Book tells of city’s Utopian beginning

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By Cindy Simpson

Two years after the “Great Land Sale” that began what would become the city of Harriman, a book was printed detailing the city’s earnest beginnings.
A copy of the book, “Two Years of Harriman, Tenn.,” is being donated to the Roane Heritage Commission by Bill and Marty Goolsby.
“Bill is a historian. He likes stuff like that,” said his father Walt Goolsby, who shared the book.
Walt Goolsby said his son acquired this and other books from the old Hart homeplace, which he said the family had. The name Elizabeth Hart is written in the inside of the book.
In addition to historical tidbits such as the well known prohibitionist origins of the town, the book includes images such as an art piece showing Wall Street in “Shacktown” the summer of 1890;  a horse and buggy scene on a dirt Roane Street, large historical homes on Cumberland Street including pictures of the furnishings inside the homes of such as those of Frederick Gates, the second vice president of the East Tennessee Land Company; the Harriman Bank and Trust Building, the Cumberland Hotel and much more.
The first chapter describes Harriman’s history and topography and calls the second anniversary of Harriman “Pioneers’ Day.”’
The chapter details the Great Land Sale, when buildings were temporarily on flat land near the old farmhouse of Col. R.K. Byrd, and the temporary shacks that popped up before and after the sale were dubbed “Shacktown.”
Six-hundred lots for over $600,000 were sold and 3,000 people from 15 states came to the sale that created Harriman, the prohibitionist town at Big Emory Gap, “where the Emory River breaks its way through Walden’s Ridge, after its rapid descent from the Cumberland Plateau.”
The town was situated between the Cincinnati Southern Railway on the west and the Walden’s Ridge division of the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railway on the north and 50 miles west of Knoxville.
“In this favored spot, in a State largely defended from saloon influences by the Four-mile Law, certain well-known advocates of Prohibition had resolved on creating an industrial town, where labor should have its own, where homes and churches and schools might find their highest chance, free from the liquor traffic,” the book said.
General Clinton B. Fisk was among the Prohibitionists involved in the movement. Deeds had a provision forbidding the use of the property for the making, storing or selling of intoxicating beverages.