“What I like best about Bledsoe County is we live in a county of people helping people.”
— Mary Standefer Beach
County seat: Pikeville
Population: 13,084 (94.6 percent white, 3.8 percent black, 0.4 American Indian, 0.1 Asian, 1.1 percent Hispanic)
Median household income: $34,655
Geographic features: Located at the head of the Sequatchie Valley, the 406-square-mile county sits in one of the most unusual valley landforms in the eastern United States.
Points of interest: Fall Creek Falls State Park, Bledsoe State Forest, South Main Street Historic District, Lincoln School, Bridgman House, Dr. Ross House
Top employers: Taft Youth Center, Southeastern Tennessee State Regional Correctional Center, Bledsoe County Schools, Lifeline Foods
Outdoor recreation opportunities: Fall Creek Falls offers an inn and restaurant, campsites, cabins, group lodges, an 18-hole golf course, horseback riding, a fishing lake, a nature center and miles of hiking trails.
Famous residents: Tennessee Gov. James B. Frazier Sr. (1903 and 1905); Union Gen. James Gallant Spears; Alaska state Rep. Ramona Wheeler Barnes, longest-serving woman legislator in Alaskan history and first female speaker of the House; fiddle player Benny Williams, who teamed with Marty Robbins, Flatt and Scruggs and others in the 1950s; Robert “Bob” McKinley Douglas, a national champion fiddler
Looking back: Bledsoe County was named for Revolutionary War hero Anthony Bledsoe. The county was established in 1807 from part of Roane County. The Bledsoe County Jail was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.
Looking ahead: The city of Pikeville is looking to bring more jobs to the county with the purchase of an automotive manufacturing property. The area also is focusing on tourism. With the new justice center completed in 2009, construction will begin on the Bledsoe County Correctional Facility in March, bringing construction jobs and later adding 250 employees above its current 300 employees.
Tourism contact: Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 205 Pikeville, TN 37367. Telephone: 423-447-7397, or visit www.pikeville-bledsoe.com.
“The people are kind and friendly. Our economy seems to be doing better than in other places you hear about. The scenery is beautiful from the fall colors and in spring. It’s just home.”
— Debbie Montgomery, receptionist in the county mayor’s office
County seat: Cleveland
Other major towns: Charleston
Population: 95,400 (91.7 percent white, 4.2 percent black, 0.5 percent American Indian, 0.8 percent Asian, 3.1 percent Hispanic)
Median household income: $40,325
Geographic features: Bradley lies in the Tennessee Valley with the county’s northern border on the Hiwassee River and its southern edge at the Georgia line.
Outdoor recreation: Mountain biking and hiking in the Cherokee National Forest, picnics, hikes and Cherokee history at Red Clay State Historic Park
Top employers: Whirlpool Corp., Peyton’s Southeastern, Mars Snackfood U.S. LLC, Cleveland Chair Co., Duracell Global, Schering-Plough
Points of interest: Museum Center at Five Points, Apple Valley Orchards, Red Clay State Historic Park, Tri-State Exhibition Center
Famous residents: Gospel pianist Anthony Burger; actor John Dye; guitarist Doyle Dykes; author Bill Breuer; World War II Medal of Honor winner Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Huff; UT/UTC philanthropist Brenda Lawson; business leader Allan Jones; former Sears CEO Allen Lacy; former Coke CEO Summerfield Johnston; LifeCare Centers of America’s Forrest Preston; Pioneer Credit’s Johnny Holder; baseball scout Lou Fitzgerald; college football coaches Rex Dockery and Steve Sloan.
Looking back: Part of the former Cherokee Nation, Bradley was created by the Tennessee General Assembly in 1836 and named for Revolutionary War and War of 1812 veteran Edward Bradley. Cleveland was named for Col. Benjamin Cleveland of Revolutionary War fame. Both Union and Confederate troops occupied the area in the Civil War.
