History of KnoxvilleTennessee
Previous to European settlement, Cherokee Indians ruled the Great Valley of East Tennessee (current day Knoxville area). The valley was used as hunting grounds for many years.
In 1786, James White established a home in the area that consisted mostly a fort and a cluster of cabins. The community was renamed Knoxville and became the capital of the Southwest territory by 1791. Blount College, now known as the University of Tennessee, found its home here around 1794 and continues to be a major attraction for the area.
Due to Knoxville’s prime location, the city used its river access, railroad connections and geographical location to develop into one of the leading distributors in the south. As the economy began to grow, tensions rose between the northern and southern states. All of these great amenities that helped Knoxville grow were now being fought over by the two forces. Similar to the rest of Tennessee, Knoxville was divided between the Union and the Confederate. A few major battles took place around the Knoxville area during the Civil War, but the aftermath was more damaging than the actual battles themselves.
The post-Civil War Knoxville began to rebuilt its economy through commerce, industry and natural resources, including lumber, coal and marble. The river-generated power and those resources helped establish Knoxville as an important “New Deal” city during the early 20th century. The city flourished with the opening of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the 1930’s and began to draw in thousands of tourists a year.
Today, Knoxville boasts its variety of industries, arts and traditionalists that work to preserve its special heritage. With over 20 museums in and around Knoxville, one can explore and see first hand the history of this great mountain city.