78 Fun & Interesting Facts About Tennessee

Are you ready to discover a state filled with music, mountains, and lots of history? Let’s take an adventure to Tennessee, a place where every corner has a story to tell, from the high peaks of the Smoky Mountains to the vibrant streets of Nashville and Memphis. So, grab your hiking boots and your guitar, and let’s find out what makes Tennessee so special with these facts about Tennessee!

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First off, did you know that Tennessee is known as the birthplace of country music? That’s right! Cities like Nashville and Memphis are famous for their music scenes. Nashville is even called “Music City” because it’s home to the Grand Ole Opry, where many famous singers started their careers. Imagine listening to live music under the bright lights of a big stage!

Tennessee is also home to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the most visited national parks in the United States. These mountains are full of beautiful forests, waterfalls, and trails. It’s a perfect place for an adventure in the great outdoors, whether you’re hiking, camping, or just enjoying the amazing views.

And here’s a fun fact about Tennessee: it’s played a big role in the invention of many things we use today, like soft drinks. Yep, the world’s first bottled Coca-Cola was made in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It’s cool to think that something we drink all the time started right here in Tennessee!

Are you excited to learn more facts about Tennessee? From its foot-tapping music to its breathtaking mountains and innovative history, there’s so much to explore and discover in this amazing state. Let’s dive in and uncover all the incredible things that make Tennessee a place full of wonders and joy!

Be sure to discover even more interesting facts with our Facts about Missouri and our Facts about Mississippi.