Looking ahead: In 2010, school construction includes a science wing at Cleveland High School, a new Park View Elementary School on Minnis Road, completion of renovation work at Valley View Elementary School; the beginning of construction for a fine arts building at Bradley Central High School. Planning continues for an interchange on APD 40 near Interstate 75 for residential and commercial development.
Tourism contact: Melissa Woody, Convention and Visitors Bureau, Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, 423-472-6587, ext. 108, or www.visitclevelandtn.com.
“What I like best about Cumberland County is the warm, small-town feel. It’s got the best of everything.”
— Karen Anderson, a resident for 10 years.
County seat: Crossville
Other major towns: Crab Orchard, Pleasant Hill
Population: 53,590 (98 percent white, 0.5 percent black, 0.3 percent American Indian, 0.4 percent Asian, 1.7 percent Hispanic)
Median household income: $34,061
Time zone: Mostly Central, with one section in the county’s extreme east on Eastern time.
Geographic features: Located atop the Cumberland Plateau with an average elevation of 1,980 feet, Cumberland County is between three major Tennessee cities. The county is about 75 miles from Chattanooga and Knoxville and 120 miles from Nashville. Cumberland is Tennessee’s fourth-largest county at 687 square miles. The plateau that shares the county’s name is full of ridges and hollows and is the world’s longest hardwood-forested plateau.
Points of interest: Autumn Acres Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch; Big South Fork Opry; Crossville Raceway dirt track; Cumberland County Playhouse; Homesteads Tower Museum; Military Memorial Museum; Pioneer Hall.
Outdoor recreation: Cumberland Mountain State Park; Lake Tansi community resort; Wildwood Stables; Cumberland Trail; Obed River Arboretum and Park; and 11 golf courses in Crossville, known as the Golf Capital of Tennessee.
Annual events: Pioneer Day, Oktoberfest, Depot Days Main Street Festival; Homestead Apple Festival, Craft Fair on the Plateau, Independence Day Children’s Parade, Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Reunion.
Top employers: Flowers Bakery, CoLinx, FICOSA North America, Aviagen North America.
Notable residents: Actress Marjorie Weaver; Basketball Hall of Famer Earl Lloyd; World War I Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Milo Lemert; author Michael Sims.
Looking back: Cumberland Plateau’s rocky, infertile soil never encouraged many settlers to stay long, but artifacts suggest Mississippi and Cherokee hunters camped in the area for thousands of years. The county was organized in 1855.
Looking ahead: The county has received $10,000 in grant money to build a new tourism Web site. County commissioners have approved new growth plans for Crossville and Cumberland County. Crossville hopes to build a new fire station at Holiday Drive and Sparta Highway.
Tourism contact: Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce, 931-484-8444 or www.crossville-chamber.com.
“What I like best about Franklin County is the friendly people and the beautiful mountains and lakes.”
— Margaret Hall, resident for 44 years
County seat: Winchester
Other major towns: Cowan, Decherd, Estill Springs, Huntland, Sewanee
Population: 41,165 (92.5 percent white, 5.5 percent black, 0.2 percent American Indian, 0.6 percent Asian, 2.1 percent Hispanic)
Median household income: $38,407
Outdoor recreation opportunities: Tims Ford State Park, golf courses at Arnold Engineering Development Center and Bear Trace, hiking, swimming, caving and rock climbing.
Geographic features: Situated in south central Tennessee, bordered by Lincoln, Moore, Coffee, Grundy and Marion counties. Elevation: 979 feet. Highways: I-24. State highways 15, 16, 50, 56, 64, 97, 121
Points of interest: Arnold Engineering Development Center, Old Jail Museum, Falls Mill, Tims Ford State Park, Cowan Railroad Museum, Hundred Oaks Castle, Walls of Jericho.
Top employers: Nissan, Hi-Tech Mold & Engineering, Baxter Enterprises, ATA Aerospace Testing Alliance
Famous residents: David Crockett, likely the most famous early settler; four Tennessee governors: Isham G. Harris, Albert S. Marks, Peter Turney and Henry H. Horton; former UT football player and head coach Phillip Fulmer
Looking back: The first settlers came to what was to become Franklin County about 1800. The county is named in honor of Benjamin Franklin.
