Dyersburg, Tennessee

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Dyersburg, Tennessee
The old Bank of Dyersburg
The old Bank of Dyersburg
Official seal of Dyersburg, Tennessee
Motto(s): "Dyersburg...the Gateway to Everywhere"[1]
Location of Dyersburg in Dyer County, Tennessee.
Location of Dyersburg in Dyer County, Tennessee.
Coordinates: 36°2′N 89°23′W / 36.033°N 89.383°W / 36.033; -89.383Coordinates: 36°2′N 89°23′W / 36.033°N 89.383°W / 36.033; -89.383
Country United States
State Tennessee
County Dyer
 • Mayor John Holden
 • Total 17.5 sq mi (45.2 km2)
 • Land 17.3 sq mi (44.9 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.3 km2)
Elevation 292 ft (89 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 17,145
 • Estimate (2016)[2] 16,685
 • Density 988/sq mi (381.5/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes 38024-38025
Area code(s) 731
FIPS code 47-22200[3]
GNIS feature ID 1283267[4]
Website www.dyersburgtn.gov

Dyersburg is a city and the county seat of Dyer County, Tennessee, in the United States. It is located in northwest Tennessee, 79 miles (127 km) northeast of Memphis on the Forked Deer River. The population was 17,145 at the 2010 census.[5] Dyersburg is a regional retail, medical, employment and cultural center for more than 300,000 people who live in Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri.


19th century[edit]

The lands that make up Dyer County once belonged to the Chickasaw people. The final treaty by which they relinquished all of West Tennessee was signed in 1818. Dyersburg was a steamboat town with economic growth coming up the Forked Deer River from the Mississippi River.

In 1823[6] the Tennessee General Assembly passed an act to establish two new counties immediately west of the Tennessee River, Dyer County being one of them. John McIver and Joel H. Dyer donated 60 acres (240,000 m2) for the new county seat, named Dyersburg, at a central location within the county known as "McIver's Bluff". In 1825,[6] Dyer surveyed the town site into 86 lots. The first courthouse was built on the square in 1827. The current Classical Revival-style courthouse, designed by Asa Biggs in 1911, centers a downtown historic district listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Situated as the hub of steamboat navigation on the Forked Deer River, Dyersburg grew as a river town, especially once the Grey Eagle made the first successful steamboat trip in 1836. The county's first industrial boom dates to 1879, when the steamboat Alf Stevens shipped timber from A. M. Stevens Lumber Company of Dyersburg to St. Louis, Missouri markets. The Stevens company established a large sawmill in 1880 and opened a planing mill in 1885. The Bank of Dyersburg opened in 1880, while another timber industry, Nichols & Co. Wooden Bowl Factory, began operations in 1881.

The arrival of the Newport News and Mississippi Valley Railroad in 1884 further expanded market possibilities; a branch line, the Dyersburg Northern, soon linked the county seat to Tiptonville. The new railroad links encouraged the creation of new industries and businesses. In 1884, for example, investors established the Dyersburg Oil Company, a cottonseed factory. This company remained locally important through the twentieth century.

20th century[edit]

Between 1909 and 1914, Dyersburg emerged as a regional railroad hub as it became the junction point for three different lines, led by the Illinois Central Railroad.

The Edward Moody King House is on the National Register of Historic Places.

On December 2, 1917, 24-year-old black farmhand Lation (or Ligon) Scott was brutally lynched before a crowd of thousands after an alleged rape. No one was prosecuted for the lynching. Author Margaret Vandiver wrote in "Lethal Punishment: Lynchings and Legal Executions in the South", “The lynching of Lation Scott was the most ghastly of all those I researched.”[7]

During World War II, an emergency landing strip was built in Dyersburg. Industry continued to expand and Dyer County became a regional medical, educational, retail and distribution center. The establishment of Dyersburg State Community College in 1969 enhanced educational and cultural opportunities in the county.

In the last two decades, two major highway projects have modernized the city's transportation system: Interstate 155 links Dyersburg with Caruthersville, Missouri, via the Caruthersville Bridge, the only highway bridge over the Mississippi River between Cairo, Illinois, and Memphis. The four-lane expansion of U.S. 412 connects Dyersburg to Interstate 40 at Jackson.

On March 5, 1963, a Piper Comanche plane carrying country singers Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Cowboy Copas, pilot and Miss Cline's manager Randy Hughes stopped for gas in Dyersburg. The plane crashed just 20 minutes later in inclement weather near Camden, Tennessee.

