The Louisville area was settled in the early 1800s, and its situation on the Tennessee River* helped it grow into a key flatboat and steamboat port. It was incorporated in 1851. In 1974 Louisville's downtown was declared a national historic district by the National Register of Historic Places.
*The Holston River is now defined as ending at the French Broad River, where the confluence forms the Tennessee River just above Knoxville. Before 1933, the terminus of the Holston River was defined as where the Little Tennessee River enters the river. That point, the confluence of the Holston and Little Tennessee rivers, was considered to be the beginning of the Tennessee River.
According to Tennessee Valley Authority historians, when the TVA was created in 1933, Congress mandated that the TVA headquarters be located on the banks of the Tennessee River. Since the TVA headquarters were already designated to be located in downtown Knoxville, as part of area development on what was then the Holston River, to fulfill the Congressional mandate, the official start of the Tennessee River was moved upstream from Lenoir City to the confluence of the Holston and French Broad rivers.
Two hundred and forty-nine families in Blount, Loudon, and Knox Counties were relocated for the Fort Loudon Dam project between 1939 and 1942. (Source: All We Knew Was to Farm: Rural Women in the Upcountry South, 1919-1941, Melissa Walker, p. 154)