As capital of the Southwest Territory of the United States, Knoxville’s centralized location spurred significant migration to the city during the early 1800s. The population’s pioneering spirit generated early economic growth, attracting skilled workers to the region and prompting entrepreneurs to establish businesses downtown.
That spirit sustained the city through the Civil War, after which, railroad expansion ushered in an era of wholesaling and manufacturing.
In the 1870s and 1880s, residents leveraged the region’s natural resources to open manufacturing centers for marble and stone works, timber products, furniture, and iron works, distributing their goods on the young nation’s newly-minted railways.
Demand for these products stimulated the creation and expansion of numerous manufacturing companies – many that are still an active part of Knoxville’s business community today.