75 Facts About Tennessee

In 1796, Tennessee became the 16th state in the United States, surrounded by eight present-day states and the Mississippi River. It’s also the 36th largest and the 16th most populous of the 50 States. In its early days, the region took an active role in the abolition of slavery, and it was here that civil rights leader Martin Luther King was fatally shot. Keep on reading to learn 75 facts about Tennessee. 

Fact 1: Tennessee is located in the South Eastern Region of the United States of America. 

Fact 2: Tennessee has a land area of 109,147 km². That makes it the 36th largest state in the United States of America by area.

Fact 3: Tennessee’s nickname is “The Volunteer State.” It got this nickname from its time during the American Civil War when Tennessee provided the most volunteers to participate in the war.

Fact 4: Nashville is Tennessee’s capital.

Fact 5: Tennessee was admitted to the union that went on to become the United States of America on June 1, 1796. It was the 16th state to enter the union.

Fact 6: With a population of 652,236 Memphis is Tennessee’s second largest city, and the United States’ 26th largest city.

Fact 7: Tennessee currently has an estimated total population of 6,833,793 people. That makes it the 16th largest state in the United States.

Fact 8: James Glenn, a governor of South Carolina, is attributed for creating the modern spelling of Tennessee. It is thought that he used the modern spelling for the first time during correspondence with other governors in the 1750s.

Fact 9: Much of the state of Tennessee was conflicted at the outbreak of the American Civil War with men in the state believing that slavery should be abolished while many others believed slavery should be allowed. This was mirrored in their reluctance to choose sides in the American Civil War. At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Tennessee was the very last state to pick a side eventually joining the Confederacy. After being occupied by union forces in the year 1862, Tennessee quickly asked for readmittance back into the union, and was the first state to be readmitted.

Fact 10: Tennessee is generally split into three grand divisions. This is usually seen as East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee and West Tennessee. 

Fact 11: On December 30, 1917, thermometers recorded the lowest ever temperature in Tennessee. It was an extremely chilly -36°C at Mountain City, Johnson County.

Fact 12: The first ever female United States Senator, Hattie Caraway, was born in Bakersville, Tennessee.

Fact 13: Only 2.2% of Tennessee’s total area is covered in water. That means water covers only 2401 km² of the state.

Fact 14: Tennessee is considered the home of the mini golf course. One of the first ever mini course was built in the town of Chattanooga in 1927. It was built by a hotel on Lookout Mountain as a tourist attraction.

Fact 15: On average there are over 50 days of thunderstorms every year in the state of Tennessee. These often bring ferocious winds, tornadoes, and huge thunder clouds that rain hailstones the size of golf balls pour down on the towns below.

Fact 16: Mining, farming, uranium products, and music make up Tennessee’s major industries.

Fact 17: Tennessee provided more solders for the confederate army than every other state combined, except for Virginia, who provided slightly more than Tennessee. 

Fact 18: Tennessee has had multiple state capitals in the past including the cities of Kingston, Murfreesboro, and Knoxville.

Fact 19: 12,000 years ago, the area now known as Tennessee was inhabited by a Palio-Indian culture. This culture continued to live in the Tennessee area for the next 12,000 years only to be driven out of the state when Europeans came to the Americas. 

Fact 20: The state of Tennessee has a population density of 61.5 people per square kilometre. That makes it the 20th most dense state in the United States based on population density.

Fact 21: Slavery was made illegal in Tennessee on February 22, 1865.

Fact 22: On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated while staying in the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, by James Earl Ray. 

Fact 23: Three Spanish explorers were the first Europeans to explore what is now the state of Tennessee. Hernando De Soto first visited in 1540, then Tristan de Luna followed him 19 years later in 1559. Finally, Juan Pardo visited the area 8 years after Tristan in 1567.

Fact 24: On October 7, 1916, one of the largest losses in American football history took place between the sides of Cumberland University and Georgia Tech. Cumberland University destroyed Georgia Tech 222 points to 0.

Fact 25: The average household income of a person living in Tennessee is $52,340 per year. This makes Tennessee the 42nd richest state on average income per household out of all the States in America. For comparison sake, the district of Columbia has the highest average household income of $82,604 per year.

Fact 26: In 1756, British settlers colonised the first British colony in what is now Tennessee. 

