East Tennessee

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East Tennessee comprises approximately the eastern third of the U.S. state of Tennessee, one of the three Grand Divisions of Tennessee defined in state law. East Tennessee consists of 33 counties, 30 located within the Eastern Time Zone and three counties in the Central Time Zone, namely Bledsoe, Cumberland, and Marion.[1] East Tennessee is entirely located within the Appalachian Mountains, although the landforms range from densely forested 6,000-foot (1,800 m) mountains to broad river valleys. The region contains the major cities of Knoxville, Chattanooga and Johnson City, Tennessee's third, fourth and ninth largest cities, respectively.

East Tennessee is both geographically and culturally part of Appalachia, and has been included— along with Western North Carolina, North Georgia, Eastern Kentucky, Southwest Virginia, and the state of West Virginia— in every major definition of the Appalachian region since the early 20th century.[2] East Tennessee is home to the nation's most visited national park— the Great Smoky Mountains National Park— and hundreds of smaller recreational areas. East Tennessee is often called the birthplace of country music, due largely to the 1927 Victor recording sessions in Bristol, and throughout the 20th and 21st centuries has produced a steady stream of musicians of national and international fame.[3] Oak Ridge was the site of the world's first successful uranium enrichment operations which paved the way for the atomic age.[4] The Tennessee Valley Authority, created to spur economic development and help modernize the region's economy and society, has its administrative operations headquartered in Knoxville and its power operations headquartered in Chattanooga.


Hills in East Tennessee

Unlike the geographic designations of regions of most U.S. states, the term East Tennessee has legal as well as socioeconomic meaning. East Tennessee, along with Middle Tennessee and West Tennessee, comprises one of the state's three Grand Divisions. According to the Tennessee State Constitution, no more than two of the Tennessee Supreme Court's five justices can come from any one Grand Division.[5] The Supreme Court rotates meeting in courthouses in each of the three divisions. The Supreme Court building for East Tennessee is in Knoxville. A similar rule applies to certain other commissions and boards as well, to prevent them from showing a geographic bias.


East Tennessee includes parts of three major geological divisions— the Blue Ridge on the border with North Carolina in the east, the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians (usually called the "Great Appalachian Valley" or "Tennessee Valley") in the center, and the Cumberland Plateau in the west, bordering Middle Tennessee.

The Blue Ridge section comprises the western (or "Unaka") section of the Blue Ridge Province, the crest of which forms most of the Tennessee-North Carolina border and consists of the highest parts of the state (including Clingmans Dome, the state's highest point).[6] The Blue Ridge is subdivided into several subranges— the Iron Mountains, Roan Highlands, and Bald Mountains in the north, the Great Smoky Mountains in the center, and the Unicoi Mountains and Little Frog and Big Frog Mountain areas in the south.[7] Most of the Blue Ridge section is heavily forested and protected by various state and federal entities, the largest of which include the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee National Forest.[6]

Major landforms of East Tennessee

The Ridge-and-Valley section, often called the Tennessee Valley or "Great Valley," is the region's largest and most populous section. It consists of a series of alternating elongate ridges and broad river valleys roughly oriented northeast-to-southwest. This section's most notable feature, the Tennessee River, forms at the confluence of the Holston and French Broad rivers in Knoxville, and flows southwestward to Chattanooga, where it enters the Tennessee River Gorge. Other notable rivers in the upper Tennessee watershed include the Clinch, Nolichucky, Watauga, Emory, Little Tennessee, Hiwassee, Sequatchie, and Ocoee rivers. Notable "ridges" in the Ridge-and-Valley range include Clinch Mountain, Bays Mountain, and Powell Mountain.[6]

The Cumberland Plateau rises nearly 1,000 feet (300 m) above the Tennessee Valley, stretching from Cumberland Gap at the Tennessee-Kentucky-Virginia border southwestward to the Alabama border.[6] The "Tennessee Divide" runs along the western part of the plateau, and separates the watersheds of the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. Plateau counties mostly east of this divide— i.e. Cumberland, Morgan, and Scott— are grouped with East Tennessee, whereas plateau counties west of this divide (Fentress, Van Buren, and Grundy) are considered part of Middle Tennessee. Three counties— Bledsoe, Sequatchie, and Marion— are located in the Sequatchie Valley, a long narrow valley in the southern part of the Cumberland Plateau. These three counties were traditionally part of East Tennessee. However, Sequatchie and Marion counties were reassigned to the Middle Tennessee grand division circa 1932. Marion County was later returned to East Tennessee, but Sequatchie County officially remains part of Middle Tennessee.[1][8] One notable detached section of the Plateau is Lookout Mountain, which overlooks Chattanooga.[9]


The Official Tourism Website of Tennessee[10] has a definition of East Tennessee slightly different from the legal definition.: The website excludes Cumberland County while including Grundy and Sequatchie Counties.


East Tennessee Sunset

The major cities of East Tennessee are Knoxville (near the center of East Tennessee), Chattanooga (in southeastern Tennessee at the Georgia border), and the "Tri-Cities" of Bristol, Johnson City, and Kingsport located in the extreme northeasternmost part of the state. The Blue Ridge section of the state is much more sparsely populated, its main cities being Elizabethton, Gatlinburg, and Tellico Plains. Crossville and Jasper are prominent cities in the Plateau region.

Cities and towns with 10,000+ population (2016 estimates)


Climate data for Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, Tennessee (1981–2010 normals,[a] extremes 1879–present[b])
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 78
Mean maximum °F (°C) 67.9
Average high °F (°C) 50.2
Average low °F (°C) 30.7
Mean minimum °F (°C) 13.1
Record low °F (°C) −10
Average precipitation inches (mm) 4.91
Average snowfall inches (cm) 1.7
trace 0.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 10.7 10.2 10.7 9.5 10.6 10.4 11.7 9.4 8.0 7.7 9.6 11.1 119.6
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 1.0 0.9 0.3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.1 0.4 2.7
Average relative humidity (%) 71.2 68.2 65.9 63.8 71.5 73.1 74.9 76.0 77.0 74.6 73.5 72.9 71.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 147.0 155.6 200.5 240.2 275.6 275.5 265.2 256.8 227.9 218.8 158.7 140.4 2,562.2
Percent possible sunshine 47 51 54 61 64 63 60 62 61 63 51 46 58
Source: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961–1990)[12][13][14]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2016177,571[15]5.9%

As of the census of 2010, there were 167,674 people, 70,749 households, and 40,384 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,222.5 people per square mile (472.5/km²). There were 79,607 housing units at an average density of 588.8 per square mile (226.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 58.0% White, 34.9% Black, 2.0% Asian, 0.4% American Indian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.8% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin (regardless of race) constituted 5.5% of the total population. Non-Hispanic Whites were 55.9% of the population in 2010, down from 67.3% in 1980.[18][19] There were 70,749 households out of which 26.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36% were married couples living together, 17.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42% were non-families. 33.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 26% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the city, the population was spread out with 21.3% under the age of 18, 11.5% from 18 to 24, 27% from 25 to 44, 25.5% from 45 to 64, and 14.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38.1 years. 46.1% of the population was male and 53.9% of the population was female.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,817, and the median income for a family was $43,314. Males had a median income of $36,109 versus $31,077 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,756. About 14% of families and 16.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27% of those under age 18 and 13.8% of those age 65 or over.

Chattanooga's Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Hamilton, Marion, and Sequatchie counties in Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties in Georgia, grew from 476,531 people, as of the 2000 census, to 529,222 people, as of the 2010 census, an 11% increase during the 2000s.[20]


The single largest religious group in Chattanooga is Christianity. According to 2010 statistics, the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest denomination with 225 congregations and 122,300 members followed by the United Methodist Church with 31,500 members and 83 churches. The third-largest group of Christians identify as non-denominational. The third-largest organized denomination is the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) with 82 churches and 17,900 members. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville has 12 congregations and 14,300 members. The second-largest religion is Islam, with 2,200 adherents.[21]


Child labor at Richmond Spinning Mill in Chattanooga, 1910. Photo by Lewis Hine.

Chattanooga's economy includes a diversified and growing mix of manufacturing and service industries.

