Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Welcome sign along Morganton Road
Greenback is a city in Loudon County, Tennessee, United States. Its population was at 1,064, according to the 2010 census. It is included in the Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Morganton in 1939
Main article: Morganton, Tennessee
Looking across Morganton Cemetery toward the former site of Morganton, Tennessee, which is now under the lake in the background.
For thousands of years, Native Americans hunted and camped along the banks of the Little Tennessee River. The Icehouse Bottom site, located a few miles southwest of Greenback, is believed to have been inhabited as early as 9,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest known habitation sites in Tennessee. By the time Euro-American explorers and settlers arrived in the area in the 18th century, the villages of the Overhill Cherokee dominated the river, stretching from the village of Tallassee (near modern Calderwood) to Mialoquo (near the modern US-411 bridge). In the late 1790's, the Tellico Blockhouse was expanded to help facilitate trade between the Overhill towns and Knoxville, which was a few miles downstream to the north. As there were no major bridges spanning the Little Tennessee at the time, ferries became an important means of getting across the river. Among the earliest and most important of these ferries was the one at Morganton, located a few miles west of what is now Greenback.
Morganton Ferry— initially called "Wear's Ferry"— was established in the late 18th century, and had grown into a small community known as "Portville" by 1810. It was officially chartered as "Morganton" in 1813, named after Revolutionary War veteran and local merchant, Gideon Morgan. Around this time, the Tellico Agency was moved from the Tellico Blockhouse to Fort Southwest Point (now Kingston), expanding Southwest Point's importance and influence. In response, a road quickly developed between Maryville and Southwest Point. Since the road crossed the Little Tennessee at the Morganton Ferry, the road became known to Blount Countians as Morganton Road. The first commercial structure in what is now Greenback was probably the Norwood Inn, which was a stopover for merchants and farmers traveling from Maryville to Morganton. Traffic along Morganton Road increased steadily until the American Civil War, when intrastate commerce declined.
In the years leading up the Civil War, a cave in the Morganton and Greenback area is believed to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad, perhaps reflecting the area's ties to abolitionist-heavy Blount County.
Alleghany Springs And The Railroad
An old railroad depot in Greenback
In 1859, entrepreneur Jesse Kerr established a hotel and health resort at the mineral-rich Sulphur Springs near the base of Chilhowee Mountain several miles southeast of Morganton (the resort was located near the modern junction of US-129 and TN-336). The resort was connected to Morganton Road by a stagecoach road which roughly paralleled what is now Highway 95.
In 1876, Lorenzo Thompson established Thompson's Stand, a general store situated at the junction of the Sulphur Springs coach road and Morganton Road. Hoping to draw traffic to his store, Thompson submitted a request to establish a post office at Thompson's Stand in 1882. The Postal Service rejected his initial name for the town of Thompson Station, as well as subsequent submissions Pine Grove and Alleghany Station, all of which were already taken. The town finally settled on the name "Greenback," which was inspired by a local politician and member of the Greenback Party named Jonathan Tipton.
In 1885, Indiana businessman Nathan McCoy purchased the Sulphur Springs resort with plans to expand it. In the summer of 1886, the resort reopened with a newly-constructed 3-story, 60-room hotel under the new name of Alleghany Springs. The resort was instrumental in luring the L&N Railroad to the head of its coach road at Greenback, where it had established Alleghany Station for its guests making the trek from Knoxville.
Greenback in the 20th Century
Greenback Mills, photographed in 1942
With the arrival of passenger train service from Knoxville, Greenback grew quickly. In the early 1890's, the young town had its own grist mill, blacksmith, physician, shoemaker, and general store. In the early 20th century, the L&N Railroad constructed a second line through the town, opening a depot in 1914. By 1920, the town had its own bank and several industries, including the Greenback Motor Company. In 1923, the town added the Greenback Drug Company (which is still in operation, primarily as a diner). Several fires throughout the 1920's and the Great Depression, however, halted the town's rapid growth.
Greenback was officially incorporated in 1957, with Glenn McTeer as its first mayor. A community center— built by the town's residents with no outside help or outside funding— was completed in 1978. It now houses a library, the city hall, and recreational facilities.
On September 22, 1964, one of the first confrontations between TVA and conservation groups over the proposed Tellico Dam project took place in a meeting at Greenback High School. TVA had called the meeting in hopes of gaining the support of locals, and the agency was surprised when most of the 400 or so in attendance vehemently opposed the project. TVA Chairman Aubrey Wagner, who spoke on the Authority's behalf, was continuously interrupted throughout his speech. At one point, Wagner was shouted down by legendary Monroe County judge Sue K. Hicks, who as president of the Fort Loudoun Association feared the destruction of the historic fort's site by the proposed dam's reservoir.
In 2011, Greenback's residents were featured in an H&R Block television commercial as part of the company's nationwide campaign to promote its income tax preparation services. Along with free tax services for several dozen residents, the company donated several thousand dollars to Greenback School.
In 2010, a small EF-1 tornado touched down south of US 411. In 2011, three tornadoes touched down. One, an EF-3 tornado, touched down in March 2011, and caused major damage and injuries, though no deaths. Two EF-0 tornadoes touched down during the April 27, 2011 Tornado Super Outbreak, though no major damage or injuries were reported. On February 29, 2012, an EF-0 tornado touched down, though no major damage or injuries were reported.
Greenback City Government
Greenback Historical Society
Posted by Palmer at 6:55 AM