Fun Facts About Knoxville


Indya Kincannon
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(865) 215-2040

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Knoxville 1886 drawn by H. Wellge
Knoxville, Tennessee 1886. Drawn by H. Wellge. Beck & Pauli, litho. Published/Created in Milwaukee, Norris, Wellge & Co. This image is available thru the Library of Congress.

Knoxville was settled in 1791 and established in 1792.

The City of Knoxville was incorporated in 1815. 

Knoxville was named after Henry Knox, President Washington's War Secretary.

William Blount selected the name for the City of Knoxville.

Knoxville was the home of one of the most intense Union supporters, William Brownlow, editor of the Knoxville Whig newspaper. 

The inventor of the Dempster Dumpster, George R. Dempster, was Mayor of Knoxville 1952-1955.

Due to Knoxville being a major center of marble distribution in the early 1900s, its nickname soon become "The Marble City."

In Knoxville on May 1, 1890 the first electric street car ran from Gay Street to Lake Ottossee (now Chilhowee Park).

McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville is named in honor of Knoxville native and Fighter Pilot Lt. Charles McGhee Tyson who was shot down over Britain's North Sea in WWI. 

Indians were the first settlers of Knoxville and East Tennessee. By the time the first European settlers appeared, the Cherokees dominated the region.

James White was the first known settler of Knoxville.

Mrs. N.E. ("Whitty") Logan was a nurse who worked near the front lines in France during World War I, earned a Medal of Commendation from General Pershing, and helped found the Knoxville Chapter of The Red Cross.

Charles McClung (1761-1835) was Knoxville's first surveyor.

Henley Bridge is named after Col. David Henley, a Revolutionary War hero sent to Knoxville in 1793 by President George Washington to represent the war department.

Knoxville native James E. "Buck" Karnes helped rally the 117th Infantry in a charge that broke the Hindenburg Line and forced the Germans into a retreat in WWI. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions.

The first train arrived in Knoxville in 1855.

Knoxville is headquarters of the Tennessee Valley Authority, created 1933, which provided hydroelectric power cheaply and abundantly to thousands.

In 1901, Kid Curry, a member of Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch, shot a couple of deputies and escaped out the back window of a business on Central Avenue in what is now the Old City. He was captured, brought to the Knoxville Jail, but escaped and was last seen riding the sheriff’s stolen horse across the Gay Street Bridge.

The French Broad and the Holston Rivers converge in Knoxville to form the headwaters of the Tennessee River which begins the 650 mile River Navigational Channel. 

Seven lakes surround Knoxville: Cherokee, Douglas, Ft. Loudon, Melton Hill, Norris, Watts Bar and Tellico.

Knoxville is situated at the crossroads of three major intestates, I-75, I-40 and I-81.

David Glasgow Farragut was born in Knoxville in 1801 and was appointed to the rank of Admiral - the first ever in American History. 

Knoxville College was founded in 1875.

The corporate headquarters of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is located in Knoxville. TVA was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 to provide "Electricity for All."

Currently Knoxville’s city population is over 170,000.

The City of Knoxville shares its name with Knoxville, Georgia - Knoxville, Iowa - Knoxville, Maryland - Knoxville, Pennsylvania - and New Knoxville, Ohio. 

Places Rated Almanac Millennium Edition rated Knoxville #13 in its overall ranking of best cities to reside for both the US and Canada.

The University of Tennessee is located in Knoxville with over 27,000 students.

Blount College, the forerunner of the University of Tennessee, was chartered in 1794.

Knoxville is 20 miles south of Oak Ridge National Laboratory which was instrumental in the development of the atomic bomb.

Downtown Knoxville is 936 feet above sea level. 

In Tennessee's early history, Knoxville was one of four different towns that served as the seat of government.

The City of Knoxville comprises 104 square miles of the 526-square mile total for Knox County. 

The soft drink Mountain Dew had its beginnings with Hartman Beverages in Knoxville in the late 1940's.

In 1974 Walter Cronkite designated Knoxville as the "Streaking Capital of the World." It was in the spring of that year that an estimated 5,000 people on Cumberland Avenue took their clothes off... stripping on the "strip". 