Notable Chattanooga businesses include Access America Transport, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, CBL & Associates, The Chattanooga Bakery, Chattem, the world's first Coca-Cola bottling plant, Coker Tire, U.S. Xpress Inc., Covenant Transport, Double Cola, CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Luken Communications, Miller & Martin, the National Model Railroad Association, Reliance Partners, Republic Parking System, Rock/Creek, Tricycle Inc., and Unum. The city also hosts large branch offices of Cigna, AT&T, T-Mobile USA, and UBS. McKee Foods Corporation, the maker of nationally known Little Debbie brand snack cakes, is a privately held, family-run company headquartered in nearby Collegedale, Tennessee.

Notable companies that have manufacturing or distribution facilities in the city include Alstom, Amazon.com, BASF, DuPont, Invista, Komatsu, Rock-Tenn, Plantronics, Domtar, Norfolk Southern, Ferrara Candy Company (manufacturer of Brach's candies), Alco Chemical, Colonial Pipeline, and Buzzi Unicem.[22] The William Wrigley Jr. Company has a prominent presence in Chattanooga, the sole site of production of Altoids breath mint products since 2005.[23][24] There is also a Vulcan Materials quarry in the vicinity of the city.

In a seminal event for Chattanooga, Volkswagen announced in July 2008 the construction of its first U.S. auto plant in over three decades, the Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant.[25] In May 2011, Volkswagen Group of America inaugurated its Chattanooga Assembly Plant.[26] The $1 billion plant, opened in May 2011, serves as the group's North American manufacturing headquarters. The plant, which currently employs some 2,700 people and will increase by another 2,000 people within the next few years and manufactures the Passat (since April 2011) and the Atlas (from late 2016), will have a first-in-the-South full research and development center in downtown Chattanooga, employing some 200 engineers.[27][28][29] The plant is the first one in the United States for Volkswagen since the 1988 closure of the Volkswagen Westmoreland Assembly Plant near New Stanton, Pennsylvania.[30]

In addition to corporate business interests, there are many retail shops in Chattanooga, including two shopping malls: Hamilton Place Mall in East Brainerd and Northgate Mall in Hixson. Eastgate Mall in Brainerd used to be a shopping mall, but has changed into a multi-use office building. The P.F. Chang's restaurant at Hamilton Place Mall has had a unique theme since the restaurant opened in November 2006: water, based on the fundamental role the Tennessee River plays in Chattanooga and the fact that the CEO of P.F. Chang's since 2000, Richard Federico, is a 1976 alumnus of the University of Tennessee and has family in Chattanooga.[31] In December 2001, Chattanooga was the site of the first two Dairy Queen Grill and Chill restaurants in the United States.[32][33][34]

Tourism and Hospitality has been a growing part of Chattanooga's economy, with 2014 being the first year for Hamilton County to surpass $1 billion in revenue.

Startups have been an increasing trend, due in part to EPB's fiber optic grid. Notable venture firms based in the city are Blank Slate Ventures, Chattanooga Renaissance Fund, Lamp Post Group, SwiftWing Ventures, and The Jump Fund. The city is served by several incubators, notably Co.Lab, the Business Development Center, and Lamp Post Group. The Business Development Center is among the nation's largest incubators, both in square footage and in the number of startups that it supports.[35] Co-working spaces have picked up downtown, including Society of Work and Chattanooga Workspace. Unique in the city is the startup accelerator Gigtank, which utilizes the city's gigabit capacities and focuses on 3D printing, healthcare, and smartgrid technologies. Notable startups include Quickcue (acquired by OpenTable in 2013), Reliance Partners, PriceWaiter, Bellhops Moving Help, Variable Inc. (NODE), Ambition, Workhound, Feetz, and TransCard. Chattanooga went from zero investable capital in 2009 to over $50 million in 2014.


Chickamauga Lock and Dam on the Tennessee River at Chattanooga

Electric power for most of the city and surrounding area is provided by the city-run Electric Power Board (EPB). EPB also provides high-speed Internet service, TV, and telephone service to business and residential customers throughout Hamilton County, as well as parts of Bledsoe County, Bradley County, Catoosa County, Dade County, Marion County, Rhea County, Sequatchie County, and Walker County, via the nation's largest municipally owned fiber optic system.[36][37][38] TVA operates the nearby Sequoyah Nuclear Power Plant, Chickamauga Dam, and the Raccoon Mountain Pumped-Storage Plant, all of which provide electricity to the greater Chattanooga area. TVA's corporate power generation and distribution organization is headquartered in downtown Chattanooga.

Natural gas and water are provided by the privately run Chattanooga Gas Company and Tennessee-American Water Company, respectively. In 2005, then-Mayor Ron Littlefield stated his desire for the city to purchase the Tennessee-American Water Company, which was sold in a public offering in 2007.[39][40] Former Mayor Jon Kinsey's attempts to have the city buy control of Tennessee-American Water were defeated in court.

EPB Fiber Optics is the dominant cable and internet service provider for most areas of the city.[41] The incumbent telephone company is AT&T Inc. However, competing phone companies, such as EPB, cellular phones, and VoIP are making inroads. A major interstate fiber optics line operated by AT&T traverses the city, making its way from Atlanta to Cincinnati. There are more choices among TV, Internet, and phone service providers for Chattanooga residents than in most other cities its size because of the intense competition between AT&T, Comcast, and EPB.[42]

EPB's gigabit public fiber optic network[edit]

Beginning in 2009 and continuing through March 2011, when Haletown, Tennessee received service from EPB's fiber optic network, EPB began to establish its exclusive fiber optic network to its 600 sq mi (1,600 km2) service area, which covers the greater Chattanooga Metropolitan Statistical Area.[43] In September 2010, EPB became the first municipally owned utilities company in the United States to offer internet access directly to the public at speeds up to ten gigabit (10,000 megabits) per second by utilizing its fiber optic network.[44][45] The network has been emulated by at least six other cities in Tennessee and studied by other cities in the US and even internationally.[46][47] Jay Weatherill, South Australia's Premier, visited Chattanooga in January 2012 and "looked at the current gigabit network that was supporting critical city safety functions such as police and fire communications infrastructure, equipment and applications. He also inspected wastewater management, storm water management, traffic control and medical diagnostics applications [and] first-hand operations of a smart lighting and camera system that allows the police to control public lighting and see what is happening in heavy crime areas. [The article says the] use of broadband to carry the video and control signaling has contributed to making Chattanooga's Coolidge Park a safer place to visit."[48]

In 2011 the expansion of EPB's network became a subject of major controversy in Tennessee.[49] The success of its network, credited with the expansion of Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant and the establishment of Amazon.com facilities in Chattanooga and Cleveland, led to a number of legal challenges by AT&T and Comcast insisting that public funds not be used to fund expansion of public networks in competition with private ones.[50][51] However, according to EPB itself, federal agencies, electricity industry trade sources, and other press sources, the investment in the fully fiber optic network is justified by electrical system benefits alone, including early fault detection and decreases in standby power.[52][53][54][55][56][57]


As of 2014, there are 27 banks operating in the Chattanooga metropolitan area, lending to financial strength.[58] Among the heavy hitters are regional banks First Tennessee, SunTrust Banks, and Regions Financial Corporation, but the area also has offices from UBS, Chase, and Bank of America. In part to the strength and growing economic development, Chase recently shifted its East Tennessee headquarters from Knoxville to Chattanooga.[59]

Within the first four months of 2015, Chattanooga became a very hot market for bank mergers with the merging of 3 locally owned banks, and 1 in nearby Cleveland, Tennessee. CapitalMark, formed in 2007, will be acquired by the Nashville-based Pinnacle Financial Partners for $187 million to have the fourth largest market share in the Chattanooga metro area.[60] First Security Group, Inc, the largest Chattanooga-based bank, formed in 2000, will be acquired by the Atlanta-based Atlantic Capital Bancshares, Inc., for $160 million. Cornerstone, started in 1985, will merge with the Knoxville-based SmartBank in a stock deal. Cleveland's Southern Heritage Bank was acquired in 2014 by First Citizens National Bank in Dyersburg, Tennessee, for $32.2 million. All these mergers only leave one Chattanooga-based, independent bank, First Volunteer Bank. Others in the area locally based include Dunlap, Tennessee-based Citizens Tri-County Bank, Ooltewah-based Community Trust and Banking Co., Dayton, Tennessee-based Community National Bank, Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia-based Capital Bank, LaFayette, Georgia-based Bank of LaFayette, and Cleveland-based Bank of Cleveland.[61]

Culture and tourism[edit]


Contemporary extension of the Hunter Museum of American Art

As the birthplace of the tow truck, Chattanooga is the home of the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum.[62] Another transportation icon, the passenger train, can be found at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, called TVRM by locals, which is the largest operating historic railroad in the South. Chattanooga is home to the Hunter Museum of American Art. Other notable museums include the Chattanooga History Center, the National Medal of Honor Museum, the Houston Museum, the Chattanooga African American Museum, and the Creative Discovery Museum.[63][64][65][66][67]

Arts and literature[edit]

Chattanooga has a wide range of performing arts in different venues. Chattanooga's historic Tivoli Theatre, dating from 1921 and one of the first public air-conditioned buildings in the United States, is home to the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera (CSO), which became the first merged symphony and opera company in the United States in 1985. The CSO performs under the baton of Kayoko Dan.[68] The Chattanooga Theatre Centre offers 15 productions each year in three separate theater programs: the Mainstage, the Circle Theater, and the Youth Theater.[69][70] Another popular performance venue is Memorial Auditorium.