Fact 27: On average, the state has 15 tornadoes per year.Tornadoes in Tennessee can be severe, and Tennessee has the highest percentage of tornadoes that lead to fatalities in the USA. 

Fact 28: There are over 22,770 km of roads in Tennessee. For comparison sake the USA as a whole has over 6.5 million kilometres of road paving the country. So Tennessee makes up a tiny proportion, less than 1%, of all the roads in the United States

Fact 29: In 1996, Tennessee celebrated its bicentennial birthday with a year long celebration called Tennessee 200. Part of the celebration included opening a new 19-acre public park called Bicentennial Mall near Capitol Hill in the capital city of Nashville.

Fact 30: With an area of only 295 km², Trousdale County is Tennessee’s smallest county.

Fact 31: From a pure dimensions point of view, Tennessee is a much longer state than it is wide. Its length is 710 km yet its width is only 195 km. This makes the state 3 1/2 times longer than it is wide.

Fact 32: Tennessee is home to the worlds largest artificial ski centre. The 5 acre artificial ski surface can be found in the town of Gatlinburg.

Fact 33: Tennessee is home to the most caves in the United States. There are over ten thousand caves documented in the state. However, only 1/3 of them have been explored! 

Fact 34: Tennessee is home, unfortunately, to two of the worst accidents in US history. The first is the great train wreck of 1918 where a head on collision between two trains killed 101 people. The second is the explosion of the steamboat Sultan on the Mississippi River. The ship was destroyed when three of its steam boilers suddenly exploded tearing the ship almost in half. It’s the deadliest maritime disaster in US history claiming over 1100 lives. 

Fact 35: Tennessee has more state boundaries than any other state apart from Missouri. Both Tennessee and Missouri have boundaries with eight other states.

Fact 36: On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the final state out of 36 to give women the right to vote. 

Fact 37: Highest elevation in the state of Tennessee is Clingmans Dome, a 2025 m tall mountain that straddles the state boundary between Tennessee and North Carolina. The mountain can be found in Sevier County in Tennessee, and Swain County in North Carolina.

Fact 38: 94.6% of all people in Tennessee speak English as their first language. Of the remaining 5.4%, 3.9% speak Spanish as their first language, and the reminding 1.5% speak a plethora of languages ranging from Italian to Polish. 

Fact 39: The City of Oak Ridge, in Anderson and Roane Counties, is home to the facilities that provided Uranium for the USA’s Manhattan Project. The Uranium was used to build the two nuclear bombs that were dropped on Japan in World War II

Fact 40: In 1796, with only a population of 77,000 people, Tennessee became a state. 

Fact 41: The lowest elevation in the entire state is on the Mississippi border alongside the Mississippi River. The elevation drops to only 54 m above sea level at this point.

Fact 42: In the early 1910s and 1920s, Tennessee transitioned from a largely farming economy to an industrial economy with help of federal investment. This drastically improved the quality of life across the state.

Fact 43: Tennessee is home to 95 counties. For comparison, there are currently 3,143 counties or county equivalents, in the USA. 

Fact 44: Tennessee has it own tartan just like families do in Scotland. The Tartan is called Tennessee State Tartan.   

Fact 45: Tennessee is home to the second-largest non-glacial underwater lake in the world, according to Guinness World Records. It is called the Lost Sea in Sweetwater. The lake is 240 m long and 67 m wide, and its depths have never been fully explored. 

Fact 46: There is over 7000 km of railroad track in Tennessee.

Fact 47: Tennessee is bordered by eight states. They are:

  • Kentucky to the north 
  • Virginia to the northeast, 
  • North Carolina to the east, 
  • Georgia to the south
  • Alabama to the south
  • Mississippi to the south
  • Arkansas to the west
  • Missouri to the northwest

Fact 48: Many music lovers consider Bristol, Sullivan County, in Tennessee as the Birthplace of Country & Western Music.

Fact 49: The largest lake in Tennessee is Kentucky Lake which is a large navigable reservoir. The reservoir was created in 1944 and is dammed by the Kentucky dam. The total area of the lake is 649 km².

Fact 50: The longest running radio show in the world is the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. Since 1925, it’s been broadcast every Friday and Saturday night.

