Catch up on your trivia with these Tennessee history firsts and fun facts.
36.17155 N, 086.78482 W
June 01, 1796
Number of Counties
95 Counties in Tennessee
Largest County (by population)
755 sq mi.
Tennessee History Firsts &
1772 - Watauga Association at Sycamore Shoals near Elizabethton drafted the first constitution ever written by white men in America in
1772. It was patterned after the constitution of the Iroquois League of Nations, a federal system of government developed 200 years earlier for five
eastern Native American tribes.
1796 - When Tennessee became a state in 1796, the total population was 77,000.
1807 - City of Kingston served as Tennessee's state capital for one day (September 21, 1807) as a result of treaties negotiated with the
Cherokee Indians. The two-hour legislative session passed two resolutions and adjourned back to Knoxville.
1811 - Largest earthquake in American history, the New Madrid Earthquake, occurred in the winter of 1811-12 in Tennessee. Reelfoot Lake
and Lake Counties were created during this earthquake.
1812 - Tennessee won its nickname as The Volunteer State during the War of 1812 when volunteer
soldiers from Tennessee displayed marked valor in the Battle of New Orleans.
1870's - Jubilee Singers of Fisk University in Nashville introduced to the world the plaintive beauty and tradition of the Negro spiritual,
which became the basis for other genres of African-American music. It was because of their successful tours to raise funds for the university during
the 1870s that Nashville first became known for its music.
1878 - Hattie Caraway (1878-1950) born in Bakersville became the first woman United States Senator.
1881 - Iroquois, bred at Nashville's Belle Meade Plantation, was the first American winner of the English Derby in 1881. Such modern thoroughbreds
as Secretariat trace their bloodlines to Iroquois.
1899 - Coca-Cola was first bottle in 1899 at a plant on Patten Parkway in downtown Chattanooga after two local attorneys purchased the
bottling rights to the drink for $l.00.
1900 - Legendary railroad engineer Casey Jones, who was killed when his train crashed on April 30, 1900, lived in Jackson, Tennessee. Today
there is a museum in his honor located in Jackson.
1940 - Oak Ridge, the secret city created in the 1940s, was instrumental in the development of the atomic bomb. Today, because of constant
energy research, it is known as the "Energy Capital of the World." It is the home of the American Museum of Science and Energy.
1941 - Gary Cooper won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Tennessee war hero Alvin York in the 1941 hit movie, Sergeant York.
World War I hero Sgt. Alvin C. York was born in Pall Mall.
The Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) was designated as Tennessee State Evergreen tree
2013 - The University of Tennessee Botanical Gardens is Tennessee State Botanical garden
"Sandy," Mississippian stone statuary is Tennessee State Artifact
Dogs and cats that are adopted from Tennessee animal shelters and rescues Tennessee State Pet
Watauga Valley Fife and Drum Corps was designated as Tennessee State Fife and drum corps
More Tennessee History Firsts & State Facts
On a clear day seven states are visible from Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga.
Bluegrass music originated in Bristol, in northeastern Tennessee.
The first guide dog for the blind in the US lived in Nashville with her owner Morris Frank. "Buddy" was trained in Switzerland by The Seeing Eye,
the first organization to train guide dogs.
More Civil War battles were fought in Tennessee than in any other state except Virginia.
The only monument in the United States honoring both the Union and Confederate armies is located in Greenville at the Green County Courthouse.
Samuel Carter of Elizabethton was the only person in American history to be both an Admiral in the Navy and a General in the Army.
Andrew Johnson held every elective office at the local, state, and federal level, including President of the United States. He served as alderman,
mayor, state representative, and state senator from Greeneville. He served as governor and military governor of Tennessee and the United States congressman,
senator, and vice president, becoming President of the US after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
The Alex Haley boyhood home in Henning is the first state-owned historic site devoted to African Americans in Tennessee. It was here that the
family history handed down by Haley's grandmother and aunts inspired him to write about his ancestors who had been brought to America as slaves.
