As a name, Seven Islands began appearing as a description for one area along the French Broad in the early 1800s, when the shoals here presented a forbidding hazard to sternwheelers. Perhaps the name was a literal enumeration of islands in the French Broad as they were at the time. Two centuries later, there may not be exactly seven islands in the French Broad, but it's still a turn in the river that, after more than a century of major floods and a slowing of the river by TVA's management, supports multiple small islands. A couple of these islands are large enough to have permanent names (Round Island, Newman's Island).
The exceptionally beautiful part of the riverfront was purchased by the Claussen family, which created the Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge, eventually donating it to become a state birding park.