Originally — we’re talking 1856 here — it was Coal Creek, after the stream that runs through the town. You might even remember the Coal Creek War, which kicked off in 1891 when owners of area coal mines got the idea of replacing their paid labor, which might at any moment unionize, with convicts leased from Tennessee prisons. The conflict lasted over a year; the memories persisted a bit longer, and in 1936 the town was renamed Lake City, there being a new lake not too far up the road, thanks to the TVA’s Norris Dam.
Now comes the possibility of a third name, this one courtesy of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant:
[I]n Lake City, supporters hope a name change would have them tuning in newfound prosperity.
Development plans include a Disney-style interactive, 3-D animated theater; a Branson, Mo.-style live music venue; an indoor-outdoor waterpark and a 500-seat paddleboat restaurant on an as yet-to-be-constructed artificial lake, according to Anderson County Commissioner Tim Isbel.
Of course, it’s not just for the bling:
At city hall Thursday night, a standing-room-only crowd broke into loud applause after the council took the first step toward making the change, voting to ask the state legislature for authorization. State Rep. John Ragan was at the meeting and said he thought it would pass easily in Nashville.
One of those in attendance was Gordon Cox, a long-time Lake City resident whose grandfather served several terms as mayor. Cox said the city has lost so many businesses in recent years that it is in danger of becoming unincorporated and losing its police force.
“Only good can happen from this name change,” he said.
The Bryants, who supposedly wrote “Rocky Top” in ten minutes, weren’t available for comment, having long since passed on; however, BMI, I’m pretty sure, wouldn’t have any complaint.