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Possibly as early as 1797, George Farragut operated a ferry between West Knox County and the road to Friendsville in Blount County

In 1792, Alexander Cunningham operate a ferry from South to North, at the mout of White's Creek.

In 1795, James White received permission to have a ferry between his landing, at the mouth of White's Creek

The ferry was bought by Abraham Low (Lowe), on April 30, 1807, and the Lowe family carried on the business for nearly one hundred years.

Alexander McCarter, ferry operator, Knox County 1811-1813

George Michael Huffaker, who moved with his family to Seven Islands in east Knox County

Armstrong's Ferry, Brabson Ferry, Hodges Ferry,Lowe's Ferry, Ruggles Ferry,Wrights Ferry Ferries

Francis Ramsay's Ferry sometime between 1806 and 1812


Ferry Map



In 1792, Charles McClung from whom the numerous and honorable McClung family of Knoxville have descended, came from the vicinity of Philadelphia, Pa. and by the first county court held in Knox county, was engaged to locate a public highway from Knoxville west to Campbell's station, and thence to the western boundary of Knox county. There was already a bridle path following pretty closely after an Indian trail to Sinking creek, but here a divergence was necessary. At Campbell's station there was a block house and a considerable settlement. In this connection it is important to note that the Indian trails usually followed the ridges in order that the Indians following these trails might overlook the valleys in which settlements were for the most part made and thus discover the existence of settlements from the rising columns of blue smoke ascending from the cabins in the nooks and crannies of the forests. Just east of Sinking creek this trail turned abruptly to the south extending in that direction for a short distance, then ran along the slope of Chestnut or McAnally's ridge to an Indian town on the Tennessee river near the present site of Concord, and thence to the Cherokee country beyond the Little Tennessee. The road as originally laid out by Mr McClung was about thirty feet wide, cut the greater portion of the way through the primeval forest. At that time the county of Knox contained only about 2,000 inhabitants and this undertaking was one of no small magnitude. Many years later the road was widened to fifty feet, every land owner along the way freely giving of his land, to the extent made necessary by this widening of the road. Before the beginning of the present century, the road reached Kingston and later on it formed a part of the great national highway from Washington to Knoxville to Nashville to Montgomery and to New Orleans.

Along this national highway, the means and methods of travel were wonderfully different from those at present in vogue. On that part of it between Knoxville and Washington, in 1842, there was a line of stages called, "The Great Western Line," and in the advertisement of the company owning and operating this line, they said that the trip between the two cities could be made in six days and six hours. The line ran by the way of Warm Springs, Asheville, Rutherfordton, Salisbury, and Greensboro to Raleigh, a distance of 385 miles, the fare between Knoxville and Raleigh being $25. From Raleigh to Washington the traveler went by rail and steamboat a distance of 288 miles making the entire distance 673 miles. From Raleigh to Washington the fare was $19, making the fare between Knoxville and Washington $44, the time only six days and six hours being considered remarkably short, as it in reality was considering the means of travel. The schedule time now is 19 hours 50 minutes.

In 1876 Knox county established a workhouse for the punishment of criminals with the view of devoting their labor to the building of roads. Work was begun as soon as practicable and by January 1, 1892, there had been constructed seventy seven miles of turnpike roads. During 1892, there were constructed three miles of the Third Creek pike reaching Beaver ridge nine miles from Knoxville and also a mile on a branch of this pike into Hind's valley. There were also constructed five miles on the Kingston pike making eight miles in all this year, or nine miles considering the short branch into Hind's valley.

The River

The Tennessee river taken as a whole is a wonderful stream. From the junction of the Holston and French Broad which of late years has been considered its origin though formerly the name Holston was applied down to the confluence of the Little Tennessee, the distance to its mouth is 650 miles. Including its tributaries it has more than 1,300 miles of water navigable for steamboats and when only flat boats are taken into consideration it is navigable for more than 2,200 miles, that is it and its tributaries together. In 1820 the government appropriated several thousand dollars for the improvement of the Mussel Shoals and in 1829 it appropriated $4,000,000 for the construction of a canal round the shoals, but as there was no appropriation ever made either by the government of the United States or by the state of Alabama for keeping the canal in repair, it was neglected and was in use only a few years. And while previous to 1897, there had been considerable money spent in improving the river below Chattanooga, very little had been done in this way above that city.

But the amount of business done on the river showed that it was worthy of attention. In 1896, there were sixty-four steamboats on the river, with an aggregate capacity of 80,000 tons. During the year these sixty-four steamboats carried more than 20,000 passengers and 20,000,000 tons of freight. About 3,000,000 tons of this freight were carried between Knoxville and Chattanooga. The French Broad is used much more than other of the tributaries of the Tennessee, for the reason that there is but little railroad built up its valley. In 1896, the French Broad carried about forty times as much freight in value as had been expended on the Tennessee in its improvement, including all the appropriations made since the first one mentioned above in 1820.

The first steamboat to arrive at Knoxville was the Atlas, a small boat which had made its way through The Suck in the Tennessee river to Knoxville in 1826, and which greatly astonished the citizens by its movements. The commander of the Atlas was Captain Connor who was greeted on his arrival by a dinner and by speeches and was honorably toasted. The arrival of this little boat suggested to the citizens of Knoxville the possibilities of the navigation of the Holston and Tennessee rivers by means of steamboats, and almost immediately a company was organized with the view of purchasing a steamboat for the purpose. The steamboat thus purchased was designed to run between Knoxville and The Suck, the place where the Tennessee cuts through the Cumberland mountain range. One of the members of this company was sent to Cincinnati to make the purchase and the steamboat, thus purchased was brought to Knoxville, and named in honor of the town in which lived the members of the company that thus established the navigation of the Tennessee for the attempt of the Atlas to so navigate the river was only a suggestion as to what might be done. When this new steamboat the Knoxville arrived at the wharf there was great excitement in the town for it was looked upon as an event opening up a new era in its history.