Tennessee has more than 3,800 documented caves. The Guinness Book of World Records lists the "Lost Sea" in Sweetwater as the largest underground
lake in the US
Andrew Johnson held every elective office at the local, state, and federal level, including President of the United States. He was elected alderman,
mayor, state representative, and state senator from Greeneville. He served as governor and military governor of Tennessee and United States congressman,
senator, and vice president, becoming President of the United States following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Actress-singer Polly Bergen, from Knoxville, is the first woman to serve on the Board of Directors of the Singer Sewing Machine Company.
The Copper Basin is so different from the surrounding area it has been seen and is recognizable by American astronauts. The stark landscape was
caused by 19th-century mining practices.
There were more National Guard soldiers deployed from the state for the Gulf War effort than any other state.
There are more horses per capita in Shelby County than any other county in the United States.
The only person in American history to be both an Admiral in the Navy and a General in the Army was Samuel Powhatan Carter who was born in Elizabethton.
Greeneville has the only monument in the United States honoring both the Union and Confederate armies. It is located on the lawn of the Green
The city of Murfreesboro lies in the exact geographical center of the state.
Grinders Switch, entertainer Minnie Pearl's fictitious hometown, is now an entertainment complex in her real hometown of Centerville.
Conifer forests similar to those in Canada are found in the higher elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Davy Crockett was not born on a mountaintop in Tennessee, as the song says. He was born on the banks of Limestone Creek near Greeneville, where
a replica of the Crockett's log cabin stands today.
The Tennessee Aquarium is the largest facility of its kind to focus on fresh water habitat. It features 7,000 animals and 300 species of fish,
birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals.
Reputed "Turtle Capital of the World," Reelfoot Lake also features thousands of sliders, stinkpots, mud and map turtles.
Tennessee has more than 3,800 documented caves.
The Alex Haley boyhood home in Henning is the first state-owned historic site devoted to African Americans in Tennessee.
Bristol is known as the Birthplace of Country Music.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. The park was named for the smoke-like bluish haze
that often envelops these fabled mountains.
Elvis Presley's home called Graceland is located in Memphis. Graceland is the second most visited house in the country.
Tennessee was the last state to secede from the Union during the Civil War and the first state to be readmitted after the war.
The nation's oldest African-American architectural firm, McKissack and McKissack, is located in Nashville.
The nation's oldest African-American financial institution, Citizens Savings Bank and Trust Company, is located in Nashville.
Robert R. Church, Sr. of Memphis is purported to be the South's first African-American millionaire.
The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis is at the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was slain in 1968. The museum preserves
the motel and tells the history of the American Civil Rights Movement.
A replica of The Parthenon, the famous ancient Greek building in Athens, Greece, stands in Nashville's Centennial Park.
The "Guinness Book of World Records" lists the Lost Sea in Sweetwater as the largest underground lake in the United States.
The Cherokee silversmith, Sequoyah, was the only known man in the history of the world to single-handedly develop an alphabet. His syllabus for
the Cherokee Nation resulted in the first written language for a Native American people. The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum in Vonore tells his story
and is dedicated to the history and culture of Native Americans.
The capitol building was designed by noted architect William Strickland, who died during its construction and is buried within its walls.
Tennessee ranks number one among other states in the total number of soldiers who fought in the War Between the States.
Tennesseeans are sometimes referred to as Butternuts, a tag which was first applied to Tennessee soldiers during the Civil War because of the
tan color of their uniforms.
The name "Tennessee" originated from the old Yuchi Indian word, "Tana-see," meaning "The Meeting Place."
Tennessee ties with Missouri as the most neighborly state in the union. It is bordered by 8 states.
Dolly Parton is a native of Sevierville. A major highway, the Dolly Parton Parkway, takes visitors traveling to the Great Smoky Mountains National
The world's largest artificial skiing surface is located at the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort in Gatlinburg. There a 5-acre artificial ski surface
permits skiing in any type of weather.
Cumberland University, located in Lebanon, lost a football game to Georgia Tech on October 7, 1916 by a score of 222 to 0. The Georgia Tech coach
was George Heisman for whom the Heisman Trophy is named.
Cotton made Memphis a major port on the Mississippi River. The Memphis Cotton Exchange still handles approximately one-third of the entire American
cotton crop each year.