Oak Ridge Highway (TN-62) in Karns
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The community was formerly called Beaver Ridge. However, in 1913 when the first high school building was erected in Karns, the school was named in honor of Professor Thomas Conner Karns (1845–1911), the first Superintendent of Public Instruction for Knox County. Later, in the 1950s, the community voted to officially change its name from Beaver Ridge/Byington to Karns.
Karns is located in Beaver Creek Valley between Beaver Ridge and Copper Ridge, both of which are elongate ridges typical of the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians. The center of the community is located at (35.982, -84.114). Elevation ranges from about 960 to 1,000 feet (300 m) above sea level. Beaver Creek, a tributary of the Clinch River, flows through the community.
Karns has grown from primarily a farming area to a community with a population of over 19,000. Mixed among the remaining farms and pastures are subdivisions, small businesses, schools, and light industry. Industries in the community include Unitrac Railroad Materials, a manufacturer of railroad components. The Karns schools are part of Knox County Schools, and including Karns High School, enroll over 3,700 students from Karns, Ball Camp, Hardin Valley, and Solway. Most people commute to work outside of the community.
Karns is the site of several public schools operated by Knox County Schools. Public elementary schools in the area are Karns Elementary School, Ball Camp Elementary School, Amherst Elementary School, and Hardin Valley Elementary School. Three middle schools, Karns Middle School, and Hardin Valley Middle, and Northwest Middle includes grades 6, 7, and 8. The community's long-time high school is Karns High School. A new high school, Hardin Valley Academy, opened in 2008 to reduce pressure on Karns, Farragut, and Bearden High Schools due to growth in the student population in western Knox County.
Pellissippi State Community College is also located in the Hardin Valley area of Karns.
The Karns Fire Department serves a 65-square-mile (170 km2) area of western Knox County from four fire stations located in Karns, Ball Camp, Hardin Valley and Solway. Karns Fire Department provides fire suppression, emergency medical first responder services, public assists, and rescue services on a subscription-based service. Ambulance services are primarily provided by American Medical Response (AMR), per contract with Knox County. The Knox County Sheriff's Department is responsible for law enforcement services.
- "Karns, Tennessee". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- Laura Luttrell, Mary Rothrock (ed.), "Pioneers and Civic Leaders," The French Broad-Holston Country: A History of Knox County, Tennessee (East Tennessee Historical Society, 1972), p. 435.
- Karns Community website and Robert J. Booker, Sources good for schools' history Archived 2006-12-09 at the Wayback Machine, Knoxville News Sentinel, January 17, 2006.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Ed Marcum, Chugging along:Karns-based maker of railroad components thriving as more companies ship by train, Knoxville News Sentinel, August 23, 2008
- Hardin Valley Academy, Knoxville.com website (E.W. Scripps Company).
- Grace Christian Academy
- Karns Community website
- Karns Fire Department website