Tracy City is a town in Grundy County, Tennessee, United States. Incorporated in 1915, the population was 1,481 at the 2010 census. Named after Benjamin Franklin Tracy, the city developed out of railroad and mining interests after coal was found in 1840. Tracy City is also home to the oldest family bakery in Tennessee, Dutch Maid Bakery. In 2010 the people of Tracy City elected a dead man, Carl Robin Geary, as mayor.
In 1840 local boys digging a groundhog out of the ground discovered coal. In the early 1870's Tracy City an experimental blast furnace was built by Samuel Jones and owned by the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company. The furnace, called "Fiery Gizzard", was built to see if local coal would be used to produce iron. The furnace made 15 tons of iron before the stovepipe fell on the third day. The former location of the furnace is marked with a historical marker. The coke ovens at Tracy City supplied railroad and industrial fuel and workers and their families moved into the area in great numbers from 1875 until 1900. By 1910 the industry faded due to problems invoked by labor unions and convict labor. In 1987 the coke ovens were placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Tracy City was incorporated in 1915.
Arsonists destroyed Tracy City's James K. Shook School in 1976 after this 1971 photo.
Tracy City has featured prominently in Grundy County's history of arson. Ten buildings in the business district were set alight in 1935. The 100-year-old L&N Depot, 86-year-old James K. Shook School, various waterworks, schools, a lumber yard, and a doctor's clinic were also torched in the 20th century.
Tracy City is home to the Dutch Maid Bakery, the oldest family bakery in Tennessee. It was opened in 1902 by John Baggenstoss and continues to utilize original receipes that Baggenstoss brought from Switzerland. The bakery is open to the public. The Marugg Company is headquartered in Tracy City. The company, founded in 1873 by Swiss settler Christian Marugg, designs and manufactures European style scythes. Open to the public for tours, the Marugg Company was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
Arts and cultureTracy City serves as the location of the Grundy County Historical Society and Tracy City Library. Twelve churches are located in Tracy City, including the Tracy City First Baptist Church, which was founded in 1892.
Parks and Recreation
Tracy City is at one end of the Fiery Gizzard Trail, renowned for scenic beauty and diversity.
The town has a road side picnic area and Tracy City Mini Park. The town also has a community center, the Plainview Community Center.
In 2010 Tracy City residents elected Carl Robin Geary as mayor. Geary died of a heart attack on March 10, and on April 12 he was elected, beating incumbent Barbara Bock 268 votes to 85.
American college football player and University of Miami coach Charlie Tate was born in Tracy City. Miss Tennessee 1939, Judy Jones was from Tracy City. Baseball player Phil Douglas is buried in Tracy City Cemetery, even though he died in Sequatchie, Tennessee. Ernst Leonhardt was born to a Swiss emigrant couple in Tracy City in September 1885. He held dual citizenship and returned to Switzerland as a child. Leonhardt became involved in politics in 1932 when he joined the National Front, and before long he had risen to the rank of Gauführer (equivalent to Gauleiter) in both Basel-City and the Canton of Solothurn. Leonhardt relocated to Germany in 1939 and continued his pro-Nazi activism from there. In his absence, the Swiss courts found Leonhardt of attacking the Swiss Confederation's independence and illegally recruiting for a foreign military (i. e. the SS) and was sentenced to fifteen and a half years in prison. His Swiss citizenship was revoked in 1943. He remained in Germany for the rest of his life, continuing to produce propaganda. He was killed in an air raid in March 1945.