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Facts about Tennessee

  1. Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State because of its high number of volunteers during the War of 1812, specifically at the Battle of New Orleans.
  2. The creator of the world-famous Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel died after angrily kicking a safe and hurting his toe, leading to a blood infection that would be his demise.
  3. The state has a total land area of 42,143 mi² (109,247 km²), making it the 36th largest state, sitting between Virginia and Kentucky in terms of size.
  4. Reelfoot Lake, located in Lake and Obion counties, was created by a series of violent earthquakes on the New Madrid fault zone in late 1811 and early 1812.
  5. The first European person to set foot in the area known as Tennessee was Hernando de Soto. His expedition landed at Tampa Bay in 1540.
  6. Great Smoky Mountains National Park had a staggering total of 13,297,647 visitors in 2023 – deeming it the most visited National Park in the United States. 
  7. Tennessee was home to the Cherokee and Chickasaw tribes for centuries before William Bean (the first European settler) arrived in 1769. The state’s name, meaning “where the river bends,” was likely derived from a Cherokee word.
  8. The first permanent European settlement of Tennessee was a small village of English settlers which eventually became Johnson City.
  9. Tennessee State University is a popular choice for higher education among students nationwide. Its campus is spread out over 500 acres of land in Nashville.
  10. The state flag features a blue circle containing three white stars on a red background. The stars represent Tennessee’s geographical divisions (East, Middle, and West Tennessee). The flag also includes a navy blue bar in order to give the flag distinction when it hangs limp.
  11. Slavery was initially legal in the state.
  12. Greeneville, TN has the only monument in the country dedicated to both Union and Confederate soldiers.
  13. Bonnaroo in Manchester takes place on over 500 acres of farmland making it one of the largest festivals in the world.
  14. Tennessee is almost the same size as Cuba.
  15. There are 56 state parks in Tennessee, the largest of which is the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park, while one of the most popular and visited is Fall Creek Falls State Park.
  16. In 1807, Kingston was named the state capital for one day. That’s because the general assembly met there to fulfill a treaty obligation made with the Cherokee, according to the state encyclopedia.  
  17. Chattanooga was home to the first patented miniature golf course, Tom Thumb Golf on Lookout Mountain. It was created in 1927 to attract traffic to the creator’s hotel.
  18. Nashville is named “Athens of the South” because of its dedication to higher learning, although many think it’s because its state capitol is of the Greek-revival style, and is a tower rather than a dome like most others.
  19. Before the arrival of the Europeans in the state, the land was settled by the Cherokee and Chickasaw Native American tribes.
  20. The country’s largest underground lake, called the Lost Sea, is found in Sweetwater, Tennessee.
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  1. Tennessee has over 9,200 caves and caverns.
  2. Famous symbols of Tennessee include the iconic flag, whose 3 white stars represent the 3 grand divisions of Tennessee– East, Middle, and West.
  3. Tennessee has some weird speed limits. It’s 19 mph in some areas of Collierville and 31 mph in some areas of Trenton.
  4. While Tennessee officially became a state in 1776, it took on many geographical forms, its land partially annexed by North Carolina and the Southwest Territory, and part of its land becoming the now non-existent State of Franklin.
  5. The Tennessee Walking Horse is a generally calm horse popular among farmers. The horse gets its name, in part, from the state where it was first bred. The other half of its name comes from the unique way the horse moves, which has been described as a “running walk.”
  6. Despite popular beliefs, Coca-Cola was bottled for the first time in Vicksburg, Miss. However, the first bottling rights were purchased for $1.00 in Chattanooga, which was home to the first bottling facility.
  7. Clingmans Dome is the state’s highest point, at 6,643 ft (2,025 m), while the Mississippi River on the border with Mississippi is the lowest, at 178 ft (54 m).
  8. The gross domestic product (GDP) of Tennessee is over 310 billion. The Volunteer State is focused on different sectors such as health care, finance, automotive, chemical, music, electronics, tourism sectors, and agriculture — mainly on cattle, soybeans, corn, poultry, and cotton. 
  9. About 100 miles away from Nashville stood the world’s tallest treehouse in the town of Crossville. A major tourist attraction, the structure stood at 97 feet tall. Unfortunately, it burned to the ground in 2019.
  10. Oak Ridge, TN is known as the Energy Capital of the World for its work on the atomic bomb and continuing research into energy usage.
  11. The all-time highest temperature ever recorded in Tennessee was a whopping 113°F (45°C) in Perryville on August 9, 1930, while the lowest was a freezing -32°F (-35.6°C) in Mountain City on December 30, 1917.
  12. State tourism slogans for Tennessee have included “Tennessee – America at its best”, “The Stage is set for you”, and “We’re playing your song”, referring to the state’s important music scene.
  13. A whale is the only animal you’re allowed to hunt from a moving vehicle in Tennessee.
  14. Tennessee has no income tax, but high state and local sales taxes.
  15. Tennessee is long and skinny – some say it is shaped like a cigar. It is 440 mi (710 km) from east to west and only 112 mi (180 km) from north to south.
  16. Tennessee is the birthplace of the tow truck by Ernest Holmes, of Chatanooga in 1916. 
  17. The world’s largest teapot collection is in the council chambers of the Trenton City Hall, with over 525 rare pots donated by Dr. Frederick C. Freed.
  18. Due to poor living standards in Tennessee from 1915 to 1930, many people migrated to other areas of the country. In history, this time was known as the Great Migration.
