In person History Talks at Maple Hall: Every Second Thursday of the month at 6:00 p.m.
History Happy Hours (Virtual Talks on Zoom): Every Third Thursday of the month at 6:00 p.m.
Register in advance for this meeting:
Join Jack Neely for an illustrated “virtual walk” around one of Knoxville’s oldest, and most fascinating, cemeteries.
Founded in 1850, it was named in honor of Thomas Gray, the English poet famous for “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.” Within walking distance of downtown Old Gray is Knoxville’s best example of the “Garden Cemetery” movement that began in Paris in the early 19th century. Although privately owned, from its earliest days Old Gray stood in for a public park in a city that lacked one.
Jack will tell the stories of the most interesting memorials within Old Gray. For a brief overview of the cemetery and who is buried then, please visit our Old Gray Cemetery page in the Historic Cemeteries section of the Knoxville History Portal.
Historian, poet, and storyteller Laura Still helps you live the stories of pioneers, soldiers, outlaws, and even fictional characters who walked these streets before you. Learn more about Laura and her story on our Knoxville Walking Tours Page.
Knoxville has a rich history full of colorful characters and famous, and infamous, figures whose lives have been the inspiration for books, movies, and works of art. Take a stroll through history in beautiful downtown Knoxville while listening to true tales of the heroes, heels, and hardened criminals that are part of the hidden lore of this unique East Tennessee town. A portion of ticket proceeds are donated to KHP.
Masks are now optional for most tours. The tours are all outdoors, your guide is vaccinated, and the current CDC guidelines say it’s safe to give our faces some fresh air. We’re still keeping the groups small and if you’d still prefer to play it extra-safe, we’re happy to mask up.
Bring a mask in case we run into crowded sidewalks or you need to go inside somewhere. Most buildings downtown will require them. Your guide carries extras. More details on COVID-19 and Knoxville walking Tours here.
We’ve reduced our minimum group size to 3 adult tickets / $60 so you don’t need a big group. For couples, that means paying $10 extra per ticket, but you get Laura’s undivided attention and you can ask her anything about Knoxville and its history. She never runs out of fascinating stories!
To book, just give Knoxville Walking Tours a call at (865) 309-4522
Side Street Shadows Ghost Tour
Hear more tales of ghostly history as you follow storyteller Laura Still on the Side Street Shadows tour. Find out who haunts the Farragut, how a gunfight on Cumberland nearly started a war, and where you might meet the courteous spirit of a scholar or the grumpy ghost of a violent rebel. Details & Tickets
Shadow Side Ghost Tour
Brave souls who enjoy a chill can join us for a trip into Knoxville’s shadow side. The city’s history of blood-stained streets echoing with gunfire is full of restless spirits. Visit their haunts and hear local legends of ghostly apparitions. Details & Tickets
Shadow Side 2: Ghosts of the Old City
Red Summer, drunken brawls, hot lead, and blood on the tracks. Knoxville’s Old City used to be known as the bowery, where victims of murderous brawls, dealdly shoot-outs, and horrific train crashes haunt the old buildings and back alleys along with the ghost of a musician who hasn’t quite faded away. Details & Ticket
Walk the streets of a city torn in two by divided loyalties and then get an overview of the fighting from the observation deck of the Sunsphere. Spies, bridge burners, miracle shots, betrayal, and battle. Details & Tickets
Family feuds and wanted outlaws. You’ll relive the days when Knoxville was the wild west and Gay Street was the OK Corral. Details & Tickets
Step back over two centuries and visit Knoxville’s founders as you listen to the stories of the settlement of White’s Fort and establishment of the capital of the Southwest Territory at the headwaters of the Tennessee. Details & Tickets
The Knoxville story has always been set to music, from the time when the poetic rhythms of the native Cherokee tribes still echoed in the hills and the ballads of the Scots-Irish settlers were sung around campfires on the riverbanks. Immigrants from all over the world brought new instruments and tunes to enliven the song and make Knoxville home to musicians of every genre. Details & Tickets
Home of Cormac McCarthy, Nikki Giovanni, James Agee, and more. You’ll visit the scenes that inspired them and walk in the footsteps of their characters. Details & Tickets
The Civil War in Knoxville
It’s been over 150 years since the battle of Knoxville, one of the most sharply divided cities during the civil war. Occupied by both sides with recruiting offices set up on Gay Street on the same day, Knoxville was home to spies, street fights, and family feuds that outlasted the war. Visit the downtown sites and then get an overview of the battles and fortifications from the observation deck of the Sunsphere. Details & Tickets
Knoxville Botanical Gardens
Ten years before Tennessee became a state, David Wessels Howell planted an orchard and garden on land where the Cherokee still roamed. This was the beginning of a family business that would span two centuries, from the frontier days through the Civil War and the industrial age to modern times. Now the Howell family’s legacy has been preserved as a public garden spanning 47 acres, with walking trails and hand-laid stone walls that cross through sunny meadows and leafy glades among an astonishing variety of trees and plants. Come walk with us and hear its stories and secrets. Details & Tickets
Old Gray Cemetery
Just north of downtown Knoxville, Old Gray Cemetery is a little-known historic jewel. Founded in 1850 as part of the rural park cemetery movement, it became a popular destination for carriage rides and picnics in its early days. Join us for a guided tour of notable interments and hear stories of statesmen, soldiers, scholars, and spirits. Details & Tickets