Chattanooga hosts several writing conferences, including the Conference on Southern Literature and the Festival of Writers, both sponsored by the Arts & Education Council of Chattanooga.[71][72][73]


Chattanooga touts many attractions, including the Tennessee Aquarium, caverns, and new waterfront attractions along and across the Tennessee River. In the downtown area is the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel, housed in the renovated Terminal Station. Also downtown are the Creative Discovery Museum, a hands-on children's museum dedicated to science, art, and music; an IMAX 3D Theatre, and the newly expanded Hunter Museum of American Art. The Tennessee Riverwalk, an approximately 13-mile-long (21 km) trail running alongside the river, is another attraction for both tourists and residents alike.

Across the river from downtown is the North Shore district, roughly bounded by the Olgiati Bridge to the west and Veterans Bridge to the east. The newly renovated area draws locals and tourists to locally owned independent boutique stores and restaurants, plus attractions along the Chattanooga Riverpark system, including Coolidge Park and Renaissance Park.[74][75]

The Chattanooga Zoo at Warner Park is located a short distance from the downtown area.

Parks and natural scenic areas provide other attractions. The red-and-black painted "See Rock City" barns along highways in the Southeast are remnants of a now-classic Americana tourism campaign to attract visitors to the Rock City tourist attraction in nearby Lookout Mountain, Georgia. The mountain is also the site of Ruby Falls and Craven's House.[76] The Lookout Mountain Incline Railway is a steep funicular railway that rises from the St. Elmo Historic District to the top of the mountain, where passengers can visit the National Park Service's Point Park and the Battles for Chattanooga Museum.[77] Formerly known as Confederama, the museum includes a diorama that details the Battle of Chattanooga. From the military park, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Moccasin Bend and the Chattanooga skyline from the mountain's famous "point" or from vantage points along the well-marked trail system.[78]

The Heritage park is a park that lies in East Brainerd. Heritage park has a bocce ball court, a playground complete with swings, and a walking pavement. The park also features an off-leash dog park which is operated by the Friends of East Brainerd, the City of Chattanooga Parks and Recreation Department, McKamey Animal Center and the Goodwill Assistance Dog Academy.

Near Chattanooga, the Raccoon Mountain Reservoir, Raccoon Mountain Caverns, and Reflection Riding Arboretum and Botanical Garden boast a number of outdoor and family fun opportunities. Other arboretums include Bonny Oaks Arboretum, Cherokee Arboretum at Audubon Acres, and Cherokee Trail Arboretum. The Ocoee River, host to a number of events at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, features rafting, kayaking, camping, and hiking. Just outside Chattanooga is the Lake Winnepesaukah amusement park. The Cumberland Trail begins in Signal Mountain, just outside Chattanooga.

Festivals and events[edit]

Chattanooga hosts the well-known Riverbend Festival, an annual nine-day music festival held in June in the downtown area. One of the most popular events is the "Bessie Smith Strut", a one-night showcase of blues and jazz music named for the city's most noted blues singer. The annual "Southern Brewer's Festival" and the "River Roast" festival celebrate such traditional Southern staples as beer and barbecue.

New events, such as GoFest!, the "Between the Bridges" wakeboard competition, Heritage Festival, and Talespin, complement well-established events, such as Riverbend and the Southern Brewer's Festival, and attract their own audiences.[79][80] Back Row Films is a citywide celebration of film co-sponsored by the Hunter Museum of American Art, the Arts & Education Council, and UTC.[81]

"Nightfall" is a free weekly concert series in Miller Plaza on Friday nights that features an eclectic mix of rock, blues, jazz, reggae, zydeco, funk, bluegrass, and folk music from Memorial Day until the end of September.[82] The Chattanooga Market features events all year round as part of the "Sunday at the Southside", including an Oktoberfest in mid-October.

The Chattanooga Dulcimer Festival, held each June, features workshops for mountain dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, and auto harp, among others, along with performances by champion performers from across the nation.[83]

Chattanooga is also the center of much bluegrass music. In 1935, as well as from 1993 to 1995, the city hosted the National Folk Festival. Since 2007, the annual 3 Sisters Festival showcases traditional and contemporary bluegrass artists, and has been named one of the country's top 5 bluegrass festivals by Great American Country.[84]

Each January, Chattanooga plays host to Chattacon, a science fiction and fantasy literary convention.[85] The convention is organized by the nonprofit Chattanooga Speculative Fiction Fans, Inc. First held in 1976, the convention drew an estimated 1,000 attendees to the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel in 2012, as well as an estimated 1,300 attendees in 2013.[86][87]


Chattanooga has a large, growing, and diversified sports scene for a city of its size, including college sports, minor league baseball, semi-professional teams, professional cycling exemplified by the Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road & Time Trial National Championships, the Ironman Triathlon, and a large nationally renowned regatta the first weekend of November.

Club Sport League Founded
Chattanooga Pro Soccer Soccer USL D3 2019

Organized sports[edit]

Chattanooga was the home of the NCAA Division I Football Championship game, which was held at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga, from 1997 to 2009.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) Mocs compete in NCAA Division I and the Southern Conference. UTC's athletic programs include football at the FCS level, women's soccer, volleyball, and cross country in the fall; men's and women's basketball, Wrestling, and indoor track & field in the winter; and softball and outdoor track & field in the spring. Men's and women's golf and men's and women's tennis play in the fall and spring.

The Chattanooga Lookouts, a Class AA Southern League baseball team affiliated with the Minnesota Twins, boast a loyal following and respectable participation in season-end playoffs.[88] Games take center stage at the downtown riverfront AT&T Field with tickets starting at $5.

Chattanooga is home to several semi-professional football teams, including the Tennessee Crush and the Chattanooga Steam. The Tennessee Crush plays its games at Finley Stadium in downtown Chattanooga. The Chattanooga Steam plays at Lookout Valley High School near Lookout Mountain.

The city's semi-professional soccer team, Chattanooga FC, plays in the National Premier Soccer League and has led the league in attendance three of the four years of its existence.[citation needed] Chattanooga FC has also gone to the national finals three times since its inception, and drew a record 18,227 fans for their 2015 NPSL title match.[89] The club has also found success in the U.S. Open Cup defeating the professional USL's Wilmington Hammerheads to reach the tournament's third round in 2014 and 2015.

Chattanooga is also home to several rugby teams: the Chattanooga Rugby Football Club, Nooga Red, Nooga Black, men's Old Boys, a women's rugby team, men's and women's teams at UTC, and an all-city high school team.[90] The Chattanooga Rugby Football Club, which was established in 1978 and the 2011 and 2013 DII Mid South champions, is affiliated with USA Rugby and USA Rugby South. The club fields two teams, Nooga Red, which competes in Division II, and Nooga Black, which competes in Division III.[91] There is also a men's Old Boys team, a Chattanooga women's rugby team, as well as collegiate men's and women's teams representing the Mocs at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. A citywide high school rugby team, the Wolfpack, was established in 2012 and is open to any high school player living in the Chattanooga area.[90] All seven teams play their home matches at Montague Park.

Overlooking the grandstand and finish area at the 2008 Head of the Hooch

Outdoor sports[edit]


The Head of the Hooch rowing regatta takes place along the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga during the first weekend of November. The head race originally took place on the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta before moving to Chattanooga in 2005, hence the name Head of the Hooch. With 1,965 boats in 2011 and nearly 2,000 boats in 2012, this competition ranks as the 2nd largest regatta in the United States,[92] with numerous college and youth teams, such as UNC Men's Crew, Vanderbilt Rowing Club, James Madison University Crew, University of Tennessee Women's Rowing, Orlando Rowing Club, Nashville Rowing Club, Newport Rowing Club, and Chattanooga Rowing, competing.[93][94][95] There are also multiple local rowing clubs, such as the Lookout Rowing Club for adults and the Chattanooga Junior Rowing Club for high school students. The weekend of the Head of the Hooch also sees hot-air balloon rides and other activities.


