of its citizens, who proudly call this wonderful city “our home.”
The pride and accomplishments of Knoxville give birth to unlimited growth and development; supported by the diverse base of education, business and industry.
Places Rated Almanac – Millennium Edition rates Knoxville as “The Number One Best Place to Live” for cities under one million population.