Looking ahead: The county received money for several projects through the Recovery Act, including 22 grants in Winchester totaling $7 million and six contracts for the county totaling $1.3 million. David Haskell, a member of the biology faculty at Sewanee: The University of the South, recently was selected as one of the top 300 professors in the United States.
Tourism contact: Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, 44 Chamber Way, Winchester, TN 37398, or 931-967-6788.
“What I like best about Grundy County is the nature — the mountains and the beauty of it all.”
— Patti Layne, resident for seven years
County seat: Altamont
Other major towns: Coalmont, Tracy City, Palmer, Gruetli-Laager
Population: 14,220 (98.1 percent white, 0.6 percent black, 0.3 percent American Indian, 0.2 percent Asian, 1.1 percent Hispanic)
Median household income: $27,034.
Geographic features: 361 square miles on the Cumberland Plateau, bordered by Warren, Coffee, Sequatchie, Marion and Franklin counties. Highways: I-24, state Route 56.
Points of interest: The Marugg Co. in Tracy City is the only European scythe-maker in the United States. Area events include the Monteagle Arts and Crafts Show and the Beersheba Arts and Crafts show, both held in August, and the Grundy Swiss Historical Society annual festival in July.
Top employers: Grundy County Board of Education, Tullahoma Industries, The Bridge.
Outdoor recreation opportunities: Hiking, camping, fishing, South Cumberland Recreation Area, Grundy Lakes, Greeter Falls and Fiery Gizzard Trail.
Famous residents: 1970s San Francisco 49ers linebacker Frank Nunley; Philip Brooks “Shufflin’ Phil” Douglas, who pitched in two World Series; Georgia E. Patton Washington, born a slave in Pelham in 1864, the first female African-American physician and surgeon in Tennessee.
Looking back: The county was established in 1844 from parts of Coffee and Warren counties. It was named after Felix Grundy, a chief justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court and later a Tennessee congressman.
Looking ahead: Through fundraising and a $50,000 federal grant and loan combination, the Grundy County Historical Society is renovating the First National Bank building in Tracy City, turning it into the society’s Heritage Center with a research library, display hall and assembly hall.
Tourism contact: Grundy County Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 387, Gruetli-Laager, TN 37339, or phone 931-924-5353.
“I love the beautiful mountains, the beautiful river. We’ve just got it all.”
— Debbie Stuart, Marion County Chamber of Commerce
County Seat: Jasper
Other towns: Whitwell, South Pittsburg, Kimball, Powells Crossroads
Population: 28,247 (94.1 percent white, 4.3 percent black, 0.3 percent American Indian, 0.4 percent Asian, 1.0 percent Hispanic)
Median household income: $39,059
Geographic features: 507 square miles, 285 miles of county roads. Elevation: 1,800 feet at Monteagle, 620 feet along Tennessee River. Highways: I-24, U.S. highways 41, 41A, 64, 72
Outdoor recreation opportunities: Hiking, boating, camping. Home of Prentice Cooper State Forest, where the Tennessee Wall offers world-class rock climbing; Foster Falls; the Franklin-Marion State Forest and TVA’s Raccoon Mountain Pumped Storage Project. Nickajack Lake’s Fall Color Cruise, Nickajack Dam, Ketner’s Mill, Marion County Park and Shellmound Recreation Area.
Top employers: Grandview Medical Center, Variform, Walmart, Marion County Board of Education, Lodge Manufacturing Co., Rock-Tenn, Sequatchie Concrete
Points of interest: South Pittsburg, home of the National Cornbread Festival, has several historic sites downtown, where iron manufacturing was the backbone of the local economy. Jasper, the county seat, offers scenic drives and the Jasper Regional History Museum, opened in 2007. Whitwell is home to the Holocaust Museum at Whitwell Middle School and the popular Ketner’s Mill Country Arts Fair.