In 2013, the Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road & Time Trial National Championships were held in Chattanooga. The schedule for the 3-day event on May 25–27 featured a handcycling time trail and various other cycling time trials and road races, including a men's road race that took the cyclists through the heart of downtown Chattanooga and up Lookout Mountain for a total race distance of 102.5 miles (165.0 km).[96] American professional cyclist Freddie Rodriguez won the national road race championship title for the fourth time in his career.[97] The Championships' debut in Chattanooga marked the first time in the event's 29-year history that women were allowed to compete for professional national titles.[98] Chattanooga will also host the Championships in 2014 and 2015.[99]


Due to its location at the junction of the Cumberland Plateau and the southern Appalachians, Chattanooga has become a haven for outdoor sports, and has even been named Outside Magazine's "Best Town Ever" twice[100] such as hunting, fishing, trail running, road running, adventure racing, rock climbing, mountain biking, and road biking. The internationally known[101] StumpJump 50k has been hosted on nearby Signal Mountain since 2002.


In August 2013, further cementing Chattanooga's growing status as a nationally recognized outdoor haven,[102][103] the Chattanooga Sports Committee, an organization established in 1992 to help the city host major sporting events, announced that the Ironman Triathlon would be coming to the city in a 5-year deal.[104][105] The city became one of only 11 cities in the United States to host the grueling competition showcasing Chattanooga's natural beauty, which consists of a 2.4-mile (3.9 km) swim, a 112-mile (180 km) bike race (which is broken down into two 56-mile (90 km) loops), and a 26.2-mile (42.2 km) run (which is broken down into two 13.1-mile (21.1 km) loops). The event has a $40,000 prize purse and chances to qualify for the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.[106] On November 4, 2014 it was announced that Chattanooga would host The Ironman 70.3 event, also known as the Half Ironman, in addition to the standard Ironman Triathlon. This event consists of a 1.2-mile (1.9 km) swim, 56-mile (90 km) bike ride, and 13.1-mile (21.1 km) run, and has a prize pot of $30,000. On September 29, 2015, The Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau announced that Ironman had chosen Chattanooga, Tennessee to host the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championships.[107]


Chattanooga has been a member of the League of American Bicyclists' Bronze level since October 2003, the only city in Tennessee to be a member of the organization before Knoxville and Nashville joined in 2010 and 2012, respectively.[108] The city boasts a number of outdoor clubs: Scenic City Velo, SORBA-Chattanooga, the Wilderness Trail Running Association, and the Chattanooga Track Club. The city also funds Outdoor Chattanooga, an organization focused on promoting outdoor recreation. In September 2004, the city appointed its first-ever executive director of Outdoor Chattanooga to implement the organization's mission, which includes promoting bicycling for transportation, recreation, and active living.[109] For paddlers, Chattanooga offers the Tennessee River Blueway, a 50-mile (80 km) recreational section of the Tennessee River that flows through Chattanooga and the Tennessee River Gorge. The Tennessee Aquarium has a high speed catamaran, the River Gorge Explorer, to allow up to 70 people to explore the Tennessee River Gorge.[110] The Explorer departs from the Chattanooga Pier.[111] Since 2008, Chattanooga has hosted the Skyhoundz World Canine Disc Championship, the crowning event of the largest disc dog competition series in the world.

Media and communications[edit]

The city of Chattanooga is served by numerous local, regional, and national media outlets which reach approximately one million people in four states: Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and North Carolina.


The Chattanooga Times Free Press, the area's only daily newspaper, is published every morning. It was formed in 1999 from the merger of two papers that had been bitter rivals for half a century, the Times and the News-Free Press. The Times was owned and published by Adolph Ochs, who later bought The New York Times. The Times was the morning paper and had a generally more liberal editorial page. The News-Free Press, whose name was the result of an earlier merger, was an afternoon daily and its editorials were more conservative than those in the Times. On August 27, 1966, the News-Free Press became the first newspaper in the nation to dissolve a joint operating agreement.[112][113] In 1999, the Free Press, which had changed its name from News-Free Press in 1993, was bought by an Arkansas company, WEHCO Media, publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which then bought The Times from the Ochs heirs.[114] The Times Free Press is the only newspaper in the United States to have 2 editorial pages, each reflecting opposite ends of the political spectrum. The Times' editorial page, which is liberal, is on the left page and the Free Press' editorial page, which is conservative, is on the right page.[115]

The Chattanooga Pulse is a free weekly alternative newspaper, published every Wednesday, that focuses primarily on arts, music, film and culture.[116] It was formed in 2003 by Zachary Cooper and Michael Kull, running independently until 2008, when the paper was purchased by Brewer Media Group, which also owns and operates five radio stations in the city.

Enigma is a free monthly pop culture and entertainment magazine.[117] Founded as a weekly newspaper in 1995 by David Weinthal, Enigma lays claim to being Chattanooga's oldest alternative newspaper, even though it had ceased physical publication from 2013 until resuming as a monthly magazine in 2015.

The Chattanooga News Chronicle is an African-American weekly newspaper.[118]

Online media[edit]

The Chattanoogan and its website "Chattanoogan.com", established in 1999, is an online media outlet that concentrates on news from Chattanooga, North Georgia, and Southeast Tennessee. The publisher is John Wilson, previously a staff writer for the Chattanooga Free Press. The Chattanoogan is the oldest online newspaper in Chattanooga.[119][120]

Nooga.com, purchased in November 2010 by local entrepreneur Barry Large, relaunched in 2011 as a local news website offering "quality daily content focusing on local business, politics, and entertainment in the Chattanooga area."[121]


Chattanooga is served by the following AM and FM radio stations:


  • WDYN 980 AM – Southern Gospel / WDYN Radio[122] Operated By Tennessee Temple University. (Licensed to Rossville, GA)
  • WFLI 1070 AM – Southern Gospel (Licensed to Lookout Mountain, TN)
  • WGOW 1150 AM – News Talk / NewsRadio 1150[123] (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)
  • WNOO 1260 AM – Urban gospel and Motown (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)
  • WXCT 1370 AM – Sports / 1370 Fox Sports Radio (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)
  • WLMR 1450 AM – Christian Talk (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)
  • WJOC 1490 AM – Southern Gospel (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)


  • WUTC 88.1 FM – NPR[124]/Mixed music / Music 88. Operated by UTC. First station in Chattanooga to broadcast in HD Radio. (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)
  • W203AZ 88.5 FM – Religious / CSN International[125] (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)
  • WMBW 88.9 FM – Christian / Moody Radio For The Heart of the Southeast. Owned and operated by Moody Bible Institute. (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)
  • WYBK 89.7 FM – Christian. Operated By Bible Broadcasting Network. (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)
  • W211BG 90.1 FM – Religious[126] (Licensed to Walden, TN)
  • WSMC 90.5 FM – Classical/NPR/PRI[127] Operated by Southern Adventist University. (Licensed to Collegedale, TN)
  • WJBP-FM 91.5 FM – Christian / Family Life Radio[128] (Licensed to Red Bank, TN)
  • WAWL – College Alternative / The Wawl (Web only / Formerly broadcasting on 91.5) Chattanooga State Community College (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)
  • WDEF-FM 92.3 FM – Adult Contemporary / Sunny 92.3[129] (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)
  • WSAA 93.1 FM – Christian Rock / Air 1[130] (Licensed to Benton, TN)
  • WMPZ 93.5 FM – Urban Adult Contemporary / Groove 93[131] (Licensed to Harrison, TN)
  • WJTT 94.3 FM – Urban contemporary / Power 94[132] (Licensed to Red Bank, TN)
  • WAAK-LP 94.7 FM – Variety[133] (Low power station licensed to Boynton/Ringgold, GA)
  • WPLZ 95.3 FM – Classic Hits / Big 95.3[134] (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)
  • WUSY 96.1 FM - Classic Country / The Legend 96.1[135]
  • WDOD 96.5 FM – Hits 96.5—Chattanooga's No. 1 Hit Music Station[136] (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)
  • WUUQ 97.3 and 99.3 FM – Classic Country / Q Country 97.3/99.3 (Licensed to South Pittsburg, TN)
  • WLND 98.1 FM – Hot AC / 98.1 The Lake[137] (Licensed to Signal Mountain, TN)
  • WOOP-LP 99.9 FM – Classic country, old-time gospel, bluegrass, and mountain music.[138] Operated by the Traditional Music Resource Center (Licensed to Cleveland, TN)
  • WUSY 100.7 FM – Contemporary Country / US101[139] (Licensed to Cleveland, TN)
  • WJSQ 101.7 FM – Contemporary and Classic country / 101.7 WLAR[140] (Licensed to Athens, TN)
  • WOCE 101.9 FM – Spanish (Licensed to Ringgold, GA)
  • WGOW 102.3 FM – Talk Radio 102.3[141] (Licensed to Soddy-Daisy, TN)
  • WBDX 102.7 FM – Contemporary Christian[142] (Licensed to Trenton, GA)
  • WJLJ 103.1 FM – Contemporary Christian[142] (Simulcast with WBDX 102.7) (Licensed to Etowah, TN)
  • WKXJ 103.7 FM – Top 40 / 103.7 Kiss FM[143] (Licensed to Walden, TN)
  • WALV 105.1 FM – Sports Talk / ESPN 105.1 The Zone[144] (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)
  • WRXR-FM 105.5 FM – Active Rock / Rock 105[145] (Licensed to Rossville, GA)
  • WSKZ 106.5 FM – Classic Rock / KZ106[146] (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)
  • W295BI (WPLZ HD-2) Adult Contemporary / Big Easy 106.9[147] (Licensed to Ooltewah, TN)
  • WOGT 107.9 FM – Country / Nash Icon[148] (Licensed to East Ridge, TN)