Fact 51: Tennessee’s motto is “Agriculture and Commerce”. 

Fact 52: Shelby County is both Tennessee’s most populated county, with 927,644 residents, and the largest county in area, covering an area of 1,955 km2. 

Fact 53: The Tennessee aquarium is the largest freshwater aquarium in the world. It’s packed full of animal life with over 700 creatures swimming, flying, and slithering around.

Fact 54: Tennessee doesn’t have one anthem. It actually has nine. They are: 

  • “My Homeland, Tennessee”, by Nell Grayson Taylor (words) and Roy Lamont Smith (music)
  • “Tennessee Waltz”, by Redd Stewart and Pee Wee King,
  • “Smoky Mountain Rain”, a song written by Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan
  • “When It’s Iris Time in Tennessee”, by Willa Waid Newman
  • “My Tennessee”, by Frances Hannah Tranum
  • “The Pride of Tennessee”, by Fred Congdon, Thomas Vaughn and Carol Elliot
  • “Rocky Top”, by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant
  • “Tennessee”, by Vivian Rorie
  • “Tennessee”, written by John R. Bean of Knoxville

Fact 55: Tennessee is home to over 54 state parks that, in total, cover an area of 530 km².

Fact 56: There are 346 towns and Cities in the state of Tennessee. The USA has a total of 19,494 towns and cities located throughout the country. 

Fact 57: Nashville is not just Tennessee’s capital. It’s also Tennessee’s largest city with a population of 675,000 people which makes it the 24th largest city in the United States.

Fact 58: The smallest county in the state of Tennessee is Pickett County. It has a population of only 4,945 people.  

Fact 59: The City of Murfreesboro lies at the exact geographical centre of the state.

Fact 60: A number of animals and plants are used as the insignia for the state. These include the Tennessee cave salamander, the Mockingbird, The Bobwhite Quail bird, the Zebra swallowtail butterfly, the channel catfish, and the smallmouth bass fish. 

Fact 61: A replica of the famous ancient Greek building, The Parthenon, stands in Nashville’s Centennial Park.

Fact 62: The new Madrid earthquakes of 1811 and 1812 created a new lake called the Reelfoot lake. This lake did not exist before these earthquakes. Before the Earthquakes, the area was lush forest. Now the remains of rotten petrified tree stumps stand proud on the surface of the water as a reminder of the area’s past.

Fact 63: 81% of all people in Tennessee consider themselves part of the Christian religion.  

Fact 64: The element tennessine was named after the state after its discovery in 2016. 

Fact 65: The Copper Basin is an area of Tennessee that was so badly affected by poor mining practice and pollution that a circular dead zone, where no plant life grows, is large enough to be seen by astronauts in orbit!  

Fact 66: Agriculture, Tourism, and Manufacturing are the largest industrys in Tennessee. Major manufacturing products include transportation equipment such as cars, electrical goods, and a number of chemicals. Tennessee’s major agricultural products are cattle, chickens, and soybeans. 

Fact 67: Tennessee’s GDP equivalent, or real state product, is $233.997 billion. That accounts for just 1/88th of The USA’s 20.5 trillion dollar economy. 

Fact 68: Nearly every single county in Tennessee has a humid subtropical climate. The only exceptions are temperate and humid continental climates high in the Appalachian Mountains. 

Fact 69: The highest temperature ever recorded in the state was in the town of Perryville on August the 9th 1930. The temperature measured was a tar melting 45 °C.

Fact 70: Tennessee Flag is red with a blue stripe down the right hand side and a blue circle enveloping three white stars.   

Fact 71: You’d think the USAs most visited national park would be Yellowstone, or the Rockys. But you’d be wrong. The Great Smokey Mountain National Park in Tennessee is actually the most visited national park in the US.   

Fact 72: A number of inanimate object are used by local Tennesseans to represent their state. They are Milk, the Square dance, Tomato, the mineral Agate, and the Tennessee River pearl, just to name a few.  

Fact 73: Tennessee is home to the logistical giant FedEx. FedEx’s headquarters is in Memphis. 

Fact 74: The name Tennessee is thought to have originated from an American Indian village called “Tanasqui”. 

Fact 75: Over 100 million people visited the state in 2014 resulting in $17.7 billion of tourism-related income.


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