Knoxville, Iowa

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Knoxville is a city in Marion County, Iowa, United States. The population was 7,731 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Marion County[1]. Knoxville is home of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum located next to the famous dirt track known as Knoxville Raceway.



The site for the future county seat of Marion County was selected because it was within a mile of the geographic center of the county, reasonably level and near a good source of timber. The first town lots were sold in 1845, and the town was named after General Knox to commemorate his service in the American Revolutionary War.[2]

In early 1853, the citizens of Marion County created a committee to attract railroad development to the county and to Knoxville, with members promising to buy shares in any railroad that reached town. The first contender was the Muscatine, Oskaloosa & Council Bluffs, proposing an east-west line that would pass through Knoxville. By 1875, when this line reached Knoxville, it was the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. The second railroad to reach Knoxville was the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, which completed a line from Oskaloosa in 1876.[3]

Systematic coal mining in Marion County began with the Union Coal Company's mine in Flagler, 4 miles (6 km) west of Knoxville in around 1874 or 1875. For several years, the Number 5 mine in Flagler was one of the most productive in Iowa, employing around 150 men and working a coal vein over 8 feet (2.5 m) thick. The Oak Hill coal company also had mines in Flagler.

Shortly after the railroad reached Knoxville, J. T. James opened a coal mine in town just 8 blocks north of the courthouse. This mine continued in operation until 1890. A second mine nearby was operated by W. A. Gamble. In the 1880s, the White Breast Fuel Company opened the Number 11 mine at Flagler. This mine operated in a coal vein that was locally up to 14 feet thick, but only locally. The mine continued operating until 1892, working in progressively thinner coal as it expanded.[4]


According to the census[5] of 2000, there were 7,731 people, 3,191 households, and 1,984 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,746.2 people per square mile (673.8/km²). There were 3,418 housing units at an average density of 772.0/sq mi (297.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.00% White, 0.88% African American, 0.31% Native American, 0.52% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.28% from other races, and 0.94% from two or more races. 0.83% of the population were Hispanics or Latinos of any race.

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