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city, Sullivan county, northeastern Tennessee, U.S., on the Holston River, near the Virginia border, about 90 miles (145 km) northeast of Knoxville. The area was settled in the late 1700s when entrepreneur William King founded a boatyard along the river. The region was part of the short-lived state of Franklin in the 1780s. In the early 1800s two towns, Christianville and Rossville, were laid out adjacent to each other; in 1822 these towns merged and became known as King's Port. A minor battle was fought there (December 13, 1864) during the American Civil War. The city began to develop about 1910 as the arrival of the railroad brought industry and commerce to the region. In 1916 land was purchased for a new town, and Massachusetts city planner John Nolen designed the modern city of Kingsport.