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History of Harriman

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 landmarks.

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.

Cornstalk Heights
Historical District


Churches in Harriman
(Hover over each picture to see past images)

Presbyterian Church
First Christian Church
Methodist Church


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