Chattanooga's television stations include:

Law and government[edit]

Flag of Chattanooga from 1923-2012

The current mayor is Andy Berke, a former state senator, who won the March 2013 election.[159]

The city operates under a charter granted by the state legislature in 1852; the charter has been subsequently amended. The city operates under a strong mayor system, which changed from a commission form of government with members voted at-large. In 1989 U.S. District Judge R. Allan Edgar ruled that the commission-style government violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by diluting the minority black vote.[160] As a result of Brown v. Board of Commissioners, Chattanooga abandoned the at-large voting system that it had used for the commission form of government, established single-member districts to represent both majority and minority elements of the population, eliminated voting privileges for non-resident property owners, and created the city's current mayor-council form of government. The current strong mayor system started in 1991 after a 1990 citywide election that used the district system.[160]

The city's legislative branch is represented by members from nine districts, elected from single-member districts in partisan elections. The current council members are Chip Henderson (District 1), Jerry Mitchell (District 2), Ken Smith (District 3), Larry Grohn (District 4), Russell Gilbert (District 5), Carol Berz (District 6), Chris Anderson (District 7), Anthony Byrd (District 8), and Yusuf Hakeem (District 9).[161]

Chattanooga's delegation to the Tennessee House of Representatives includes Gerald McCormick (R), who represents District 26, Richard Floyd (R), who represents District 27, JoAnne Favors (D), who represents District 28, Mike Carter (R), who represents District 29, Vince Dean (R), who represents District 30, and Jim Cobb (R), who represents District 31.[162][163][164][165][166][167] In the Tennessee Senate, Chattanooga is divided between Districts 10 and 11 with Todd Gardenhire (R) and Bo Watson (R) representing each district respectively.[168][169]

Chattanooga is represented in the United States House of Representatives by Chuck Fleischmann (R), who represents the 3rd District.[170] In the United States Senate, both Bob Corker (R) and Lamar Alexander (R) have district offices in Chattanooga.[171][172]

Chattanooga, as the county seat of Hamilton County, is home to Chattanooga's City Courts and Hamilton County's Courts.

Chattanooga is the location of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee's Southern Division, which is housed in the Joel W. Solomon Federal Courthouse. The Southern Division has jurisdiction over Bledsoe, Bradley, Hamilton, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Polk, Rhea, and Sequatchie counties.

The Chattanooga Police Department dates from 1852. Starting in 1883, it hired black police officers, making Chattanooga one of the first major Southern cities to have them. But after the state legislature imposed segregation, black police officers were dropped from the force. They were hired again on a permanent basis beginning on August 11, 1948, years before other major cities in the Southeast, such as Birmingham, Alabama and Jackson, Mississippi, integrated their police departments. The first seven black officers in 1948, Thaddeus Arnold, Singer Askins, W.B. Baulridge, C.E. Black, Morris Glenn, Arthur Heard, and Thomas Patterson, were initially restricted to walking beats in black neighborhoods. In 1960, black police officers were authorized to patrol all neighborhoods and arrest white citizens.[173][174][175]


Primary and secondary education[edit]

Most of Chattanooga's primary and secondary education is funded by the government. The public schools in Chattanooga, as well as Hamilton County, have fallen under the purview of the Hamilton County Schools since the 1997 merger of the urban Chattanooga City Schools system and the mostly rural Hamilton County Schools system.[176][177] The Howard School, was the first public school in the area, established in 1865 after the Civil War.[178] Tyner High School (now Tyner Academy), was the first secondary school built east of Missionary Ridge in 1907. It is now the home of Tyner Middle Academy. The Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, the STEM School Of Chattanooga and the Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts are additional public magnet schools.

The city is home to several well-known private and parochial secondary schools, including Baylor School, Boyd-Buchanan School, Chattanooga Christian School, Girls Preparatory School, McCallie School, and Notre Dame High School. The Siskin Children's Institute in Chattanooga is a specialized institution in the field of early childhood special education.[179]

Higher education[edit]

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Founders Hall in June 2007

A wide variety of higher education institutions can be found in Chattanooga and nearby. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is the second largest campus of the University of Tennessee System, with a student population of over 11,669 as of 2015–16 school year.[180] Chattanooga State Community College is a two-year community college with a total undergraduate enrollment of roughly 11,000 students. Tennessee Temple University was a Baptist college located in the Highland Park neighborhood that is no longer operating as of 2015. Chattanooga is also home to a branch of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, which provides medical education to third- and fourth-year medical students, residents, and other medical professionals in southeast Tennessee through an affiliation with Erlanger Health System. Covenant College, a private liberal arts college operated by the Presbyterian Church in America, is located in the nearby suburb of Lookout Mountain, Georgia, and has a student population of about 1,000. Southern Adventist University is located in the suburb of Collegedale, Tennessee, and enrolls roughly 3,000 students. Virginia College School of Business and Health offers a variety of programs leading to diplomas, associate degrees, and bachelor's degrees.

Public library[edit]

The Chattanooga Public Library opened in 1905.[181] Since 1976, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library system had been jointly operated by the city and county governments; due to Chattanooga terminating a 1966 agreement with Hamilton County to distribute sales tax revenue equally, the city has taken over full funding responsibilities as of 2011.[182][183] The city was given a Carnegie library in 1904, and the two-story purpose-built marble structure survives to this day at Eighth Street and Georgia Avenue as commercial office space. In 1939, the library moved to Douglas Street and McCallie Avenue and shared the new building with the John Storrs Fletcher Library of the University of Chattanooga. This building is now called Fletcher Hall and houses classrooms and offices for the university. In 1976, the city library moved to its third and current location at the corner of Tenth and Broad streets.

Health care[edit]

Chattanooga has three hospital systems: Erlanger Health System, Parkridge Hospital System, and Memorial Hospital System.

Founded in 1889, Erlanger is the seventh largest public healthcare system in the United States[184] with more than half a million patient visits a year.[185] Erlanger Hospital is a non-profit academic teaching center affiliated with the University of Tennessee's College of Medicine.[186] Erlanger is also the area's primary trauma center, a Level-One Trauma Center for adults, and the only provider of tertiary care for the residents of southeastern Tennessee, north Georgia, northeastern Alabama, and western North Carolina.[186] In 2008, Erlanger was named one of the nation's "100 Top teaching hospitals for cardiovascular care" by Thomson Reuters.[187] Erlanger has been operated by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority since 1976.[188]

Parkridge Hospital is located east of downtown in the Glenwood district and is run by Tri-Star Healthcare. Tri-Star also operates Parkridge East Medical Center in nearby East Ridge.

