Powell, Tennessee

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Powell, Tennessee
The railroad tracks running through the heart of Downtown Powell.
The railroad tracks running through the heart of Downtown Powell.
Powell is located in Tennessee
Location in Tennessee and the United States
Powell is located in the United States
Powell (the United States)
Coordinates: 36°01′54″N 84°01′41″W / 36.03167°N 84.02806°W / 36.03167; -84.02806Coordinates: 36°01′54″N 84°01′41″W / 36.03167°N 84.02806°W / 36.03167; -84.02806
CountryUnited States
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
GNIS feature ID1298390[1]

Powell is an unincorporated community in Knox County, Tennessee, United States. The area is located in the Emory Road corridor (State Route 131), just north of Knoxville, southeast of Clinton, and east of Oak Ridge. The United States Geographic Names System classifies Powell as a populated place.[1] It is included in the Knoxville, Tennessee Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Despite its status as unincorporated, Powell is considered to be more of an "independent" small town than a suburb. One of the reasons behind this is that it was established in 1789 (two years before the establishment of Knoxville) by settlers passing through East Tennessee into the frontier. Among these early settlers was Stockley Donelson (1753–1804), a brother-in-law of President Andrew Jackson. Donelson's home, now known as the Alexander Bishop House, still stands on Bishop Lane.[2] Another early settler was John Manifee, a Revolutionary War veteran who built a small fort and trading station along what is now Clinton Highway in the late 1780s.[3]

The community's name is derived from the Powell Station train stop, which was in turn named for Columbus Powell, a prominent local resident.[3] The train station is not currently in use but remains in the town's "downtown" area. The railroad was essential to economy of early 20th century Powell as bricks were made with the mud from Beaver Creek and loaded onto the tracks and sent to various locations.[3] The tracks were originally part of the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railway (now part of the Norfolk Southern line).

The influence of the Old South's culture can still be seen today in Powell, mainly by architecture. There are several Antebellum homes located along Emory Road and the original neighborhoods of Powell. Several of the older homes in the original part of Powell are believed to have been used as Confederate hospitals during the Civil War.


Powell lies in the Beaver Creek Valley between Copper Ridge and Beaver Ridge, two narrow ridges typical of the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians. It is situated along Emory Road (SR 131) about halfway between Halls and Karns, and roughly spans the area between Interstate 75 to the east, and Clinton Highway (U.S. Route 25W) to the west. Knoxville lies opposite Beaver Ridge to the southeast.


  • The Weigel's chain of convenience stores started and is still headquartered in Powell.
  • The largest employer in Powell is DeRoyal Industries, which manufactures and markets medical products.
  • Powell was home to a Levi's jeans manufacturing plant that closed in 2002. The former Levi's property, adjacent to DeRoyal Industries, is now the site of Crown College.[4]


Public schools in Powell, operated by Knox County Schools, are:

  • Powell High School
  • Powell Middle School
  • Powell Elementary School
  • Brickey-McCloud Elementary School
  • Copper Ridge Elementary School

Church-related educational institutions in the community include:

Powell is well-noted throughout Knox County for its intense support of Powell High School Panther athletics. Powell High School constructed a new football stadium in 2009 and the football team is sponsored by Nike. The Panthers were Tennessee State Runners-Up in 1991 and 2011.[5]


Temple Baptist Church is a church located at 1700 Beaver Creek Drive in Powell.[6]

First Baptist Church is located at 7706 Ewing Road in Powell.

Many other smaller churches such as One Life-North, Powell Presbyterian, and Bells Camground Baptist are also located in Powell.

Notable people[edit]

In literature[edit]

The central action of James Agee's Pulitzer Prize winning memoir, A Death in the Family, takes place in Powell.[7]


  1. ^ a b "Powell, Tennessee". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  2. ^ The Wonderful 18th Century House of Alexander Bishop. "Ask Doc Knox," Metro Pulse, 9 August 2010. Accessed at the Internet Archive, 1 October 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Nannie Lee Hicks, Mary Rothrock (ed.), "Some Early Communities," The French Broad-Holston Country: A History of Knox County, Tennessee (East Tennessee Historical Society, 1972), pp. 338-339.
  4. ^ SunElCo Awards Archived 2008-09-08 at the Wayback Machine (website accessed September 22, 2208)
  5. ^ TSSAA Record Book, 2013. Retrieved: 22 July 2015.
  6. ^ Temple Baptist Church
  7. ^ Jack Neely, "The Blacksmith's House: The Slow Death of a Forgotten Literary Shrine, on Clinton Highway," Metro Pulse, 18 May 2000. Retrieved: 22 July 2015.

External links[edit]