Blair's Ferry History
In the late 1700’s James Blair and several brothers and sisters settled in the area that is now The Blair Bend Industrial Park. By early in the 19th century James began to operate a small ferry to transport travelers farm stock and equipment across the Tennessee River from his holdings on the north bank to Indian territory on the south bank. For several years he conducted this enterprise in partnership with Pathkiller, the Cherokee Indian sub-chief who claimed the land on the south side (Loudon.) Pathkiller received the tolls of northbound travelers, while Blair collected tolls from those traveling south.
In 1818, James purchased Pathkiller’s land and his interest in the ferry, he continued to operate the ferry until his death in 1826. His youngest son Wiley inherited his father’s land and ferry. Wiley continued to operate the ferry until his death in 1854 and was passed to his children. The Blair family continued to run the ferry until 1947 when it closed.
The old boat ramp on the Loudon side of the river was the actual ferry landing on that bank. The north bank landing was at the present location of the Viskase Plant. The ferry boat was held on course by a large cable strung between two tall towers on each bank upstream with a trolley system running along the cable. Ropes were attached to those trolleys and then connected to each end of the ferry.