Campbell County’s largest town is also its most recent. LaFollette was originally built on rolling farm land that had belonged to Laban Sharp, John Myers, and John Douglas. Formerly the area was known as Big Creek Gap. Big Creek Gap was a natural pass through the mountains carved by Big Creek, which passes through the center of old LaFollette. During the American Civil War both sides fought for and occupied the gap and some of the trench works are still visible today.
In the summer of 1956, LaFollette Community Hospital opened with 44 beds, 41 employees and one delivery room. Four years later, a new wing was built adding 32 new beds and an emergency room.
LaFollette is a rarity in that the City was planned and built from scratch. LaFollette was named in honor of Harvey M. LaFollette of Indiana who conceived a bold business venture that included the construction of a City to support his planned business activities. Iron deposits along with abundant coal resources attracted Harvey LaFollette to this area where he purchased over thirty thousand (30,000) acres of land. The LaFollette Coal, Iron and Railway Company was organized and by 1897 was a growing concern as part of a thriving city. The LaFollette operation included coke ovens (some of which are currently being restored by the Campbell County Historical Society), blast furnace, numerous coal mines, iron mines, railroads, and of course a thriving city.
Harvey LaFollette and his family presided over this commercial empire from their home, Glen Oaks. This lovely Victorian home is still LaFollette’s largest home with twenty seven (27) rooms. Listed with the National Register of Historic Properties, the home was designed by the famous Knoxville architect, George Barber. Although later additions were made, the original house was shipped by railroad and assembled on site as a kit home. The house is located on Indiana Avenue near the Campbell County Museum and Archives.
Economic boom of the roaring ‘20s and most operations ceased around 1926.
LaFollette absorbed the loss of its primary business and continued to thrive, in part due to US 25W, also knows as the Dixie Highway, which passes through LaFollette. Over the year’s of progressive leadership and planning have kept LaFollette a thriving community with all the modern amenities expected of a progressive city. These amenities include a modern water treatment system, recently renovated hospital, and modern schools. LaFollette is located only minutes from mountains or Norris Lake and explains why today LaFollette is a major tourist destination.