Friday, February 28, 2014

The Great Flood of 1867

Flooding in Knoxville
View From Knoxville
Link to a larger version in the McClung Digital Collection

"For the greater portion of last week, nothing was talked about but the flood and hundreds of our citizens, of all ages, sexes and colors, crowded along the river bank to behold the turbid waters dash impetuously forward, carrying everything away by their irresistible power, bidding a sullen defiance to the weak efforts to prevent them from accomplishing their destructive purpose."


Great Freshet Heavy Damage of Property - Deluge of Water Unparalleled in the History of the Country

Never in the history of the country has such a deluge of waters covered the land as did here during the past week. The rain fell in torrents,at short intervals, for four days and nights, which, together with the melting snow from the adjacent mountains, has swollen the different streams of waters throughout the whole country to such an extent as has never previously been known. The Holston at this point is higher than had ever been known by the oldest inhabitants, being, from the most reliable information we have been able to find, about seven or eight feet higher than It was in the great freshet of March,1731.

The losses to the people throughout East Tennessee by the flood are very heavy. Messrs. L J. and C. W. Coker have sustained a very heavy loss, consisting of machinery and lumber. Their extensive establishment near Parks' ferry, on the Holston, which was almost new, was carried away, consisting of a saw mill and grist mill. They also lost at the same place about six hundred thousand foot of lumber. 
The steam saw mill of O. W. Park was almost entirely swept away, and their valuable machinery destroyed.

The valuable machinery at the mouth of first creek the property of S. T. Atkin, which has been run by Mensrs. Gasper & Davis, as a sash, blind and door factory, was carried away, entailing a heavy loss on the owners, and one of much importance, to the entire community, it being the only establishment of the kind in the city.

The old red warehouse which stood on the bank of the Holston here, was carried away, and sailed majestically down tbe river, no doubt the largest "craft" that has ever gone down the waters of the Holston. The bridge over the Holston at this place, built by the military aurthorities, and since purchased by the county, after standing up nobly against the waves for full twelve hours longer than was excepted by its most sanguine friends, was finally compelled to yield to the irresistible power of the maddened billows, and gave way to the sorrow of the entire community. 

The Main street bridge over first creek, at McClanahan's mill, was almost entirely destroyed. The Cumberland street bridge, over the same creek, was kept to it place by the energy of Judge Jones, but is very much damaged. Numerous dwelling house , were carried away, and many other seriously damaged.

The news from the surrounding country, though at the present writing (Monday morning) very indefinite and uncertain, is of the most distressing character. It is said that not a single mill of any kind is left standing on Little river, while dwelling houses, barns, out-houses, and property of every description on the river, is entirely destroyed. French Broad river, it is said, has been fifteen feet higher than has ever before been known by the oldest inhabitant.

The Knoxville and Kentucky Railroad has been seriously damaged by heavy slides, but will, we presume, be in running order soon. No train have been running for several days on the East Tennessee and Virginia, and East Tennessee and Georgia roads, but at present we are unable to say to what extent they have been damaged, other than tbe loss or Strawberry Plains bridge, mentioned above.

From Charleston.


The Hiwassee covered the greater portion of this village, and was within twenty-three inches of the Railroad bridge at that place.

From the railroads we are happy to say that, though this road has been seriously damaged the energetic officers of the road have made arrangements whereby travel will soon be resumed over it.
The steamer "Mary Bird'' has been employed to convey passengers from McMillians Station to Strawberry Plains, and in a few days the traveling public can pass over the road with comparatively
little delay.
The East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad, whose officers know no such word as fail, will also at once have arrangements whereby the mail and passenger will be passed over the road as usual to Dalton, Ga. The damage to their road is heavy, but no bridges have been taken away. ...

From Kingston. 

Judge Hall and others came up on Monday morning from Kingston, where they had been attending Circuit Court, last week, and they bring the same story of destruction that we are bearing from almost every direction. A portion of the village hat been taken away, and other portions very much damaged, while the loss of grain, fencing, and every kind of moveable property is unparalleled.

From Concord.

We have It from the most reliable authority, that the loss of grain, stock, and improvements in the neighborhood or Concord, will amount to at least one hundred thousand dollars. Farmers, who a few days ago had their thousands of bushels of corn, have not a bushel left.

Source: The Union flag. (Jonesborough, Tenn.), 22 March 1867. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. Link

From Chattanooga.