Memorial Hospital, which is operated by Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives, is located downtown. In 2004, Memorial was named one of the "100 Top Teaching Hospitals" by Thomson Reuters.[189]

Population density[edit]

East Tennessee is the most populous and most densely populated of the three Grand Divisions. At the 2010 census it had 2,327,859 inhabitants living in its 33 counties, which have a combined land area of 13,558.27 square miles (35,115.76 km²). Its population was 37.25% of the state's total, and its land area is 32.90% of the state's land area. Its population density was 156.33 inhabitants per square mile (60.358/km²).

Congressional districts[edit]

East Tennessee includes all of the state's 1st, 2nd, and 3rd congressional districts, and part of the 4th district. The First District is concentrated around the Tri-Cities region and Upper East Tennessee. The Second District includes Knoxville and the mountain counties to the south. The Third District includes the Chattanooga area and the counties north of Knoxville (the two areas are connected by a narrow corridor in eastern Roane County). The Fourth, which extends into an area southwest of Nashville, includes several of East Tennessee's Cumberland Plateau counties.


American Indians[edit]

Much of what is known about East Tennessee's prehistoric American Indians comes as a result of TVA's reservoir construction, as federal law required archaeological investigations to be conducted in areas that were to be flooded. Excavations at the Icehouse Bottom site near Vonore revealed that American Indians were living in East Tennessee on at least a semi-annual basis as early as 7,500 B.C.[193] The region's significant Woodland period (1000 B.C. – 1000 A.D.) sites include Rose Island (also near Vonore) and Moccasin Bend (near Chattanooga).[193][194] During what archaeologists call the Mississippian period (c. 1000–1600 A.D.), East Tennessee's American Indian inhabitants were living in complex agrarian societies at places such as Toqua and Hiwassee Island,[195] and had formed a minor chiefdom known as Chiaha in the French Broad Valley. Spanish expeditions led by Hernando de Soto, Tristan de Luna, and Juan Pardo all visited East Tennessee's Mississippian-period inhabitants during the 16th century.[196]

By the time English explorers began arriving in what is now East Tennessee in the late 17th century, the Cherokee had become the region's dominant tribe. The Cherokee established a series of towns concentrated in the Little Tennessee and Hiwassee valleys that became known as the "Overhill towns", as traders from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia had to cross "over" the mountains to reach them. The Cherokee alliance with Britain during the French and Indian War led to the construction of Fort Loudoun in 1756. A peace expedition led by Henry Timberlake in 1761 provided later travelers with invaluable knowledge regarding the location of the Overhill towns and the customs of the Overhill Cherokee. In 1775, a faction of Cherokees led by Dragging Canoe— angry over the tribe's appeasement of European settlers— split off to form what became known as the Chickamauga faction, which was concentrated around what is now Chattanooga. In spite of Dragging Canoe's protests, the Cherokee were continuously induced to sign away most of the tribe's lands to the U.S. government in a series of treaties between 1775 and 1836. The last such treaty resulted in the tribe's tragic removal to Oklahoma via the Trail of Tears in 1838.[197]

Pioneer period[edit]

Early settlers of East Tennessee developed a unique type of double-cantilever barn, which evolved from an earlier barn type in Pennsylvania.

The end of the French and Indian War in 1763 brought a stream of explorers and traders into the region, among them the so-called long hunters, whose hunting expeditions lasted several months or even years. In 1769, William Bean— an associate of famed explorer Daniel Boone— built what is generally acknowledged as Tennessee's first permanent Euro-American residence in Tennessee along the Watauga River. Shortly thereafter, James Robertson and a group of migrants from North Carolina (some historians suggest they were refugees of the Regulator wars) formed the Watauga settlement at Sycamore Shoals in modern Elizabethton. In 1772, the Wataugans established the Watauga Association, which was the first constitutional government west of the Appalachians, and the "germ cell" of the state of Tennessee.[198]

During the American Revolution, the Wataugans supplied 240 militiamen (led by John Sevier) to the frontier force known as the Overmountain Men, which defeated British loyalists at the Battle of Kings Mountain.[199] Tennessee's first attempt at statehood was the State of Franklin, formed in the 1780s with its capital initially at Jonesborough and later Greeneville, but the state was never admitted by Congress.[200] The Southwest Territory, which encompassed much of what is now Tennessee and Kentucky, was created in 1790 with William Blount as its first governor. Blount and James White established the city of Knoxville as the territory's capital. Knoxville would later serve as Tennessee's first capital.[201] The vast majority of 18th century settlers were English or of primarily English descent but nearly 20% of them were also Scots-Irish.[202] Today, most people in East Tennessee are still of mostly English ancestry with some also claiming to be of Scots-Irish ancestry.[203]

Antebellum period[edit]

East Tennessee was home to one of the nation's first abolitionist movements, which arose in the early 19th century. Quakers, who had migrated to the region from Pennsylvania in the 1790s, formed the Manumission Society of Tennessee in 1814. Notable supporters included Presbyterian clergyman Samuel Doak, Tusculum College cofounder Hezekiah Balch, and Maryville College president Isaac Anderson. In 1820, Elihu Embree established The Emancipator— the nation's first exclusively abolitionist newspaper— in Jonesborough. After Embree's death, Benjamin Lundy established the Genius of Universal Emancipation in Greeneville in 1821 to continue Embree's work. By the 1830s, however, the region's abolitionist movement had declined in the face of fierce opposition.[204]

The arrival of the railroad in the 1850s brought immediate economic benefits to East Tennessee, primarily to Chattanooga, which had been founded in 1839. Chattanooga quickly developed into a nexus between the mountain communities of Southern Appalachia and the cotton states of the Deep South, being referred to as the Gateway to the Deep South. Chattanooga's strategic position made it one of the most active theaters of the Civil War, as Confederate armies considered the city vital for supply lines between Virginia and the Deep South.[205]

The Civil War[edit]

June 1861 Ordinance of Secession vote in East Tennessee. Counties shaded in maroon rejected secession by an 80% or greater margin. Counties in red rejected secession by a 51% to 79% margin. Counties in gray voted for secession. Counties in white didn't yet exist or their results are unknown.

The Civil War sentiments of East Tennessee were among the most complex of any region in the nation. Whig support ran high in East Tennessee (especially in Knox and surrounding counties) in the years leading up to the war, as many people in the region were suspicious of the aristocratic Southern planter class that dominated the Southern Democratic party and most southern state legislatures. When Tennessee voted on a referendum calling for secession in February 1861, more than 80% of East Tennesseans voted against it, including majorities in every county except Sullivan and Meigs. In June 1861, nearly 70% of East Tennesseans voted against the Ordinance of Secession (which succeeded statewide), although along with Sullivan and Meigs, there were pro-secession majorities in Monroe, Rhea, Sequatchie, and Polk counties.[206] There were also pro-secession majorities within the cities of Knoxville and Chattanooga, although these cities' respective counties voted decisively against secession.[205][207]

In June 1861, the Unionist East Tennessee Convention met in Greeneville, where it drafted a petition to the Tennessee state legislature demanding that East Tennessee be allowed to form a separate Union-aligned state split off from the rest of Tennessee (à la West Virginia).[206] The legislature rejected the petition, however, and Tennessee Governor Isham Harris ordered Confederate troops to occupy East Tennessee. Senator Andrew Johnson and Congressman Horace Maynard— who in spite of being from a Confederate state retained their seats in Congress— continuously pressed President Abraham Lincoln to send troops into East Tennessee, and Lincoln subsequently made the liberation of East Tennessee a top priority. Knoxville Whig editor William "Parson" Brownlow, who had been one of slavery's most outspoken defenders, attacked secessionism with equal fervor, and embarked on a speaking tour of the Northern states to rally support for East Tennessee.[208] Union troops did not secure Knoxville until late 1863, however, and Chattanooga was only secured after a series of bloody campaigns late in the same year in a pivotal moment for the Civil War, which came to be known as the Chattanooga Campaign.

