97 Tennessee Facts and Weird Laws

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Tennessee became the 16th state of the Union in 1796.

Tennessee outperformed all the states in 2020 in tourism with $16.8 Billion in Visitor spending even during Covid-19. The most visited National Park of the United States is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.

Are you thinking of visiting or moving to Tennessee? You may want to know these facts before you visit.

Let’s learn some fun Tennessee facts you may not know.

Be sure to check out the top 10 weird laws in Tennessee at the end.

Best Fun Facts About Tennessee

  1. Popular soft drink “Mountain Dew” was originally developed in 1940 by Tennessee beverage bottlers Barney and Ally Hartman.
  2. The delicious confection named “Moon Pie” was made by Chattanooga Bakery, Inc. in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1917.
  3. Another sweet fluffy delight named “Cotton Candy” was introduced by dentist William Morrison and confectioner John C. Wharton from Nashville, in 1897.
  4. Famous activist and American Baptist minister Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in Memphis city on April 4, 1968.
  5. The “Secret City”, Oak Ridge, is a city in Tennessee. It was founded in 1942 and was kept segregated from the world to carry out Scientific research and development.
  6. Tennessee was once home to the capital of the Cherokee Nation. 
  7. Country music or folk music was originated in Bristol, Tennessee. The term Hillbilly music was used in this genre before the 1940s.

Tennessee Facts—Politics And Government

  1. 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.
  2. Hattie Caraway (1878-1950) born in Bakersville became the first woman United States Senator.
  3. The 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.
  4. Tennessee State Capitol, Nashville, Tennessee, USA. This building, built with Greek Revival style in 1845, is now the home of the Tennessee legislature and governor’s office. 
  5. The current governor of Tennessee is Bill Lee, a member of the Republican Party, who took office on January 19, 2019.
  6. Donald Trump won Tennessee’s eight congressional districts by double digits in the 2020 presidential election.
  7. In the last presidential election, the majority of Tennessee voters chose Trump over Biden.

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Credit: WBUR

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Tennessee Facts—History

  1. The 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Tennessee ranks number one among other states in the total number of soldiers who fought in the War Between the States.
  6. There were more National Guard soldiers deployed from the state for the Gulf War effort than any other state.
  7. Samuel Powhatan Carter was the only person in American history to be both an Admiral in the Navy and a General in the Army, he was born in Elizabethton.
  8. 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.
  9. The legendary railroad engineer Casey Jones, who was killed when his train crashed on April 30, 1900, lived in Jackson.
  10. Tennessee was the last state to secede from the Union during the Civil War and the first state to be readmitted after the war.
  11. Robert R. Church, Sr. of Memphis is purported to be the South’s first African-American millionaire.
  12. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was slain in 1968 at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. The museum preserves the motel and tells the history of the American Civil Rights Movement.
  13. 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 the Native American people. The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum in Vonore tells his story and is dedicated to the history and culture of Native Americans.
  14. The capitol building was designed by noted architect William Strickland, who died during its construction and is buried within its walls.
  15. The Ocoee River in southeastern Tennessee is rated among the top white water recreational rivers in the nation and was the site for the Olympic white water canoe/kayak competition in the 1996 Olympics.
  16. The name “Tennessee” originated from the old Yuchi Indian word, “Tana-see,” meaning “The Meeting Place.”
  17. 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.
  18. Three groups of Native Americans lived in the Tennessee region. Cherokee claimed Middle Tennessee for hunting, Chickasaw lived in West Tennessee, and Creek lived in the southeastern region.
  19. First visited by the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1540, the Tennessee area would later be claimed by both France and England as a result of the 1670s and 1680s explorations of Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, Sieur de la Salle, and James Needham and Gabriel Arthur. Great Britain obtained the area after the French and Indian Wars in 1763.
  20. In 1769 Tennessee saw its first ‘settlement’ when William Bean built his cabin on Boone’s Creek near the Watauga River and several families from North Carolina joined him.
  21. “The Volunteer State” nickname originated during the War of 1812, in which the volunteer soldiers from Tennessee serving under Gen. Andrew Jackson displayed marked valor in the Battle of New Orleans.
  22. The Cherokees in 1828 were not nomadic savages. They had assimilated many European-style customs, including the wearing of gowns made by Cherokee women. They built roads, schools, and churches had a system of representational government and were farmers and cattle ranchers. A Cherokee alphabet, the “Talking Leaves” was developed by Sequoyah.

