Hamilton County, Tennessee
|Hamilton County, Tennessee|
Hamilton County Courthouse in Chattanooga
Location in the state of Tennessee
Tennessee's location in the U.S.
|Founded||October 25, 1819|
|Named for||Alexander Hamilton|
576 sq mi (1,492 km²)
542 sq mi (1,404 km²)
33 sq mi (85 km²), 5.78%
567/sq mi (219/km²)
|Time zone||Eastern: UTC-5/-4|
Hamilton County is a county located in the U.S. state of Tennessee. It was named for Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury. As of the 2010 census, the population was 336,463. Its county seat is Chattanooga.
Hamilton County is part of the Chattanooga, TN-GA Metropolitan Statistical Area.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 576 square miles (1,491.8 km2), of which 542 square miles (1,403.8 km2) is land and 33 square miles (85.5 km2) (5.78%) is water. Hamilton County is one of the few counties in the United States to border 10 other counties.
Adjacent counties 
- Bledsoe County, Tennessee - north
- Rhea County, Tennessee - northeast
- Meigs County, Tennessee - northeast
- Bradley County, Tennessee - east
- Whitfield County, Georgia - southeast
- Catoosa County, Georgia - south
- Walker County, Georgia - south
- Dade County, Georgia - southwest
- Marion County, Tennessee - west
- Sequatchie County, Tennessee - northwest
National protected area 
Natural Areas of Interest
Raccoon Mountain Caverns is a show cave located 8 miles northwest of downtown Chattanooga. It was originally explored in 1929 by Leo Lambert who developed trails and installed lights and opened the cave to the public on June 28, 1931. The cave was opened under the name Tennessee Caverns. The operators of the cave claim that its explored length is over 5.5 miles.
The Crystal Caverns Cave Spider, Nesticus furtivus, is only known from this one cave. Cave guides will occasionally spot one of these rare spiders and point it out to the tourists. (See: "Caves of Chattanooga" by Larry E. Matthews, published by the National Speleological Society, 2007, ISBN 978-1-879961-27-2, Chapter 4 - Raccoon Mountain Caverns, pages 65–84.)
Ruby Falls Cave is a show cave located on the side of Lookout Mountain in downtown Chattanooga. It was discovered by accident on December 28, 1928 when it was intersected by an elevator shaft that was being drilled to develop Lookout Mountain Cave as a commercial cave. Ruby Falls Cave was intersected at a depth of 260 from the surface and Lookout Mountain Cave was reached later at a depth of 420 feet below the surface. The entire project was the work of cave developer Leo Lambert. He named the new cave's waterfall after his wife Ruby, hence the name Ruby Falls. The lower cave, Lookout Mountain Cave, opened to the public on December 30, 1929. Ruby Falls opened to the public on June 16, 1930. Ruby Falls Cave, with its spectacular waterfall proved the more popular of the two caves and it is the only one open to the public at the present time. (See: "Caves of Chattanooga", Chapter 1 - Lookout Mountain Cave, pages 13–30 and Chapter 3 - Ruby Falls Cave, pages 49–64).
Major Roads 
Some major roads in Hamilton County include the following: Interstate 24, Interstate 75, Highway 11 (Lee Highway/Brainerd Road), Highway 27, Highway 41, Highway 58, Highway 64, Highway 72, Highway 74, Highway 76, Highway 127, Highway 153, and Hixson Pike.
Hamilton County was formed on October 25, 1819 from portions of Rhea County and Indian land. It was named after Alexander Hamilton, an officer in the American Revolutionary War, member of the Continental Congress, the first US Secretary of Treasury, and one of the founding fathers of the United States.
Hamilton County was the site of an important saltpeter mine during the Civil War. Saltpeter is the main ingredient of gunpowder and was obtained by leaching the earth from caves. Lookout Mountain Cave was a major source of saltpeter during the Civil War. The mine was operated by Robert Cravens, who owned the property where the cave is located. In May 1861, Cravens contracted with the Tennessee Military and Financial Board to deliver 20,000 pounds of saltpeter. On the 24th of the same month, he reported that he had ten hoppers already set up in his cave. Cravens was also mining Nickajack Cave in nearby Marion County. In 1862 he quit mining at Lookout Mountain Cave and rented the cave to the Confederate Nitre Bureau, which mined the cave from June 1862 through July 1863. Mining ceased when Chattanooga was occupied by Federal forces in 1863.
