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Interesting Facts About Knoxville Tennessee

Have you wondered how Knoxville got its name? Why it is named the “Underwear Capital of the World”?Or what is Boomsday? All of the answers to these questions, and more, are in the article below. Check out some of these interesting facts about Knoxville Tennessee to learn more about the city. Some of these facts may even surprise you.

How Did The City Get its Name?

Henry Knox, President Washington’s War Secretary, was the namesake of Knoxville. William Blount selected the name for the City of Knoxville. Knoxville was the home of one of the most intense Union supporters. His name was William Brownlow and he was an editor for the Knoxville Whig newspaper. If you would like to know how Knoxville got its nickname: “Scruffy City”, check out our article explaining it!

Take a Drive On Summit Hill

Summit Hill Drive is a street most are familiar with in Knoxville, whether it be on a stroll downtown or a daily commute to work or to the campus of The University of Tennessee. What most do not know is that the street has some history of its own. Not only is Summit Hill Drive the highest point in elevation for the downtown area but its name comes from a grim past. Summit Hill is historically known for being the highest point of the street. Although, well over a century ago, Summit Hill was known as Gallows Hill. During the civil war, the city used the top of the hill as the gallows, a location for the hangings of convicted murderers in the city. 

Good Golly, Ms. Dolly!

A country music star that has transpired into a household name for multiple generations got her start in Knoxville. Dolly Parton, grew up in Sevierville Tennessee but got her first exposure to stardom in Knoxville. At the age of ten, Dolly began performing on the Cas Walker Show that debuted on two separate stations: WIVK Radio which famously hosts all Vols sporting events, and WBIR-TV.

The Underwear Capital of the World

One of the weirdest facts about Knoxville Tennessee is the backstory behind one of its nicknames. In 1930, Knoxville was the largest manufacturer of cotton underwear in the United States. They manufactured so much underwear that the city was given the title “The Underwear Capital of the World”. Many textile mills within Knoxville were also known for making T-shirts, socks, and athletic wear.

Knoxville, the “Marble City”?

One of Knoxville’s nicknames is Marble City. While there are several quarries located around the city (some are now the best swimming holes around!), these quarries were mined for limestone, and not marble. It is a common misconception, but Knoxville never actually had any marble! However, Knoxville exported a crystalline limestone known as “pink marble” or “Tennessee marble”. This kind of limestone is similar and has been used in spectacular buildings around the United States. One of the quarries originally mined for this faux marble is near Island Home, in an area now known as Ijams Nature Preserve. Currently, this former mine is full of clear water, and is perfect for swimming in the summer! If you’re in the Knoxville area, make sure to check out this fantastic historic site, and be sure to bring your bathing suit.

Home of Olympians

During the 2004 Olympics in Athens, a total of nine former University of Tennessee athletes competed in the games. Here are some notable moments. Dee Dee Trotter became the first Lady Vol track and field underclassman ever to win an Olympic Medal. Tim Mack broke not only his own record but the Olympic mark by winning the gold medal in the pole vault at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Justin Gatlin won the Gold in the Olympic 100 Meter Dash in only 9.85 seconds at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. 


Our last but not the last of the interesting facts about Knoxville Tennessee is about Boomsday! Citizens of Knoxville have their own name for Labor day, Boomsday! This name comes from the Boomsday celebration that showcased the country’s largest and most captivating fireworks displays. Every year nearly 325,000 spectators come to Knoxville to watch a spectacular firework show from the Henley Street Bridge. Fans can enjoy the show from the riverside, hillside, and even on boats on the Tennessee River.

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