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Cherokee. Credit: slate.com
  1. In 1835 an Indian Treaty was signed which resulted in the “Trail of Tears.” Cherokee Indians were marched a thousand miles to reservations in Oklahoma. About 4,000 Cherokee died as a result of the removal.
  2. The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville is the longest continuously running live radio program in the world. It has been broadcast every weekend since 1925.
  3.  The largest earthquake in American history, the New Madrid Earthquake, occurred in the winter of 1811-12 in Tennessee. Reelfoot Lake was formed during this earthquake.
  4. 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.
  5. Tennessee is the home of Mountain Dew, which was originally created as a soda to mix with whiskey.
  6. Ernest Holmes of Chattanooga invented the tow truck in 1916. This place also has the world’s largest tow truck factory. The town has the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame Museum to preserve its history and honor its champions.
  7. Josephine Myrtle Corbin, a four-legged woman born in Tennessee in 1868 had two pelvises side by side. She married, had kids, and died unfortunately because of a leg infection.
  8. Did you know that the two attorneys from Chattanooga, Tennessee built a business around bottling Coca-Cola and obtained the right for the same for $1? This was the first attempt to bottle the beverage which was until then sold through fountains for 5 cents a glass in 1886.
  9. Wilma Rudolph, an African-American sprinter from Tennessee, won three gold medals in the 1960 Olympic Games in Track and Field. She suffered from several childhood illnesses including pneumonia, scarlet fever, and polio (infantile paralysis) at the age of five. However, with her strong determination, and the support of the doctors and her family, she was able to walk unassisted once again, and compete and win medals in the Olympics.
  10. Oprah Winfrey studied in Tennessee. While she was still a student at Tennessee State University, Oprah Winfrey got her start as the first female African-American news anchor at Nashville’s WLAC-TV.
  11. 8 battles during the Civil War were fought on the soil of Tennessee
  12. By about 1860, one in four people in Tennessee were slaves. Slavery at the time was a very harsh system in the society and the slaves had few legal rights.
  13. Before the arrival of the Europeans in the state, Tennessee was settled by the Cherokee and Chickasaw Native American tribes.
  14. It is an interesting fact to note here that the grave of the 11th president of the United States (James K. Polk) is not in some national monument or a cemetery, but it lies on the grounds of the state’s capital. Both the president and his wife were buried at Polk Palace but their remains were subsequently transferred to the grounds of Tennessee State Capitol in 1893.
  15. The Lost Sea, in nearby Sweetwater, TN is the largest underwater lake in America.
  16. Earthquakes in the winter of 1811-12 lead to the formation of Reelfoot Lake. The lake’s name comes from a legend about a 19th-century Chickasaw Indian chief who was called Reelfoot because he had a deformed foot.
  17. Tennessee was about to become a Confederate state in June 1861. The East Tennesseans resisted going, and they fought.

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Tennessee Facts—Geography

  1. 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.
  2. The city of Murfreesboro lies in the exact geographical center of the state.
  3. Reputed “Turtle Capital of the World,” Reelfoot Lake also features thousands of sliders, stinkpots, mud, and map turtles.
  4. Oak Ridge 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.
  5. Tennessee has more than 3,800 documented caves.
  6. The Alex Haley boyhood home in Henning is the first state-owned historic site devoted to African Americans in Tennessee.
  7. 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.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Credit: TripSavvy
  1. Elvis Presley’s home called Graceland is located in Memphis. Graceland is the second most-visited house in the country.
  2. Bristol is known as the Birthplace of Country Music.
  3. The nation’s oldest African-American architectural firm, McKissack and McKissack, is located in Nashville.
  4. The nation’s oldest African-American financial institution, Citizens Savings Bank and Trust Company, is located in Nashville.
  5. Tennessee ties with Missouri as the most neighborly state in the union. It is bordered by 8 states.
  6. Dolly Parton is a native of Sevierville. A major highway, the Dolly Parton Parkway, takes visitors traveling to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  7. Tennessee has the world’s largest artificial skiing surface. It is located at the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort in Gatlinburg. There is a 5-acre artificial ski surface that permits skiing in any type of weather.
  8. Tennessee was the United States’ first successful water diversion tunnel – the Montgomery Bell Tunnel in Kingston Springs built in the 19th century with the help of slave labor and black powder.
  9. Nashville, the largest city in Tennessee was founded on Christmas Eve in 1779.
  10. There is a full-sized replica of the Parthenon in the heart of Nashville. In 1897, Nashville built the Parthenon as part of its Centennial Celebration, because the city was known as “The Athens Of The South”. 
Credit: Flickr
  1. The 33-story AT&T building, known around the world as the “Batman Building,” is the tallest skyscraper in Tennessee.
  2. The highest temperature ever recorded in Tennessee was 113 degrees Fahrenheit measured on August 29, 1930.
  3. The state is divided into three grand divisions: East, Middle, and West Tennessee. The eastern part of the state is dominated by the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cumberland Plateau. Middle Tennessee has level, fertile land which is interrupted by gently rolling hills. Nashville lies in this region. This is a balanced agricultural and commercial region. And the west is mainly flat with fertile soil.
  4.  Other than the eight states that border Tennessee, Illinois is the next closest to the volunteer state. It is a 46-mile drive from the Obion County community of South Fulton to Cairo.
  5. The Eastern Tennessee Seismic Zone spans the entirety of East Tennessee from northwestern Alabama to southwestern Virginia and is considered one of the most active zones in the Southeastern United States, frequently producing low-magnitude earthquakes
  6. The “Guinness Book of World Records” lists the Lost Sea in Sweetwater as the largest underground lake in the United States.
Reddit The Lost Sea, Sweetwater, TN

