HAMBLEN COUNTY


Downtown Morristown
County Seat: Morristown

Morristown is the only small town in Tennessee (and perhaps in America) with sidewalks on the second floor. Back in the 1970s, when its downtown was renovated, the idea of second-floor sidewalks seemed to make sense. After all, with sidewalks on the street, and sidewalks on the second floor as well, buildings in downtown Morristown would get twice as much commerce, right? Today people in Morristown don't agree about whether this was a good idea. But they can at least tell other people from across the state about their second-floor sidewalks.

An old picture of the rayon plant in Lowland
PHOTO: TN State Library and Archives

Another story: A lot of clothes are made out of rayon. No doubt you have something hanging in your closet that is made of rayon. In any case, there is only one place left where rayon is being made -- a small town in Hamblen County called Lowland.

 

The plant was originally owned by a company called Enka, but now it is owned by Lenzing. And it almost never makes the news – except once. Way back in 1950, there was a big strike at the Enka plant that made national news. People walked off the job together asking for higher wages, but the company that ran the plant simply hired replacement workers (often called scabs). Violence ensued; a man was shot and killed; and bombs were thrown into people’s houses. Two U. S. Senators came down from the North to show support for the striking workers, and after they left the violence got worse. (One of those senators, Hubert Humphrey, later became vice president under Lyndon Johnson.) Finally, Governor Gordon Browning sent in the national guard. Eventually, the trouble passed.



Here's the Hamblen County Courthouse.