In 1967 Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger began filming In the Heat of the Night with plans to shoot for three days in Dyersburg. The filming sequence, including the slap scene, needed a location with an actual cotton plantation. The mansion in Dyersburg was chosen to be used as the plantation owner's home. The filmmakers bought furniture and a lawn jockey to make the home appear more aristocratic, along with $15,000 worth of orchids. With tension in the air, actor Poitier slept with a gun under his pillow at the Dyersburg Holiday Inn. When local hooligans created hazardous circumstances in the parking lot of his motel, the film production left Dyersburg immediately and fled to Illinois to complete the filming.[citation needed] The movie earned Oscar nominations.

Dyersburg was mentioned in the lyrics of the song "Tennessee", written and performed by the 1990s hip hop group Arrested Development.

21st century[edit]

On September 17, 2003, Harold Kilpatrick Jr. took 15 people hostage in an upper story classroom at Dyersburg State Community College. Kilpatrick suffered from severe schizophrenia and paranoia and was not on appropriate medications. His only demands into the sixth hour were six pizzas and 24 sodas. After nine hours or more, a shot was heard inside the classroom, prompting the Dyersburg police to forcibly enter the room and open fire, killing Kilpatrick and wounding two students. Hostages from that day described Kilpatrick as being rather friendly, though nervous, and that he had dropped his gun causing an accidental discharge (the shot the police heard).

In May 2011, after flood waters surged into the Mississippi Delta, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shored up levees on "The Great River Road". The U.S. Coast Guard closed a section of the flooded Mississippi River to barge traffic in southeast Missouri. The President of the United States declared a major disaster for Tennessee on May 4, 2011. Dyersburg Mayor John Holden estimated a total of $140,000 in damages occurring within Dyersburg. The worst flooding in Dyer County occurred south of Dyersburg.

In 2012 FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) awarded over 2 million dollars for the construction of area safe rooms. The safe rooms in Dyersburg are located beside Dyersburg High School and across from Fire Station 1 in Downtown.

Under the new ownership of CEO A. G. Helton, the Dyersburg Mall began renovations in January 2013.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam presented a $589,000 workforce development grant to Dyersburg State Community College in September 2013 to establish two advanced manufacturing labs for 2013-2014 including the facility in Covington, Tennessee.

The 2011 McIver's Grant Public Library project was launched, and in 2011 the city of Dyersburg and the members of the Library Board and Foundation Board celebrated the ribbon cutting for the new facility.

Dyersburg residents welcomed the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store in 2011. The unofficial groundbreaking of Love's Travel Stop took place on Highway 76 in 2015. In 2015, ERMCO's proposed solar collection system was met with opposition.

New renovations of Dyersburg High School were completed and the on-campus tornado shelter, which accommodates 1,300 people, has been designed to sustain an F2 tornado. Dyersburg has 19 outdoor emergency sirens.

The Tennessee Aviation Association, a division of the Tennessee Department of Transportation, recognized the Dyersburg Regional Airport with the 2015 Award of Excellence for most improved airport.

The newly completed Port of Cates Landing, located on the Mississippi River north of Tiptonville in Lake County, is the nation's newest multimodal inland port. The port, engineered by Forcum-Lannom of Dyersburg, will accommodate year-round modern barge traffic. The Northwest Tennessee Regional Port Authority received $13 million from the US Department of Transportation.

The city of Dyersburg created a Non-Emergency 311 Call Center to assist residents with local government service requests and general information.


Dyersburg is located in central Dyer County at 36°2′22″N 89°22′58″W / 36.03944°N 89.38278°W / 36.03944; -89.38278 (36.039440, -89.382766).[8] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 17.5 square miles (45.2 km2), of which 17.3 square miles (44.9 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km2), or 0.66%, is water.[5]

The city's proximity to the New Madrid Seismic Zone makes it a place at risk for future earthquakes. The USGS database shows that there is an 18.28% chance of a major earthquake within 31 miles (50 km) of Dyersburg within the next 50 years. The largest earthquake within 30 miles (48 km) of Dyersburg was a 4.6-magnitude event in 1989.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201616,685[2]−2.7%

Dyersburg's population was estimated at 17,002 in 2013. As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 17,452 people, 7,036 households, and 4,517 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,158.7 people per square mile (447.4/km²). There were 7,885 housing units at an average density of 523.5 per square mile (202.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 75.68% White, 22.02% African American, 0.21% Native American, 0.54% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.53% from other races, and 0.99% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.36% of the population.