Tennessee Facts—Animals and Plants

  1. There are more horses per capita in Shelby County than in any other county in the United States.
  2. Conifer forests similar to those in Canada are found in the higher elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  3. The Tennessee Aquarium is the largest facility of its kind to focus on freshwater habitat. It features 7,000 animals and 300 species of fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals.
  4. The Tennessee walking horse is a breed of gaited horse known for its unique four-beat running-walk and flashy movement. The breed of the horse is popular for trail and pleasure riding as well as the show.
  5. The world’s tallest treehouse built by Minister Horace Burgess is in Crossville, TN. The house is about 100 feet tall and has an estimated area of 10,000 square feet. The house is built from recycled material. The entire house is open to the public. The structure is put together with the help of some 250,000 nails.

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Tennessee Facts—Demographics

  1. Knoxville was home to the 1982 World’s Fair. Attendance was recorded at 11,127,786 visitors.
  2. When Tennessee became a state in 1796, the total population was 77,000.
  3. Tennesseans are sometimes referred to as Butternuts, a tag that was first applied to Tennessee soldiers during the Civil War because of the tan color of their uniforms.
  4. Tennessee’s State Capital, Nashville, is known as “Music City” – the country music capital of the world.
  5. Bluegrass music originated in Bristol, in northeastern Tennessee.
  6.  Elvis Presley’s (the “King of Rock and Roll”) house, Graceland, Tennessee is the second most visited house museum in the U.S. after the White House. The house museum sees over 600,000 visitors a year.
  7. Tennessee has the most state songs, with 9 official state songs and an official bicentennial rap.
  8. Nashville hosts Tin Pan South, the largest songwriters festival in the world.
  9. Tennessee obesity rate is 36.5%, higher than the nation’s 32.1%  [5]

Tennessee Facts— Economy

  1. Tennessee is ranked No.1 in Long-Term Fiscal Stability as part of the attributes that helped it rank No. 3 in terms of Fiscal Stability in the US.
  2. During the 20th century, Tennessee transitioned from a predominantly agrarian society to a more diversified economy.
  3. Until about 1940, Tennessee’s economy was predominantly agricultural, with cotton, tobacco, and livestock as the principal cash products.
  4. Tennessee’s GDP was $312.44 billion in 2020, which is a little bit more than Singapore’s $310 billion. Tennessee’s GDP Per Capita was $46,925, which is less than Singapore’s $55,236.
  5. Automobile manufacturing has been one of the fastest-growing segments of Tennessee’s manufacturing sector, helping to boost the state’s economy since the late 20th century.
  6. In the early 21st century, the service sector of Tennessee accounted for well over half of the state’s GDP.
  7. Tennessee’s median household income was $53,320. Approximately 14% of the population was below the poverty line.
  8. In 2015, Tennessee’s whiskey exports were worth $691 million, which is double what they were in 2005.
  9. Actress-singer Polly Bergen, from Knoxville, is the first woman to serve on the Board of Directors of the Singer Sewing Machine Company.
Lover’s Leap Photograph by Greg and Chrystal Mimbs. Credit: Fine Art America