Progressive Era[edit]

Millworkers in Chattanooga, photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine in 1910

After the Civil War, northern capitalists began investing heavily in East Tennessee, helping the region's ravaged economy recover. Knoxville and Chattanooga experienced manufacturing booms, and their populations grew exponentially. Other cities in the region, such as Lenoir City, Harriman, Rockwood, Dayton, and Englewood, were founded as company towns during this period. In 1899, the world's first Coca-Cola bottling plant was built in Chattanooga.[205] In the early 1900s, railroad and sawmill innovations allowed logging firms such as the Little River Lumber Company and Babock Lumber to harvest the virgin forests of the Great Smokies and adjacent ranges. The Burra Burra Mine— established in the 1890s in the Ducktown Basin— was at its height one of the nation's largest copper mining operations.[209] Coal mining operations were established in coal-rich areas of the Cumberland Plateau, namely in Scott County, northern Campbell County, and western Anderson County. In the early 1890s, Tennessee's controversial convict lease system sparked a miners' uprising in Anderson County that became known as the Coal Creek War. While the uprising was eventually crushed, it induced the state to do away with convict leasing, making Tennessee the first southern state to end the controversial practice.[210]

Other ambitious ventures during the period included the construction of Ocoee Dam No. 1 and Hales Bar Dam (completed in 1911 and 1913 respectively) by the forerunners of the Tennessee Electric Power Company (TEPCO).[211] In the 1920s, Tennessee Eastman— destined to become the state's largest employer— was established in Kingsport, and in nearby Elizabethton the German-owned Bemberg Corporation built two large rayon mills.[212] Equally ambitious was the Aluminum Company of America's establishment of a massive aluminum smelting operation at what is now Alcoa in 1914, which required the construction of a large plant and company town and the building of a series of dams along the Little Tennessee River to supply the plant with hydroelectric power.[213]

The Great Depression and World War II[edit]

Norris Dam under construction in the mid-1930s

Over a period of two decades, the Tennessee Valley Authority, created in 1933 at the height of the Great Depression, drastically altered the economic, cultural, and physical landscape of East Tennessee. TVA sought to build a series of dams across the Tennessee River watershed to control flooding, bring cheap electricity to East Tennessee, and connect Knoxville and Chattanooga to the nation's inland waterways by creating a continuously navigable channel along the entirety of the Tennessee River. Starting with Norris Dam in 1933, the agency built 10 dams in East Tennessee (and five more across the border in North Carolina and Georgia) over a period of two decades. Melton Hill and Nickajack were added in the 1960s, and the last, Tellico Dam, was completed in 1979 after a contentious five-year legal battle with environmentalists.[214] TVA also gained control of TEPCO's assets after a legal struggle in the 1930s with TEPCO president Jo Conn Guild and attorney Wendell Willkie that was eventually dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court.[215]

East Tennessee's physiographic layout and rural nature made it the ideal location for the uranium enrichment facilities of the Manhattan Project— the federal government's top secret World War II-era initiative to build the atomic bomb. Starting in 1942, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built what is now the city of Oak Ridge, and the following year work began on the enrichment facilities, K-25 and Y-12.[4] During the same period, Tennessee Eastman built the Holston Ordnance Works in Kingsport for the manufacture of an explosive known as Composition B.[216] The ALCOA corporation, seeking to meet the wartime demand for aluminum (which was needed for aircraft construction), built its North Plant, which at the time of its completion was the world's largest plant under a single roof.[217] To meet the region's skyrocketing demand for electricity, TVA hastened its dam construction, completing Cherokee and Douglas dams in record time, and building the massive Fontana Dam just across the state line in North Carolina.[218]


Banjos on display at the Museum of Appalachia

Appalachian music has evolved from a blend of English and Scottish ballads, Irish and Scottish fiddle tunes, African-American blues, and religious music. In 1916 and 1917, British folklorist Cecil Sharp visited Flag Pond, Sevierville, Harrogate, and other rural areas in the region where he transcribed dozens of examples of "Old World" ballads that had been passed down generation to generation from the region's early English settlers.[219] Uncle Am Stuart, Charlie Bowman, Clarence Ashley, G. B. Grayson, and Theron Hale were among the most successful early musicians from East Tennessee.

In 1927, the Victor Talking Machine Company conducted a series of recording sessions in Bristol that saw the rise of musicians such as Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family. Subsequent recording sessions, such as the Johnson City sessions in 1928 and the Knoxville St. James Sessions in 1930 proved lucrative, but by the late 1930s, the success of the Grand Ole Opry had lured much of the region's talent to Nashville. In the 1940s, the Grand Ole Opry and associated music labels began using "country" instead of "hillbilly" for their genre, hoping to attract a wider audience.[3]


While the mountain springs of East Tennessee and the cooler upper elevations of its mountainous areas have long provided a retreat from the region's summertime heat, much of East Tennessee's tourism industry is a result of land conservation movements in the 1920s and 1930s. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, established in the early 1930s, led to a tourism boom in Blount and Sevier counties, effectively converting the tiny mountain hamlets of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge into resort towns. The Appalachian Trail, one of the world's most well-known hiking trails, was built in the mid-1930s, and passes along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. The Cherokee National Forest was established during the same period, preserving or restoring over 600,000 acres (2,400 km2) of forest land, most notably at Roan Mountain, the Unicoi Mountains (now traversed by the Cherohala Skyway), and along the Ocoee River, which has developed into one of the nation's most popular whitewater rafting areas.[220]

In the early 1930s, entrepreneurs established tourist attractions at Rock City and Ruby Falls on Lookout Mountain, perhaps best known for their unique advertisements painted on barn roofs across the southeast.[221] TVA considered the creation of recreational opportunities along its reservoirs a priority, and reservoirs such as Norris Lake and Chickamauga Lake have since grown into hunting and fishing meccas. The agency was also responsible for the creation of state parks such as Big Ridge State Park and Harrison Bay State Park. Knoxville hosted the 1982 World's Fair, which drew over 11 million visitors, making it one of the most popular world's fairs in history. In the early 1990s, the Tennessee Aquarium— one of the world's largest freshwater aquariums— opened in Chattanooga.[205] The Tennessee Aquarium coincided with the revitalization of Chattanooga's riverfront, which helped to bolster the downtown districts. With the downtown districts joining the other attractions located in Hamilton County, the county surpassed $1 billion in tourism revenue,[222] a first for the large cities in East Tennessee. The city has become an outdoor sports mecca, being heralded as the "Best Town Ever"[223] by Outside magazine.

In popular culture[edit]

East Tennessee culture has been represented in many hit songs, television shows and movies. The Ford Show, which ran on NBC from 1956 until 1961, was hosted by Tennessee Ernie Ford (originally from Bristol).

Davy Crockett[edit]

The Ballad of Davy Crockett helped to popularize the 1955 film Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier. First recorded and introduced on the television series Disneyland in 1954, it has been covered by a number of artists, most notably Tennessee Ernie Ford. The song's lyrics say Crockett was "born on a mountaintop in Tennessee", but his actual birthplace was Limestone, Tennessee, the home of Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park.[224] In addition to his renowned frontier exploits and military service, Crockett served Tennessee as a state legislator and Congressman.

Daniel Boone[edit]

The folk hero Daniel Boone, who helped explore East Tennessee, was honored in the soundtrack for the television series Daniel Boone, which ran from 1964 until 1970.[225][226][227] The last of three versions of the theme song was sung by The Imperials, a Grammy-winning Christian music group.[228][229]


Christy, a 1990s CBS television series, was based on village life in 1910s East Tennessee.[230] The show, which was later developed into a television movie series, featured traditional mountain music.[231][232] "ChristyFest", held each summer, is dedicated to the novel, musical,[233] TV series, and movies, and includes live folk music.[234][235]

Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors[edit]

The television film Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors, aired on NBC in 2015. The film was inspired by her 1971 song and album of the same name, and recounts her childhood in the mountains of Tennessee. The film was generally praised by critics, and received the Tex Ritter Award from the Academy of Country Music.[236]


Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, rural East Tennessee's economy relied heavily on subsistence agriculture. Agriculture still plays a vital role in Tennessee’s economy, such as Grainger County’s renowned tomatoes. In the cities, however, manufacturing was the main source of prosperity and growth. By 2000, just over 1% of the region's population was employed in agriculture or related industries. As of the 2000 census, manufacturing accounted for roughly 20% of region's jobs, with the largest employers being the Tennessee Valley Authority (based in Knoxville with 12,893 full-time workers), Eastman Chemical in Kingsport (10,000 employees), Sea Ray in Knoxville (3,500 employees), Denso Manufacturing in Maryville and Athens (over 3,000 employees), and Pilot Flying J in Knoxville (with over 550 location nationwide). Health and education services accounted for another 20% of the region's jobs, with major employers being Bluecross-Blueshield of Tennessee (4,144 employees), the Baptist Hospital system in Knoxville (4,000 employees), and the Tennessee Department of Health in Chattanooga (4,000 employees). Tourism and recreational industries account for just under 10% of East Tennessee's workforce, the primary attractions being the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (9 million visitors per year), the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga (one million visitors per year), Zoo Knoxville (over 400,000 visitors per year), and historical sites such as the Museum of Appalachia and Rugby. Other significant employers included the Chattanooga trucking firms U.S. Xpress (8,100 employees) and Covenant Transportation (5,000 employees), and the Y-12 facility in Oak Ridge (4,750 employees).[237][238] Mussel shoals in the upper Tennessee River valley, mainly above Knoxville, constitute the only important source of freshwater pearls in the United States.[citation needed]