In 1933 during the Great Depression, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was founded by the U.S. Government to help create jobs, attract manufacturing, and provide electricity for all. 

Knoxville was the capital of both the Territory and the state of Tennessee.

The "Million Dollar Fire of 1897" destroyed most of Gay Street. 


During the 1991 bicentennial celebration of Knoxville, lighting totaling 455,000 was added to Henley Bridge.

The 13-foot bronze statue of Alex Haley inside Morningside Park is thought to be the largest bronze statue of an African American in the country. 

The Sunsphere, built for the 1982 World’s Fair, is 266 feet tall and has 26 stories. The actual ball itself houses only five levels. 

Smoky Mountains National Park is located within 45 minutes of Knoxville.

Knoxville has its own zoo (Knoxville Zoological Gardens) which is on 53 acres and has over approximately 400,000 yearly visitors.

Knoxville Zoo is the Red Panda Capital of the World, having the greatest success in breeding and survival of baby Red Pandas. 

In 1978, the Knoxville Zoo had the first African Elephant bred and born in captivity in the Western Hemisphere. Her name was Little Diamond. 

Knoxville is home to more than 20 museums and seven historical houses. 


Knoxville is home to cable TV's HGTV, which is one of the fastest growing networks in cable history with nearly 84 million households in less than nine years.

Knoxville is home to the Knoxville News Sentinel which is one of the top 100 Daily newspapers in the United States.

The corporate headquarters of Bush Brothers and Company, Petro's Chili & Chips and Pilot Corporation are located in Knoxville. 

Knoxville's Jake Butcher and his brother caused the fourth largest bank failure in history. 

East Knoxville businessman William Hooper volunteered in WW II as an instructor to train the mostly-black "Red Ball Express", which became one of the most decorated U.S. Convoy Units in Europe. 


Most of the Civil War dead from the battle in Knoxville are buried in the Confederate Cemetery, which is located in East Knoxville.

During the Civil War, the Siege of Knoxville lasted 17 days (Nov. 17-Dec. 4, 1863) and ended with the Confederates never taking Knoxville.

The Civil War battle in Knoxville ended with General James Longstreet's failed, bloody attempt to storm General Ambrose Burnside's fortifications at Fort Sanders. 

During 1860, Knoxville was a small city of about 3,700 people.

During 1860, Knox County was home to over 20,000 white citizens and over 2,000 slaves.

Fort Sanders is named after General Sanders who was killed in a skirmish during the Civil War.

Bethel Cemetery on Mabry Hill contains the remains of approximately 1,670 Civil War soldiers. 


Nikki Giovanni, the Princess of Black Poetry, was born in Knoxville in 1943.

Jack Hanna, well known zookeeper, was born in Knoxville in 1947. 

Mary Costa, best known as the voice for Disney's Sleeping Beauty was born in Knoxville. 

The first black federal judge, William Henry Hastie was born in Knoxville in 1904.

Pulitzer Prize winning writer James Agee was born in Knoxville in 1909. 


Famous country singer Kenny Chesney grew up in Knoxville.

The world's smallest gospel singer Lowell Mason was born in Knoxville in 1937. 

WNOX went on the air as one of the first 10 radio stations in nation in 1921. 

Knoxville's Historic Andrew Johnson Hotel is the site of the last known appearance of country western singing star Hank Williams Sr. 

The singing duo The Everly Brothers settled in Knoxville when they appeared on radio from 1953 to 1955. 

Country Music Hall of Famer Roy Acuff lived in Knoxville during his early music learning days. 

Country Music Hall of Famer Chet Atkins started on Knoxville's WNOX radio station when he was 18 years old. 

A Knoxville record merchant, Sam Morrison of Bell Sales Company, helped launch the career of Elvis Presley by promoting Presley’s “That’s All Right, Mama” by playing it on loudspeakers to the public on the square. He sold hundreds of copies to people of all ages, including two copies to an RCA talent scout. The scout sent a copy of the record to his boss in New York and several months later, RCA bought Elvis’ contract from Sun Studios in Memphis. 


Knoxville was home to Pat Summitt, UT Lady Vols former women's basketball coach who is the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history of either a men's or women's team in any division.