Famous residents: Western film star Tom Mix; silent-film star Jobyna Ralston; 1940s Detroit Tigers player Carl McNabb; Capt. James Thomas Fitz-Gerald Jr., the second man to break the sound barrier behind Chuck Yeager
Looking back: South Carolina settlers in the early 1800s named the county after Francis Marion, famous during the siege of Charleston in the Revolutionary War. The county occupies about 500 square miles of the Sequatchie Valley and is rich in natural resources that attracted coal, limestone and iron industries.
Looking ahead: A site has been selected for a Chattanooga State Community College satellite campus in the Kimball area that could offer job skills training for Chicago Bridge and Iron, coming to the New Hope area, as well as potential Bellefonte Nuclear Plant and Volkswagen employees. A two-year planning effort concluded in January toward developing a greenway from South Pittsburg through Kimball to Jasper.
Tourism contact: Marion County Chamber of Commerce, 302 Betsy Pack Drive Jasper, TN 37347, or phone 423-942-5103.
“What I like best about McMinn County is the people. They are wonderful, compassionate. We are far enough between Chattanooga and Knoxville that everyone has their own identity. They are very proud of their home community.”
— County Mayor John Gentry
County seat: Athens
Other towns: Calhoun, Etowah
Population: 52,511 (92.7 percent white, 4.5 percent black, 0.3 percent American Indian and Alaska Native, 0.7 percent Asian, 0.1 percent Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander)
Median household income: $36,934
Geographic features: 430 square miles; borders the Hiwassee River; modern airport; two major railroad lines.
Points of interest: Etowah Railroad Depot; Tennessee Wesleyan College; McMinn County Living Heritage Museum; Gem Theater in Etowah; Mayfield Dairy Farms visitors center; Swift Aircraft Museum; Midway Drive-In Theater
Top employers: Mayfield Dairy Farms, Abitibi Bowater, Johnson Controls, J.M. Huber Corp., Denso Manufacturing, Heil Co., Johns Manville, Texas Hydraulics
Famous residents: Channel One News founder Chris Whittle, former major league outfielder Tom Saffell, PGA golfer Eric Axley
Looking back: McMinn celebrated its 190th anniversary in 2009. In 1946, returning veterans ousted a corrupt administration in what became known as the Battle of Athens. One of the area’s biggest employers, Bowater, arrived in 1951. President Reagan visited Athens in 1985.
Looking ahead: Plans call for a new ambulance station at the north end of the county. The first phase of widening Highway 30 between Athens and Etowah, 3.6 miles. A veterans clinic is scheduled to open this summer. The county still is looking for a way to expand jail and court space and relieve security concerns at the courthouse.
Tourism contact: Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, 423-745-0334, www.athenschamber.org; Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association, 423-263-7232, www.tennesseeoverhill.com.
“What I like best about Meigs County is the wonderful, warm people. It is a great place to live and work.”
— Carolyn Blair, resident
County seat: Decatur
Other towns: Georgetown, Ten Mile, Fairview
Population: 11,086 (97 percent white, 2.0 percent black, 0.2 percent American Indian, 0.2 percent Asian, 1.1 percent Hispanic)
Median household income: $36,876
Geographic features: Lies in the Tennessee Valley with rolling hills and ridges on the east side, Tennessee River on the west side, Hiwassee River on the south.
Points of interest: Tennessee River, Cherokee Memorial Park, Meigs Historical Museum, historic courthouse
Top employers: Shaw Industries, Solomon Corp., Tennessee River Implement, Cymer Corp., Marine Industries
Outdoor recreation opportunities: Fishing, boating in Hiwassee and Tennessee rivers; Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge; Cherokee Park, Fooshee Walking Trail
Famous residents: W.A. Shadow and Worth Lillard, founders of Volunteer Energy Corp.; 1950s state lawmaker Mary Shadow; Ware Culvahouse, world-renowned gynecologist; his brother, A.B. Culvahouse Jr., attorney who was chief of staff for Ronald Reagan and on vice presidential selection team for John McCain
Looking back: Meigs County was formed in 1936 from part of Rhea County and was named for Col. Return Jonathan Meigs, a Revolutionary War figure who headed the Cherokee Agency from 1801 to 1823. Meigs County has been primarily agricultural with some industry in Decatur. The county is a major Trail of Tears site, and many native Meigs residents trace their heritage to the Cherokee.