There were 7,036 households out of which 31.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.4% were married couples living together, 17.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.8% were non-families. 30.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the city, the population was spread out with 26.3% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 27.6% from 25 to 44, 21.4% from 45 to 64, and 15.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.3 males. In 2013 there were 7,989 males and 9,013 Females. The median age: 37.6.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,232, and the median income for a family was $34,754. Males had a median income of $30,898 versus $21,337 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,388. About 17.4% of families and 20.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.5% of those under age 18 and 19.0% of those age 65 or over. Estimated median house value in 2012: $90,509, an increase of $20,000 since 2000.



The Dyersburg State Gazette is a daily broadsheet newspaper published in Dyersburg. The paper has served Dyersburg and Northwest Tennessee since 1865.[10] The newspaper has a circulation of 7,900,[11] and is owned by Rust Communications.[11]


  • WTRO (AM) 1450 and FM 101.7 - classic hits, reports local and national news.
  • WTNV FM Eagle 97.3
  • WYFQ 88.3 - Religious
  • WZKV 90.7 - Christian Contemporary
  • WASL (FM) 100.1 - Rock

Notable people[edit]

  • John Calvin Fiser (1838-1876) was an American merchant and soldier (Colonel)[12]
  • Robert Fuller (1947–present), professional wrestler, better known as a manager in WCW and WWF
  • James A. Gardner (First Lieutenant), recipient of the Medal of Honor, 1966
  • George "Two Ton" Harris (1927-2002) (wrestler), known as "Baby Blimp", professional wrestler, National Wrestling Alliance
  • Emmett Kelly, Jr. (1923-2006), "The World's Most Famous Clown" better known as "Weary Willie"
  • Michael Swift (1974–present) (National Football League) 1997 San Diego Chargers, 1998-1999 Carolina Panthers, 2000 Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Henderson Edward Wright (1919-1995), Major League Baseball pitcher, Boston Braves and Philadelphia Athletics - 1945–48, 1952

Philip Edgar King (born June 22, 1936 – January 1973) was an American football running back in the National Football League for the New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Minnesota Vikings. He played college football at Vanderbilt University and was drafted in the first round (twelfth overall) of the 1958 NFL Draft. Nicknamed "The Chief" due to his Native American heritage. Wore number 24.


Primary and secondary education[edit]

Dyer County School System

  • Fifth Consolidated Elementary School - Proficient and Advanced - 89.1 Math - 70.2 Reading/Language - 81.6 Science
  • Finley Elementary School - Proficient and Advanced - 64.8 Math - 51.9 Reading/Language - 73 Science
  • Holice Powell Elementary School - Proficient and Advanced - 82.4 Math - 51.3 Reading/Language - Science 73.1
  • Newbern Elementary School - Proficient and Advanced - 52.4 Math - 44.7 Reading/Language - Science 66.3
  • Northview Middle School - Proficient and Advanced - 55.8 Math - 52.7 Reading/Language - 72.4 Science
  • Three Oaks Middle School - Proficient and Advanced 64.9 Math - 56.4 Reading/Language - 75.8 Science
  • Trimble Elementary School - Proficient and Advanced - 70.4 Math - 59.1 Reading/Language - 70.5 Science
  • Dyer County High School - Proficient and Advanced - 86.2 Algebra I - 77.7 Algebra II - 80.8 Biology - 58.2 Chemistry - 75.2 English I - 68.2 English II - 54.4 English III[13]

Dyersburg City School System

  • Dyersburg Primary School
  • Dyersburg Middle School - Proficient and Advanced - Level 5 School - 62.9 Math - 53.6 Reading/Language - 72.8 Science
  • Dyersburg Intermediate School - Proficient and Advanced - 53.3 Math - 38.6 Reading/Language - 48.7 Science
  • Dyersburg High School - Proficient and Advanced - 62.8 Algebra I - 67.6 Algebra II - 69.4 Biology - 49.6 Chemistry - 70.5 English I - 67.3 English II - 22.7 English III[13]

Private school

  • Christ Classical Academy

Higher education[edit]

Dyersburg State Community College was established in 1969. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and operated by the Tennessee Board of Regents. It is an Agent Portal Library.