The Tennessee Valley Authority, with administrative operations headquartered in Knoxville and power operations headquartered in Chattanooga, provides most of the region's electricity via its hydroelectric dams as well as coal-fired plants near Kingston and Rogersville, the Watts Bar Nuclear Generating Station, the Raccoon Mountain Pumped-Storage Plant, and a wind-powered facility atop Buffalo Mountain near Oak Ridge. In recent years, TVA's effectiveness has been debated, with some arguing it saved East Tennessee from a bleak future, and others claiming the agency is a mismanaged, wasteful bureaucracy.[214]

With the expanded smart grid in Chattanooga, and the fastest internet in the Western Hemisphere,[239] Chattanooga has begun to grow its technical and financial sectors due to its burgeoning start-up scene.[240]

Appalachian Regional Commission[edit]

The Appalachian Regional Commission was formed in 1965 to aid economic development in the Appalachian region, which was lagging far behind the rest of the nation on most economic indicators. The Appalachian region currently defined by the Commission includes 420 counties in 13 states, including all counties in East Tennessee. The Commission gives each county one of five possible economic designations— distressed, at-risk, transitional, competitive, or attainment— with "distressed" counties being the most economically endangered and "attainment" counties being the most economically prosperous. These designations are based primarily on three indicators— three-year average unemployment rate, market income per capita, and poverty rate.[241]

In 2003, "Appalachian" Tennessee— which included all of East Tennessee and the easternmost counties in Middle Tennessee— had a three-year average unemployment rate of 4.9%, compared with 5.6% statewide and 5.5% nationwide. In 2002, Appalachian Tennessee had a per capita market income of $19,936, compared with $20,422 statewide and $26,420 nationwide. In 2000, Appalachian Tennessee had a poverty rate of 14.2%, compared to 13.6% statewide and 12.4% nationwide. In 2014, ten East Tennessee counties— Bledsoe, Campbell, Cocke, Greene, Hancock, Johnson, Meigs, Monroe, Scott, and Van Buren— were designated "distressed," while eleven— Carter, Claiborne, Cumberland, Grainger, Jefferson, McMinn, Morgan, Polk, Rhea, Unicoi, and Union— were designated "at-risk." No counties in East Tennessee were given the "competitive" or "attainment" designations, and the remaining 12 counties were designated "transitional". Hancock had East Tennessee's highest poverty rating, with 29.4% of its residents living below the poverty line. Knox had East Tennessee's highest per capita income ($25,999) and the lowest unemployment rate (2.8%), although Hamilton was a close second on both of these indicators.[241]

Higher education[edit]

The region's major public universities are the Knoxville and Chattanooga campuses of the University of Tennessee and East Tennessee State University in Johnson City. Private four-year institutions include Bryan College, Carson–Newman University, King University, Lee University, Lincoln Memorial University, Maryville College, Milligan College, Johnson University, Tennessee Wesleyan University, and Tusculum University. Several public community colleges and vocational/technical schools also are located in the region, such as Northeast State Community College in Blountville, Walters State Community College in Morristown, Pellissippi State Community College near Knoxville, Chattanooga State Community College, and Cleveland State Community College. The Tennessee College of Applied Technology has several campuses across the area.

The University of Tennessee's athletic teams, nicknamed the "Volunteers," or "Vols", are the region's most popular sports teams, and constitute a multimillion-dollar industry.[242] The university's football team plays at Neyland Stadium, one of the nation's largest stadiums.[243] Neyland is flanked by the Thompson–Boling Arena, which has broken several attendance records for college men's and women's basketball.[244]


East Tennessee vote
by party in presidential elections [245]
Year REP DEM Others
2016[246] 69.26% 638,260 25.96% 239,241 4.78% 44,086
2012[247] 68.00% 602,623 30.22% 267,804 1.78% 15,760
2008[248] 65.28% 610,413 33.22% 310,586 1.50% 14,021
2004[249] 63.91% 573,626 35.33% 317,150 0.76% 6,783
2000[250] 58.34% 449,014 40.00% 307,924 1.66% 12,772

East Tennessee is one of the few regions in the South that have consistently voted Republican since the Civil War. The state's 1st and 2nd congressional districts, anchored in the Tri-Cities and Knoxville respectively, are among the few ancestrally Republican regions in the South. The 1st has been held by Republicans or their predecessors without interruption since 1881, and for all but four years since 1859. The 2nd has been in the hands of Republicans or their predecessors since 1855. Until the 1950s, congressmen from the 1st and 2nd Districts were among the few truly senior Republican congressmen from the South. Historically, Democrats were more competitive in the Chattanooga-based 3rd district, but recent trends have made it almost as staunchly Republican as the 1st and 2nd districts.

East Tennessee Republican leanings are rooted in its antebellum Whig sentiments (historian O.P. Temple actually traces this sentiment back to the anti-aristocratic Covenanters of Scotland).[251] As in much of Southern Appalachia, the region's yeoman farmers clashed with the large-scale planters and business interests that controlled the Democratic Party and dominated most southern state legislatures. East Tennesseans revered the likes of John Sevier and Davy Crockett, and were drawn to the political philosophies of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster.[251] They tended to reject the policies of the Southern Democrats, who were deemed "aristocratic" (Andrew Jackson's popularity in the Chattanooga area— which he helped open to European-American settlement— created a stronger Democratic base in southeastern Tennessee, however). In the early 1840s, then-state senator Andrew Johnson actually introduced a bill in the state legislature that would have created a separate state in East Tennessee.[252]

While the Whigs disintegrated in the 1850s, East Tennesseans continued their opposition to Southern Democrats with the Opposition Party and the Constitutional Union Party, the latter capturing the state's electoral votes in 1860. Pro-Union sentiment during the Civil War (which was reinforced by the Confederate army's occupation of the region) evolved into support for President Lincoln. The congressmen from the 1st and 2nd districts were the only congressmen who did not resign when Tennessee seceded. The residents of those districts immediately identified with the Republicans after hostilities ceased and have supported the GOP, through good times and bad, ever since.

The Radical Republican post-war policies of Governor William "Parson" Brownlow greatly polarized the state along party lines, with East Tennesseans mostly supporting Brownlow and Middle and West Tennesseans mostly rejecting him. The Southern Democrats regained control of the state government in the early 1870s, but Republican sentiment remained solid in East Tennessee, especially in the 1st and 2nd Districts. By the 1880s, the state's Democrats had an unwritten agreement with the state's Republicans whereby Republicans would split presidential patronage of Republican presidencies with the Democrats so long as the Democrats allowed them continued influence in state affairs.[253]

In 1888, Pennsylvania-born Henry Clay Evans was elected to the congressional seat for the 3rd District (the Chattanooga area). Evans, who rejected compromise and the splitting of presidential patronage with the state's Democrats, strongly supported a bill that would have turned over control of state elections to the federal government. In response, the state legislature gerrymandered the 3rd District, ensuring Evans' defeat in 1890.[253] After 1901, more than a half-century passed without the state legislature redistricting, in spite of population shifts. In 1959, Memphis resident Charles Baker sued the legislature in hopes of forcing it to redraw the districts, culminating in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Baker v. Carr.[254] In the decades after this case, the 3rd and 4th districts have been redrawn several times, most recently in 2002 when the boundaries were shifted to make the 3rd more Republican and the 4th more Democratic.[255] After the 2010 elections and the redistricting before 2012, though, the Republicans in control of the state government solidified the Republican lean of both the 3rd and 4th Districts to the point that barring a national Democratic landslide, neither district will likely support a Democrat again for the foreseeable future.


  1. ^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
  2. ^ Official records for Chattanooga kept at the Weather Bureau downtown from January 1879 to June 1940 and at Lovell Field since July 1940.[11]
  3. ^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
  4. ^ Official records for Knoxville kept January 1871 to February 1942 at downtown and at McGhee Tyson Airport since March 1942. For more information, see Threadex


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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°54′N 84°06′W / 35.9°N 84.1°W / 35.9; -84.1