East Tennessee Communities in the Smoky Mountains
Blount County, one of the oldest counties in Tennessee, was established in 1795. It’s named for William Blount, governor of the United States territory south of the Ohio River, and is situated in eastern Tennessee on the border with Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Located near the geographic center of the eastern United States, Blount County is within 500 miles of about half of the U.S. population. It’s bordered on the east by Great Smoky Mountains National Park and on the west by the great chain of lakes created by the Tennessee Valley Authority. The Little Tennessee River parallels the southern border.
The county is served by several major highways: U.S. Highway 129, 411 and 321; State Route I-140, 33 and 95; and State Highway 73, which leads directly into Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
It’s estimated that nearly 10 million people visit the Smoky Mountains each year, making it the most-visited of the national parks.
Formerly known as Tuckaleechee Cove, Townsend was renamed when W. B. Townsend traveled from Pennsylvania to set up his sawmill in the community. The city, which sits at the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is known as the “Peaceful Side of the Smokies.”
Townsend is home to more than a dozen hotels and motels, several bed and breakfasts, campgrounds and businesses that offer cabins and cottages. It offers a variety of recreational opportunities including bike trails, hiking trails in the national park, golf and swimming in a popular stretch of the Little River known as the Townsend “Y.”
Maryville was named in honor of William Blount’s wife, Mary Grainger Blount. The city was established in 1790, but the area was first settled in 1785 by settlers who came primarily from Virginia.
Parks are located throughout the city and include an eight-mile fitness and bike trail interwoven through downtown and designed to link Alcoa’s Springbrook Park and Maryville’s Sandy Spring Park.
Incorporated in 1919, Alcoa was formerly known as North Maryville; it was later named Alcoa, after the Aluminum Company of America.
The Knoxville metropolitan airport, McGhee Tyson Airport, is located in Alcoa. The airport’s location makes it convenient to Maryville, Townsend and Knoxville.
Louisville is located on the Tennessee River, making it a popular recreational area. In 1959, the TVA made Louisville Point Park available to Blount County for recreational use.
Located in Louisville, the James Gillespie House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house was built between 1800 and 1824 and is known for its Federalist architecture and engineering.
Friendsville is located near Fort Loudon Dam. The backwaters of Fort Loudoun Lake provide an ideal area for outdoor recreation.
Friendsville is home to Mister Station Store and People’s Bank of Friendsville, both listed on the National Register of Historic Places and known for their architectural significance.