Looking ahead: Two community centers, Ten Mile and East View, are under construction and will be completed in April. The county’s Emergency Operations Center is being doubled in size. The county will begin a housing rehab project with a $500,000 grant received from the Tennessee Housing Authority.
Tourism contact: Meigs County-Decatur Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 1301, Decatur, TN 37322. Phone 423-334-5496 or visit www.meigscountytnchamber.org/tourism
“What I like about Monroe County is the mountains and rural community.”
— Sandy Murdock,resident for 25 years
County Seat: Madisonville
Other major towns: Madisonville, Sweetwater, Tellico Plains
Population: 45,648 (95.4 percent white, 2.4 percent black, 0.3 percent American Indian, 0.6 percent Asian, 2.9 percent Hispanic)
Median household income: $36,614
Geographical features: Rolling plains and farmland from the west merging with mountains to the east. The highest roadway in Tennessee borders the county. Mountain streams and rivers have populations of trout.
Points of Interest: Lost Sea Caverns, Charles Hall Museum, Pheasant Fields trout farm, Sweetwater Heritage Museum, Sweetwater Valley Farm, Cherohala Skyway, Bald River Falls and Tellico River, 189 miles of hiking and biking trails, numerous campgrounds, Coker Creek gold panning.
Top employers: Mastercraft Boat, Carlex Glass Co., SeaRay Boat, Gemtron Corp.
Famous residents: Meteorologist Isaac Cline; Sue K. Hicks, Scopes Trial attorney and influence for Shel Silverstein’s song “A Boy Named Sue”; U.S. Rep. and vice presidential candidate Estes Kefauver; baseball outfielder Tod Sloan.
Looking back: Before European settlement, the Cherokee town of Great Tellico, now Tellico Plains, was one of the more important towns of the Overhill Cherokee. Two important roads met at Great Tellico, the Trading Path and the Warrior Path. Fort Loudoun was built in 1756 as a garrison but was overrun by the Cherokee in 1760 and not used again. Monroe County was founded in 1820.
Looking ahead: Monroe County is now home to a biofuel pilot plant in Vonore, where technology developed by Genera Energy and DuPont Danisco will be tested and refined. One of the county’s largest events of the year is the annual Autumn Gold Festival Oct. 9-10.
Tourism contact: Monroe County Department of Tourism, 105 College St., Suite 6, Madisonville, TN 37354, or www.monroecounty.com.
“I think this is the most beautiful part of the state; the abundant rivers, outdoor recreation and our mountains. Of course, I am very partial.”
— Mike Stinnett,county mayor
County seat: Benton
Major towns: Copperhill, Ducktown, Delano, Farner, Ocoee, Oldfort, Reliance, Turtletown
Population: 15,671 (98.3 percent white, 0.1 percent black, 0.3 percent American Indian, 0.1 percent Asian, 0.7 percent Hispanic)
Median household income: $34,660
Geographic features: 442 square miles, including 7 square miles of water. Includes Ocoee and Hiwassee rivers; Bean, Big Frog and other mountains are part of the Southern Appalachian foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Occupies southeast corner of Tennessee and borders North Carolina and Georgia.
Points of interest: Cherokee National Forest, Ocoee Whitewater Center, Hiwassee River Rail Adventure, Ducktown Mining Museum
Outdoor recreation: Camping, cabins, hiking, biking, gliderport, whitewater rafting, scenic drives.