Area libraries and museums[edit]

  • McIver's Grant Public Library, Dyersburg - 35,002 volumes
  • Newbern Library, Newbern - 23,905 volumes
  • Hamilton Parks Public Library, Trimble - 10,366 volumes
  • Dyer County Museum, Dyersburg
  • Veterans' Museum, Dyersburg
  • Army Air Base Memorial

Area recreation[edit]

  • Bruce Recreation Center
  • Future City Recreation Center
  • Kayaking and canoeing on the Forked Deer River; Forked Deer River Park in development
  • Youth Sports Program - Dyersburg Parks and Recreation Department - Basketball, Soccer, Softball Dyersburg Activity Center
  • Reelfoot Lake State Park is located 28 miles (45 km) to the north in Lake and Obion counties.

Points of interest[edit]

  • Annual Dyer County Fair - September 2015 - 68th year
  • Sorghum Valley Christmas - Antique Village - December
  • Historic Courthouse Square - 45 buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places
  • Mainstream Farmers Market - Fresh Produce - Live music
  • General Strahl's Cannon and Gravesite - Old City Cemetery - East Court Street and Liberty Avenue
  • Soldier in Grey - Historic Courthouse Square - Dedicated April 6, 1905 on the 43 anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh
  • Dr. Walter E. David Wildlife Museum - Dyersburg State Community College
  • Dyersburg Municipal Golf Course (City Golf Course - Walter Poston Memorial) - Leader Board - Picnic tables - Cooker access
  • Farms Golf Club - 18 holes - 2 practice putting greens - full pro shop - swimming pool
  • Oakview Links Golf Course - 9 hole course - City of Newbern
  • Forked Deer River Trail - located behind the Farmers Market - Dyersburg
  • Great River Road - Western Border following the Mississippi River - National Scenic Byway 185.5 mile corridor - Tiptonville, TN

City parks and activity centers[edit]

  • Okeena Park - Pavilion Kiwanis Park
  • Evansville Park Dyersburg Park Dyersburg Activity Center Bruce Recreation Center
  • Future City Recreation Center Scott Park
  • YMCA - Youth Sports


Holy Angels Catholic Church in Dyersburg

Dyersburg/Dyer County is home to approximately 80 places of worship of various denominations.


  • Dyersburg Community Orchestra


Dyersburg Regional Medical Center is accredited by the Joint Commission and is part of Tennova's seven-hospital healthcare network. Its chest pain center with PCI Status is accredited by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care. The medical center has 225 licensed beds and 82 active physicians.


  • Caterpillar - Precision Machined Castings
  • Dot Foods - Nations' largest food redistribution - $24 million facility
  • Ermco - Manufactures single phase transformers - both the polemount and padmount design - components products include circuit breakers, fuses, fuse holders, bushings, switches, and tap changers.
  • Firestone - Part of Bridgestone - Industrial Automotive Products
  • Hexpol - Compounding Colonial Rubber Works dedicated to technological leadership in the development and production of high quality rubber compounds.
  • Nordyne - Residential and commercial HVAC products under brand names Maytag, Frigidaire, Tappan, Westinghouse, Philco, Kelvinator and Gibson.
  • NSK - Global supplier of roller bearings, ball bearings, linear motion and automotive components with domestic and overseas manufacturing capabilities.
  • Polyone - Producer Services and Engineered Resins & Compounds

Area transportation[edit]

The nearest Amtrak service is in Newbern.


  1. ^ "City of Dyersburg, Tennessee". City of Dyersburg, Tennessee. Retrieved August 14, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Dyersburg city, Tennessee". American Factfinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b "DYER COUNTY". tennesseeencyclopedia.net. Retrieved 17 April 2018. 
  7. ^ "1917: Lation Scott lynched". executedtoday.com. 2 December 2014. Retrieved 17 April 2018. 
  8. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  9. ^ http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/47/4722200.html.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ "Dyersburg State Gazette". Dyersburg State Gazette. Retrieved August 14, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b "Dyersburg News State Gazette". YP Intellectual Property LLC. Retrieved August 14, 2012. 
  12. ^ Sources vary as to the exact date of his death. Banks (p. 87) gives June 4; both "Antietam on the Web" and Allardice (p. 87) state June 14; Eicher (p. 596) gives June 15.
  13. ^ a b Tennessee Department of Education 2015

External links[edit]