  19. Milk is the official state beverage (the same as 20 other U.S. states) while the official state fruit of Tennessee is the tomato.
  20. Over 50 percent of Tennessee residents say they are “very religious”, making it the sixth most religious place to be in the nation, safely securing its spot in the bible belt.
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  1. The first “combination” candy bar was created in Nashville in 1912. Called the Goo-Goo Cluster, it is a candy bar that contains marshmallow nougat, caramel, and peanut and is considered Nashville’s official candy.
  2. You can see a full-size replica of the Greek Parthenon at Centennial Park in Nashville. Or, admire the Eiffel Tower (built at 1:20 scale) located in Paris, Tennessee. 
  3. Tennessee was the birthplace of Senator Hattie Caraway, the first elected woman to serve a full term in the U.S. Senate in 1932. In 1938 Caraway won reelection, defeating segregationist politician John Little McClellan.
  4. Don’t head to the arcade in Nashville until you’re at least 18. You must be at least that old to play pinball, as it’s legally considered a coin-operated gaming machine.
  5. Nissan’s assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee is one of the largest in North America, with the capacity to produce 640,000 cars annually.
  6. Tennessee became a member of the Confederate States of America (CSA) in June 1861.
  7. Farms take up a large portion of the state’s territory. Over 77,000 farms are situated on nearly 11 million acres of land. Which means about 40% of Tennessee is farmland.
  8. More than 40% of Tennesseans carry some form of personal protection including a stun gun or pepper spray.
  9. The state of Tennessee gets its name from the Yuchi Indian word “Tana-see.” This word means “the meeting place.”
  10. Selling hollow logs in the state is technically illegal.
  11. Before Piggly Wiggly started letting customers do the shopping for themselves in 1916 in Memphis, there was no such thing as a self-service grocery store.
  12.  A lot of places claim they invented Mountain Dew, but according to the company, the neon syrupy goodness was first created in Knoxville in the ’30s as a new drink to mix with whiskey.
  13. Nashville is the capital of Tennessee. With a population of 715,000, it is the 21st largest city in the country.
  14. There’s a law against carrying a skunk across the Tennessee state border.
  15. The world’s largest cedar bucket is in Murfreesboro, capable of holding 1,566 gallons. That’s 16,704 cans of Coke, enough to last 45 years at one can a day. 
  16. Tennessee provided more soldiers to the Union than all Confederate states combined. Around 31,000 Tennesseans joined the federal forces, according to the state encyclopedia. 
  17. In 1909, the state banned liquor production for the next year.
  18. According to some sources, Tennessee was named after the Tennessee River, which was named for the Indian word “Tanasie,” the name of a Cherokee village.
  19. Knoxville built an impressive structure known as the Sunsphere when it hosted the 1982 World’s Fair. 
  20. Tennessee Aquarium is home to the largest freshwater aquarium in the entire world, with over 7,000 animals housed in the entire complex.
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  1. Despite having childhood polio and scarlet fever (which caused infantile paralysis), African-American Tennessee sprinter Wilma Rudolph won 3 Gold Medals in the 1960 Rome Olympics, plus a Bronze in the 1956 Olympics. 
  2. By 1862, after several important battles within Tennessee including the Battle of Shiloh and the Battle of Stones River, the Union Army successfully occupied a majority of the state, while struggling to hold the eastern part of the state.
  3. Typically the temperature range in the state stays within the 40-degree to 85-degree range, with some variations depending on location. The hottest temperature on record was 113 degrees in 1930.
  4. The song “Tennessee Waltz” is popular and lovely country music. Due to its popularity, it became one of the official songs of the state of Tennessee, listed in 1965.
  5. Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort has the world’s largest artificial skiing surface, with over five acres of skiing, regardless of the weather.
  6. The Memphis Cotton Exchange handles roughly one-third of the United States’ entire cotton crop.
  7. In Tennessee, it’s against the law for students to hold hands while at school as this is considered a “gateway” sexual activity.
  8. People from Tennessee are called Volunteers, Big Benders, or Tennesseans.
  9. Tennessee resident Garnet Carter got the first mini golf patent in 1927 for his Tom Thumb golf courses. 
  10. Nashville, the largest city in Tennessee, was founded on Christmas Eve in 1779.
  11. A total of seven states are visible from Rock City Point on Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, making it one of the most interesting places to visit in Tennessee.
  12. Tennessee is tied with Missouri for the state with the most borders. The states surrounding Tennessee include Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and Missouri.
  13. In 1865, Tennessee became the first state to leave the Confederacy and officially rejoin the Union.
  14. The Johnny Cash Museum is one of the most visited landmarks in Tennessee and is a popular place to visit on a weekend in Nashville. 
  15. The Tennessee River is one of the biggest tributaries in the country. It is roughly 1,049 km or 652 miles long, located in the southeastern United States in the Tennessee Valley. 
  16. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed outside the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. The motel has now been preserved as the American Civil Rights Museum.
  17. Theodore Roosevelt coined the phrase “good to the last drop” after tasting a cup of coffee at the Maxwell House Hotel.
  18. An old nickname for Tennessee was “Hog and Hominy” state, referring to its production of pork and corn. Another was “The Mother of Southwestern Statesmen” because it has produced three U.S. presidents and several other politicians.

Do you have even more interesting facts about Tennessee? Share them with us in the comments! 

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