1. The man who invented one of the world's most well-known bulk trash containers—the Dempster Dumpster—once served as Knoxville's mayor. 46 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Knoxville
Source: Wikimedia Commons author Paxson Woelber
2. It's home to the the Forensic Anthropology Center. The center contains a "body farm" where fresh human remains are placed in natural settings so budding forensic scientists can study their decomposition. 3. Actor and comedian Johnny Knoxville is actually from Knoxville, but his real name is Philip John "PJ" Clapp. 4. Proving it's a diverse and dichotomous place, Knoxville has been called "The Streaking Capital of the World" and "The Underwear Capital of the World." The former, coined by newsman Walter Cronkite, has to do with a mass streaking incident that occurred in the 1970s, the latter a reference to the undergarment textiles industry that was once huge in Knoxville. 46 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Knoxville
Source: Wikimedia Commons
5. In 1982, Knoxville was the smallest city to have ever hosted a World's Fair. 6. Cherry Coke, the branded prepackaged version of the longtime soda fountain favorite, was introduced at the Knoxville World's Fair. 7. The now-ubiquitous touch-screen was first demonstrated to the public at the 1982 World's Fair. Attendees might have laughed at the notion of carrying around such screens in their pockets one day. 46 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Knoxville
Source: Flickr user stevendamron
8. It's against the law to lasso a fish in Knoxville. 9. Knoxville played a key role in the early success of Elvis Presley. An RCA talent scout heard a local record store blaring the future King's Sun Studios single "That's All Right" and brought it to the attention of the label, who ended up buying out Presley's contract from Sun Studios. 46 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Knoxville
Source: Wikimedia Commons author Lucas 0707
10. Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino was born in Knoxville. 11. The Oliver Hotel was originally built to house an ice cream saloon. 12. "Rocky Top" isn't the official fight song of the UT Volunteers. 13. And Volunteer is a nickname, not a mascot. 14. The UT Volunteers official mascot is a bluetick coonhound named Smokey. 46 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Knoxville
Source: Wikipedia author KamrynsMom
15. The man who yelled the famous words "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" during the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay—Union Admiral David Farragut—was born in Knoxville in 1801. 16. It's where the soft drink Mountain Dew was invented in 1940. 17. Knoxvillians have their own name for Labor Day, Boomsday, named after the Boomsday celebration that features one of the country's largest and most impressive fireworks displays. It takes place over the Tennessee River and includes a waterfall of fireworks. 46 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Knoxville
Source: Flickr user cryogenic666
18. It's where Hank Williams, Sr. spent the last night of his life, at the Andrew Johnson Hotel. Now an office building, it was once the tallest structure in Knoxville. 46 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Knoxville
Source: Flickr user bunky’s pickle
19. According to an episode of "The Simpsons," the Sunsphere is filled with a surplus of unsold wigs. 20. In reality, the golden globe of the Sunsphere houses offices, an observation deck and event space. 46 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Knoxville
Source: Photo by the author
21. Author Kurt Vonnegut, a counterculture literary hero of the 1960s and '70s, was an alumni of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. 22. Nashville gets all the glory when it comes to country music, but it wouldn't exist without Knoxville providing the seedlings. It's known as "The Cradle of Country Music," the place where hillbilly music came out of the hills and found new footing. 23. Seminal country music legends Roy Acuff and Dolly Parton got their start in Knoxville. 46 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Knoxville
Source: Flickr user PRINCESS THEATER - Raising the Curtain
24. The Everly Brothers also spent their formative years here. 25. Open-air Market Square was once dominated by a large building in its center called the Market House. 46 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Knoxville
Source: Flickr user Joelk75
26. Market Square has served as a memorable setting in American literature. James Agee wrote about it in his Pulitzer Prize-winner novel "A Death in the Family," as did Cormac McCarthy in "The Orchard Keeper" and "Suttree." 27. City Hall used to sit at the north end of Market Square, approximately where the outdoor stage sits today. 46 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Knoxville
Source: Photo by the author
28. The Knoxville Gazette was the first newspaper published in Tennessee. The first edition appeared in 1791. 29. WDVX, a popular local radio station that champions regional and Americana music, now calls the Knoxville Visitor Center home, but it began operation in a pull-trailer stationed in a campground off Interstate 75. 30. Knoxville is technically considered an international port. It's possible to travel by boat from downtown to the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes. 31. Knoxville and Fort Knox in Kentucky are named after the same person, Henry Knox, the first Secretary of War for the U.S. 32. In addition to inventing the dumpster, George Dempster was the first steam shovel operator to begin moving earth to create the Panama Canal. 33. Mayor George Dempster was instrumental in removing Market Hall from the square (maybe some of his dumpsters helped in the process?), as was a fire. 34. One of Knoxville's nicknames is "The Marble City," but the Tennessee Marble that came from the quarries around town was really limestone. 35. The quarries in the Ijams Nature Center became garbage dumps when the quarrying stopped. Today, they're being reclaimed by nature and are some of the more scenic spots in town. 46 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Knoxville
Source: Photo by the author
36. Revolutionary War hero David Henley was sent by President George Washington to Knoxville as an agent of the U.S. Dept. of War to be the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, among other duties in what was then known as the Southwest Territory. Henley Bridge is named after him. 37. The National Conservation Exposition held in Knoxville in 1913 planted the seeds for the creation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which opened in 1933 and is America's most-visited national park. 38. UT was founded as Blount College in 1794. It wasn't called the University of Tennessee until 1879. 39. In Ross Quarry inside Ijams Nature Center there's a passageway called the Keyhole that leads to an otherwise inaccessible part of the abandoned quarry. And it feels like you're on King Kong's Skull Island when visiting. 46 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Knoxville
Source: Photo by the author
40. The quarried rock formations above the Keyhole resemble a giant stone sitting place locals are fond of calling "God's Chair." 41. Adolf Ochs, who would go on to become owner/publisher of the “New York Times,” began his newspaper career at 11 years old as an apprentice typesetter for the “Knoxville Chronicle” in 1870. 42. Knoxville saw a bit of Old West-style outlaw mayhem in 1901 when a member of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch, Kid Curry, shot two deputies, was captured, thrown in the Knoxville Jail, escaped, and galloped out of town on the sheriff's horse. 46 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Knoxville
Source: Wikimedia Commons (public domain)
43. It's very much a water town. Not only does the Tennessee River cut through Knoxville, it's surrounded by 7 lakes, with many more nearby. 44. Norris Dam north of Knoxville was the first major project of the Tennessee Valley Authority in the 1930s. 46 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Knoxville
Source: Photo by the author
45. Bowling was a more common sport in Knoxville in 1859 than baseball, basketball and football, because none of those other now more prominent sports had been introduced yet. There was once a bowling saloon on Market Square. 46. Knoxville was more divided than most Southern cities over the issue of secession. During the Civil War, there was even a pro-Union newspaper in town. What’s your favorite Knoxville fun fact? Tell us in the comments below!