Appalachian Aspirations

The Geography of Urbanization and Development in the Upper Tennessee River Valley, 1865Ð1900

  • Author(s): Benhart, John, Jr.
  • Series:
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2007-05-15
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Hardcover - Cloth: Price $38.00 | Buy Now

“A groundbreaking examination of East Tennessee’s journey from mercantile to industrial capitalism and then its plunge into corporate capitalism right on the eve of the 1893 financial panic. Benhart brings it all to life by highlighting key industrial and city-planning projects, and by tracing the careers of pivotal capitalists.” –Paul Salstrom, author of Appalachia’s Path to Dependency: Rethinking a Region’s Economic History, 1730-1940

In the fall of 1865, two Union officers stationed in East Tennessee during the Civil War–Hiram Chamberlain and John Wilder–decided to stay in the South to pursue business careers. They recognized potential in the “untapped” resources they had seen during military operations in this part of the state. Within the space of four years, Chamberlain and Wilder had recruited business partners, built an operating iron furnace in the Upper Tennessee River Valley (the Roane Iron Company), and established a company town at Rockwood, Tennessee. Twenty years later, in some parts of Appalachia, new planned towns were being established by land companies that wanted to develop model industrial real estate ventures. In the Upper Tennessee River Valley, these new towns – Cardiff, Harriman, and Lenoir City, Tennessee – were planned to be the quintessential places for industrial production and urban living as they were characterized by urban/sanitary reform ideals, temperance tenets, and distinctive urban landscapes.

In Appalachian Aspirations, John Benhart presents the story of the evolution of capitalism and regional development in the Upper Tennessee River Valley in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The book’s conclusion focuses on what the story of this region between 1860 and 1900 tells us about development patterns in many parts of Appalachia during this period. The answer focuses on stages of capitalism, the role of individual capitalists and business entities, and the urban landscapes created in Appalachia through various capitalist strategies.

Appalachian Aspirations will be of particular value to students and scholars of urban and historical geography, regional development, and the New South era, as well as those interested in Appalachian studies.

John E. Benhart Jr. is professor and chair in the Department of Geography and Regional Planning at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. His articles have appeared in the Journal of Geography, Pennsylvania Geographer, and Historical Geography.