Harriman was founded in the late
19th century by activists in the Temperance movement who advocated
abstinence from alcohol.
The city is named for Walter
Harriman, a governor of New Hampshire whose son, Walter C.
Harriman, was managing director of the East Tennessee Land
Company. As a Colonel (later General) in the Union Army during
the Civil War, he had traveled on foot through the area with
his 11th New Hampshire Regiment and camped for several days
on the Emory River near the future site of the city.
Harriman's founders established
the American Temperance University here to promote this social
doctrine; its 1905 building is one of the city's main historic
The city thrived and grew from
its founding into the 1920s until the combination of the stock
market crash and a devastating flood of the Emory River, both
in 1929, wiped out much of the city's industry. A paper mill
and two hosiery mills provided the largest share of jobs in
the city through the rest of the twentieth century, with the
paper mill (a Mead Corporation property) and the hosiery companies
(Harriman Hosiery, formerly a Burlington Corp. plant, and
independent Roane Hosiery) operating into the 1980s.
The city got a boost in the 1940s
and 1950s from heavy automobile traffic on US 27, which forms
the town's main street and was a primary artery connecting
the Great Lakes region with Florida before I-75 was completed.
The routing of Interstate 40 along Harriman's western edge
connected the community more closely with Knoxville but never
produced the kind of modern industrial development inside
the town that community leaders expected.
The city, still quaint but clearly
different now from its economic heyday, shows considerable
evidence of being a "planned community". Its streets
are basically in a grid pattern, unusual for mountain towns
of the area, and are wider than would normally be expected
as well. There remains a considerable number of homes displaying
Victorian architecture as well -- many of which have been
either painstakingly maintained or lovingly restored. The
Temperance heritage was slow to depart. There was no liquor
store in Harriman until 1993.
Information provided by Wikipedia.