Nine former and current University of Tennessee athletes competed in the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Dee Dee Trotter became the first Lady Vol track and field underclassman ever to win an Olympic Medal. 

Former UT track star and Knoxville resident Tim Mack broke not only his own record, but the Olympic mark in winning the gold medal in the pole vault at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Former Vol, Justin Gatlin won the Gold in the Olympic 100 Meter Dash in only 9.85 seconds at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

WNBA stars Tamika Catchings, Candace Parker, Kara Lawson, Nicky Anosike, Alexis Hornbuckle, Glory Johnson and Michelle Snow played for UT in Knoxville. 

Knoxville's Neyland Stadium is named after University of Tennessee football coach Robert Reese Neyland. 

NFL stars Peyton Manning and Eric Berry played for UT in Knoxville.

The only museum devoted to women's basketball (Women's Basketball Hall of Fame) is located in Knoxville, Tennessee. 

In December of 1979 in Knoxville, Hulk Hogan, known then as Sterling Golden, defeated Dick Slater for the NWA South Eastern Heavyweight Title. 

Knoxville was the birthsite of Todd Helton, retired pro baseball player for the Colorado Rockies. 

Knoxville is home to Doris Sams, All-American, All-Star Outfielder and Pitcher for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

In the mid-1970s, Knoxville enjoyed watching the "Ernie and Bernie Show" of UT's Ernie Grunfield and Bernard King as they dominated men's hoops.

Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500 in 2011 and was the youngest driver to win the award at 20 years old.

Musician/songwriter/producer Chet Atkins won numerous music awards including 14 Grammy Awards.


Knoxville was home to Tina Wesson, the million dollar winner of the television series Survivor 2: Australian Outback. 

Quentin Tarantino, the famous actor and director was born in Knoxville. Creator of "Kill Bill" and "Pulp Fiction."

MTV stuntman and actor Johnny Knoxville grew up in Knoxville. 

Wendy's Restaurant creator, Dave Thomas, once worked for Regas Restaurant in Knoxville. 

Scott Miller who is a musician for the "Blue Collar TV" series lives in Knoxville.

Former Knoxville resident Ryan Murphy, is the creator of the acclaimed cable dramas "Nip/Tuck" and "American Horror Story" and the TV series "Glee."

Actress Dale Dickey was born in Knoxville, attended Bearden High School and was a former U.T. theater student.

Actor John Cullum of "Northern Exposure" TV series fame and a Tony-winning musical theatre star, calls Knoxville his hometown and is known to perform at the Clarence Brown Theatre from time to time.

Actress-singer Polly Bergen, born in Knoxville in 1930, was the first woman to serve on the Board of Directors of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. 

Actor Brad Renfro who made his film debut at the age of 11 in the movie "The Client" grew up in Knoxville. 

Actress Patricia Neal who was best known for her roles in "The Day the Earth Stood Still," "Breakfast at Tiffany's," and "Hud" (she won the Academy Award for Best Actress) grew up in Knoxville. 

Actress Lara Parker who starred in the 2012 movie version of "Dark Shadows" and several television series and movie appearances was born in Knoxville. 

Actor David Keith was born in Knoxville and still calls it home. Starred in "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "Daredevil." 

Knoxville was the filming location for the 1999 movie, "October Sky" and the 1996 movie, "Box of Moon Light". 

The 2000 movie "Road Trip" with Tom Green had parts filmed at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. 

The 1995 TV Series "Christy", starring Kellie Martin, was filmed in Townsend near Knoxville.

One of Burt Reynolds' last movies, "The Last Movie Star," was filmed in Knoxville in 2017.


Knoxville was home to the 1982 World's Fair. Attendance was recorded at 11,127,786 visitors. 

When it hosted the World's Fair in 1982, Knoxville was the smallest city to ever host an International Exposition.

Energy Turns The World was the theme of the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville.

The first touch-screen computer displays were demonstrated, in the US Pavilion at the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville.

Petro's Chili and Chips made their debut at the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville. 

The Sunsphere and the Tennessee Amphitheater are the only structures that remain from the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville. 

Knoxville had the last successful World's Fair held in America.