The water, we understand, in Chattanooga, was ten feet deep in Market Street and to the second floor in the Crutchfield House. This. If true, places the greater portion of the city under water. The East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad bridge over Chickamauga creek is gone. Ont the Nashville and Chattanooga road, we learn the Bridgeport bridge over the Tennessee is gone. The trestle bridge over Running Water is also gone. (Brownlow's Knoxville Whig. (Knoxville, Tenn.), 13 March 1867) Link

More information:

Brownlow's Knoxville Whig. (Knoxville, Tenn.), 13 March 1867. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. Link

Brownlow's Knoxville Whig. (Knoxville, Tenn.), 17 April 1867. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. Link

Brownlow's Knoxville Whig. (Knoxville, Tenn.), 15 May 1867. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. Link

Brownlow's Knoxville Whig. (Knoxville, Tenn.), 03 July 1867. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. Link

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Racing, it's not just Daytona: Racing in Knox County

This post is a late night collaboration among friends on the You know you're from Knoxville if: facebook group.
The earliest reference to a Knoxville race track that I have found was about George Washing Harris marrying the "daughter of the inspector of the Port of Knoxville (who also owned a racetrack)." (The Human Tradition in America from the Colonial Era through Reconstruction
 edited by Charles W. Calhoun, p 244)

Cal Johnson developed a race track in South Knoxville which was active from 1881 to 1895.

Cal Johnson's track in South Knoxville from an 1895 map

Then Cal Johnson established a racetrack, in Burlington neighborhood near Chilhowee Park. 
"In 1910 ,Johnson drew a crowd to see the city's first airplane landing and , later, a race between a Wright brothers' biplane, a dirigble airship and a car driven by Herbert Graf. The biplane won." (A History of East Tennessee Auto Racing: The Thrill of the Mountains,David McGee, p 34)
It was the site of the first airplane landing in Knoxville during the Exposition of 1911. The track has since been converted into a street, Speedway Circle.

The Knoxville Motor Speedway was a dirt oval that operated during the Great Depression in Knox County's Inskip community. It was managed by J.B. Cate and also called Inskip Speedway.

Norwood Race Track KGIS Maps

 Broadway Speedway was most popular during the fifties.  It was used for midget racing and later for stock cars and even bicycles.

Remains of Broadway Race track

 Graveston area racetrack on Anderson Rd off Tazewell Pk.(Family History of Col. John Sawyers and Simon Harris, and Their Descendants, William Randolph Carter, p 184).

Racetrack in Graveston area.

Flanders Race Track, Flanders owned by John Flanders, Col. C C Camp, and Cal Johnson-horse racing. "In the early eighties the scene of fair activities was shifted and these attractions were staged at what was known as Flanders race track northwest of the city Racing meets featured the events In 1885 the first elaborate fair undertaking as a means of trade exploitation was held in Knoxville This was a successor to the old time county fair and was more pretentious and attractive. (The first exposition of conservation and its builders: an official history ... By Gifford Pinchot, Don Carlos Ellis, Julia Clifford Lathrop; p. 44)  Link

Flanders Racetrack in Third Creek Area

Racetrack behind the town of Farragut in the Concord Fairgrounds (History of Concord UMC) and one next to Berry Funeral Home.

Also see A Trip to Broadway Racetrack  Link

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Knoxville Civil War Fortifications

View of Fort Sanders and UT from across the river                                        

Fort Sanders and College

View of downtown Knoxville

This picture includes downtown and the fortifications that were East of town.


East Fortifications

View Knoxville Civil War Fortifications in a larger map

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Winter Market

I had a chance to visit the Winter Market this morning.  The best thing about the market was that their was quite a crowd.  It was great to see so many people out on a cold, cloudy winter morning.  The worst thing about the market was that is was so crowded that it was difficult to make your way through the crowd to even get to the vendors.

Food Trucks

Southern Railroad Station Main Building

Freight Depot

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Neither rain, nor sleet...a look a Knox County post offices


"On July 26, 1775, members of the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, agreed
That a postmaster General be appointed for the United Colonies, who shall hold his office at Philada, and shall be allowed a salary of 1000 dollars per an: for himself, and 340 dollars per an: for a secretary and Comptroller, with power to appoint such, and so many deputies as to him may seem proper and necessary.
That a line of posts be appointed under the direction of the Postmaster general, from Falmouth in New England to Savannah in Georgia, with as many cross posts as he shall think fit.1
This simple statement signaled the birth of the Post Office Department, the predecessor of the United States Postal Service and the second oldest federal department or agency of the United States of America." Source

Knox County Post Offices 1846: Beaver Ridge, Church Grove, Gap Creek, Knoxville, Loveville, Mecklenberg, Raccoon Valley, Woodburne

Knox County Post Offices 1851:  Academia, Beaver Ridge, Campbell's Station, Church Grove, Flint Gap, Gap Creek, Knoxville,  Mecklenburgh, Racoon Valley, Woodbourne

Knox County Post Offices in 1876: Asbury, Ball Camp, Beaver Ridge, Bull Run, Campbell's Station, Church Grove, Concord, Cooper, Ebenezer, Gap Creek, Graveston, Hall's Cross Roads, High Point, Knoxville, Letsinger, McMillan, Powell's Station, Riverdale, Roseberry, Spring Grove, Thornburgh, Thorn Grove, Twinville

Today: Burlington, Cedar Bluff Post Office, Corryton, Downtown, Halls Station, Heiskell, Farragut, Fountain City, North Knoxville, Norwood, Mascot, Powell, South Knoxville, Knoxville, Knoxville Main Office, West Knoxville