We could be living in Looney’s Bend, instead of Sequoyah Hills. In 1796, Moses Looney (1750–1817), who had served in various capacities with the failed State of Franklin during the 1780s, acquired a 700-acre tract of land in what is now Sequoyah Hills. He and his descendants remained on this land for several decades, and the area became known as "Looney's Bend."
Only an island in the Tennessee River retains the Looney name, however. From TVA’s perspective, this island is really just part of two sand bars in the river. When Fort Loudon Lake was created, the lower bar flooded, leaving only the larger island today and its breeding population of the Great Blue Heron. The deed to the property has been owned by TVA since 1942.
Looney’s Island, which was formed by silt from urban development about a century ago, is still the biggest silt accumulator in the county. The Corps of Engineers has to dredge it out every four years or so using on a dredger with clamshell-type shovel mounted on a crane. They dredge the channel and load the sediment onto a dump scow, then replace the sediment somewhere out of reach of the channel.
Early residents of Sequoyah Hills have vivid memories of Looney’s Island and the river, long before TVA dams made it a series of lakes. In Reflections on Sequoyah Hills, Iris Philleo described living on the island during World War II. The island was about 52 acres when she came to live with her stepfather’s family, Dave and Jane Humphrey. The Humphreys rented the land from Pete Gettys and George Ohler, owners of the Knoxville Sand and Gravel Company, who had a summer home on the island. The Humphrey’s driveway was about 100 yards upstream from the Indian Mound, and they crossed the river on a ferry using hand-pulled ropes. It must have been a fascinating place for children, who could find Indian artifacts like arrowheads and pottery. Iris recalls that the river below Cherokee Boulevard was a busy place, with squatters and migrants camping overnight and fishing for dinner. Bill Schriver, another early Sequoyah Hills native, also remembers the Humphrey’s farm on the island with its house and barn, as well as the ferry that ran from the bank on the boulevard side over to the island. (Another ferry crossed the river over to the Blow Farm, now Lakemoor Hills.) Back then, two paddle-wheel steamboats owned by the Knoxville Sand and Gravel Company worked the river and provided great entertainment. Nowadays, Looney’s Island is a highlight on boat tours along the river (unless you want to call it Fort Loudon Lake).