Top employers: Crystal Geyser Corp., Angio Systems, whitewater rafting companies, U.S. Forest Service
Looking back: The county was named for then-Gov. James K. Polk, who later became U.S. president. Copper was discovered in the mid-1800s, and mines operated until late in the 20th century. The county has transitioned from mining, agriculture and forestry to some manufacturing and a strong tourism industry based around outdoor recreation.
Looking ahead: Rock slide removal on U.S. 64 expected to be completed in March. Grading and paving of U.S. 64 east of U.S. 411 to west of the Ocoee River is estimated to be completed in September. Expanding U.S. 411 through Benton continues until October 2011.
Tourism contact: Polk County Chamber of Commerce, 877-790-2157 or www.ocoeecountry.com.
“What I like best about Rhea County is that it is such a close-knit community. You can be friends with so many people. Watts Bar Lake drew my husband and me to Spring City 28 years ago, and the wonderful people keep us here now.”
— Stephanie Rocker, resident
County seat: Dayton
Other major towns: Spring City, Graysville
Population: 30,328 (95.7 percent white, 2.4 percent black, 0.4 percent American Indian, 0.3 percent Asian, 2.8 percent Hispanic)
Median household income: $37,682
Geographic features: Rhea County is bounded by Walden’s Ridge, Watts Bar Lake and Chickamauga Lake. Its main highway is U.S. Highway 27.
Points of interest: Rhea County Courthouse, home of the Scopes Trial in 1925
Top industries: Tennessee Valley Authority, General Shale Brick Co., La-Z-Boy, Suburban Manufacturing Co., Robinson Manufacturing Co.
Outdoor recreation opportunities: Laurel Snow Pocket Wilderness, Piney River, Watts Bar Lake. Rhea County has four natural wilderness areas with forests, deep gorges, unique rock formations and tumbling waterfalls.
Looking back: Home of the famous Scopes Trial, where the teaching of evolution in classrooms was debated.
Looking ahead: The county’s large manufacturing base is holding its own now with indications for growth in the number of employees in the county’s existing industries. Beautification, retail development and tourism are always top priorities for Rhea County.
Tourism information: Rhea Economic and Tourism Council, 423-775-6171, www.rheacountyetc.com
“What I like best about living in Sequatchie County is that it is a small town where everyone is so nice and friendly and it’s just a beautiful valley.”
— Misty Smith,lifelong resident
County seat: Dunlap
Other communities: Cagle, Fredonia, Lone Oak
Population: 13,580 (97.9 percent white, 0.9 percent black, 0.3 percent American Indian, 0.4 percent Asian, 1.4 percent Hispanic)
Median household income: $38,683
Geographic features: Bordered by Bledsoe, Hamilton, Marion, Grundy and Van Buren counties and positioned in the middle of the 125-mile-long Sequatchie Valley, the county includes farms, forests, mountains and the Sequatchie and Little Sequatchie rivers. Highways include U.S. 127, state Highway 28 and state Route 111.
Top employers: Sequatchie County Board of Education, Dunlap Industries, Precision DOT Aero Inc., NHC Healthcare
Outdoor recreation opportunities: Canoe the Sequatchie, two Tennessee Tree Toppers hang gliding launch sites on Lewis Chapel Mountain, hiking, camping, fishing
Famous residents: Singer-songwriter Cody McCarver; U.S. Army Sgt. Raymond H. Cooley, World War II Medal of Honor recipient; Tennessee House and Senate member and speaker Josiah McNair Anderson
Looking back: Sequatchie County was formed in the late 1800s as a coal mining area. The name comes from a Cherokee chief, Sequachee, which historians believe means “opossum, he grins or runs.” The remains of the original beehive coke ovens are at the Coke Ovens Park in Dunlap, which also is known as the hang gliding capital of the Eastern United States.
Looking ahead: Attracting a new industry to an existing industrial park building is on the forefront for Dunlap in 2010. There will be water line extensions on the north and south ends of East Valley Road. Several local residents are also working to try to save the golf course in the area and looking for individual investors.
Tourism contact: www.sequatchie.com/tourist.htm