In 1919 James County, Tennessee went bankrupt and became a part of Hamilton County in April 1919. James County had been established by the Tennessee General Assembly in January 1871 and was named after Reverend Jesse J. James.
Serpent handling 
The sheriff of Hamilton County, Thomas Grady Head, enforced the Tennessee law forbidding serpent handling, arresting a Pentecostal religious group of snake handlers in 1945 and received national attention for doing so. Head did not always enforce the law, as when he did the atmosphere became hostile. Crowds would form to witness the snake handlers.
Hamilton County is well known for being the location where Tom Harden and eleven other members of his snake handling religious congregation were arrested in 1947, ten of them were convicted of violating a Tennessee law forbidding the handling of snakes.
As recently as 2011, three arrests were made in Chattanooga for "possessing, housing and transporting snakes", a violation of wildlife codes. These were related to the death of a man by snake bite. Ralph Hood, a professor of social psychology and the psychology of religion at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga says that religious snake handling continues in Appalachia, but is much diminished.
As of the census of 2000, there were 307,896 people, 124,444 households, and 83,750 families residing in the county. The population density was 568 people per square mile (219/km²). There were 134,692 housing units at an average density of 248 per square mile (96/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 76.32% White, 20.14% Black or African American, 0.29% Native American, 1.27% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.77% from other races, and 1.14% from two or more races. 1.78% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 124,444 households out of which 28.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.20% were married couples living together, 13.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.70% were non-families. 27.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.95.
In the county, the population was spread out with 23.20% under the age of 18, 9.60% from 18 to 24, 29.00% from 25 to 44, 24.30% from 45 to 64, and 13.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 91.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.10 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $38,930, and the median income for a family was $48,037. Males had a median income of $35,413 versus $24,505 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,593. About 9.20% of families and 12.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.80% of those under age 18 and 11.20% of those age 65 or over.
Politics, government, and law 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (December 2007)|
Hamilton County, while experiencing problems managing their rising jail cost and population, sought help from the state. Former Tennessee governor Lamar Alexander referred the county to a new concept of private prisons. In 1985 the County Commissioner voted to accept Corrections Corporation of America's bid to operate and manage the Silverdale Detention Center. In 2005, after several years of problems the county voted to extend the contract.
Politically, Hamilton County is conservative but it has been showing a slight trend leftward. In 2004 Republican George Bush defeated Democrat John Kerry 57% to 41%. In 2008 Republican John McCain defeated Democrat Barack Obama by a slightly smaller margin of 55% to 43%.
In February 2008, Sheriff Billy Long was arrested; he resigned four days later. In November 2008 he was sentenced to 14 years on charges of extortion and money laundering, in addition to offenses involving weapons and drugs. Jim Hammond replaced him.
Colleges and universities 
- Chattanooga State Community College - website
- Covenant College - website
- Southern Adventist University - website
- Tennessee Temple University - website
- University of Tennessee at Chattanooga - website
Cities and towns in Hamilton County 
- East Brainerd
- East Ridge
- Falling Water
- Lookout Mountain
- Lupton City
- Middle Valley
- Red Bank
- Sale Creek
- Signal Mountain
See also 
Further reading 
- Armstrong, Zella. The History of Hamilton County and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Savannah: Overmountain Press (1993). ISBN 0-932807-99-2
- United States Census Bureau. "2010 Census Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- Larry E. Matthews, Caves of Chattanooga, 2007, ISBN 978-1-879961-27-2
- "SHERIFF THOMAS G. HEAD 1944-1948". Hamilton County Sheriffs Office, Tennessee. Retrieved March 21, 2011.
- Burton, Thomas G. (1993). Serpent-handling believers. University of Tennessee Press. p. 76. ISBN 0-87049-788-X.
- Poovey (Associated Press), Bill (March 3, 2011). "3 more arrested in Tenn. snake bite death". Times News. Retrieved March 21, 2012.
- Handwork, Brian. "Snake Handlers Hang On in Appalachian Churches". National Geographic. Retrieved March 21, 2012.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Based on 2000 census data
- Hamilton County, TNGenWeb - free genealogy resources for the county
- Hamilton County at the Open Directory Project
||Sequatchie County||Bledsoe County||Rhea County and Meigs County|
|Marion County||Bradley County|
|Dade County, Georgia||Walker County, Georgia and Catoosa County, Georgia||Whitfield County, Georgia|