Famous Locations In Tennessee

  1. Tennessee is home to some beautiful natural sights, but perhaps the best of the lot can be found at Lover’s Leap, which is where you can spot seven different states. The rare white Fallow deer can also be seen within the Rock City attraction, but for the best views of the land surrounding Lookout Mountain, visitors will have to be brave enough to cross the Swing along the bridge.
  2. Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited national park in the States. Biking, hiking, fishing, and camping are among the many leisure activities available within the grounds of the park.
  3. The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area are one of the most beautiful places to visit in the whole of Tennessee. There is a huge array of scenic gorges and sandstone bluffs to explore in the park, which has a rich and diverse history dating back 10,000 years.
  4. No trip experiencing the nature of Tennessee would be complete without taking in the amazing sight of Rainbow Hall, which can be found in Rock City. For anyone who has ever wondered what Chattanooga would look like with purple or green air, Rainbow Hall provides an unforgettable answer to that question.
  5.  Rock Island State Park is also a great place to visit in Tennessee. The Great Falls Gorge is one of the main natural and historical features of the park, which also boasts Twin Falls, a cascade waterfall spilling down from an underground cavern into the park’s Caney Fork.
  6. The waterfalls at Burgess Falls State Park are some of the most beautiful sights in Tennessee. Located on the Falling Water River, fishing and picnicking are some of the most popular activities at the park.
Best Smoky Mountain Views and Lift Ride. Image Credit: Gatlinburg SkyLift & SkyBridge, Tennessee
  1. During winter in Tennessee, there is nowhere more beautiful to visit than the mountain resort of Gatlinburg. From November to February, the town is lit up by stunning environmentally-friendly displays, with unique LED lighting displays along Gatlinburg’s famous downtown Parkway, adjacent to River Road, among the most impressive of the sights on offer.

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Famous People From Tennessee

  • James Agee, famous American novelist, journalist, poet, screenwriter, and film critic
  • Eddy Arnold, American country music singer who performed for six decades.
  • Chet Atkins, known as “Mr. Guitar” and “The Country Gentleman”, musician, occasional vocalist, songwriter, and record producer.
  • Hattie Caraway, a politician who became the first woman elected to serve a full term as a United States Senator.
  • Jack Garnet Carter, inventor, and entrepreneur who is considered one of the fathers of miniature golf.
  • Davy Crockett, an American folk hero, frontiersman, soldier, and politician.
  • Mark Dean,  American inventor and computer engineer.
  • David G. Farragut,  flag officer of the United States Navy during the American Civil War.
  • Tennessee Ernie Ford, American singer, and television host.
  • Morgan Freeman, American actor, director, and narrator.

Common Misconceptions About Tennessee State

Here are some misconceptions you really need to know about Tennessee. 

Everyone lives on a farm and doesn’t have running water

While Tennessee is home to thousands of acres of farmland, there are four major cities that all have substantial urban and suburban populations.

Tennesseans only wear jeans and cowboy boots

Not really. The heat and humidity down here make the denim feel like it’s sticking to your skin. It’s not fun for anyone involved. If it’s not a concert or a football game, pairing a dress with a leather cowboy boot could be a major fashion risk.

Everyone likes country music

Even though Nashville is the country’s music capital, not everyone here appreciates the storytelling twang.

Weird Laws in Tennessee 

Many of the laws below were passed a long time ago, but they still exist in many Tennessee cities, but many of them go unenforced. It is easier to pass laws than to revoke them, so some very strange laws remain on the books. Read the Craziest Laws in the United States, if you want more.

Here are some of our favorites.

  1. You can’t shoot any game other than whales from a moving automobile.
  2. Hollow logs may not be sold.
  3. More than 8 women may not live in the same house because that would constitute a brothel.
  4. It is illegal to use a lasso to catch a fish.
  5.  The definition of “dumb animal” includes every living creature.
  6. A minor is not allowed to be tattooed.
  7. It is illegal to dare a child to purchase a beer.
  8. It is illegal to place tacks on a high
  9. Netflix passwords are illegal to share. The law, passed in 2011, targets hackers who sell login credentials in bulk. 
  10. It is illegal for a woman to drive a car in Memphis unless a man is either running or walking in front of the car waving a red flag to warn approaching motorists and pedestrians.
Memphis does not allow women to drive unless there is a man waving a red to warn others. Image: Audit Analytics

Final Thought

As you can see, Tennessee is a great state in the Southeastern region of the United States. You will enjoy some of the country’s most scenic nature, outrageously delicious food, endless music, friendly people, and world-class festivals that you can shake a stick at. And you can enjoy it all with some of the lowest costs of living in the country.

Tennessee Facts And Stats

Population2021 (6,975,218)
GovernorBill Lee (Republican Party)
Date Of AdmissionJune 1, 1796
U.S. SenatorsMarsha Blackburn (R)
Bill Hagerty (R)
US House of Representatives9 (of 435 Seats) 
State NicknameVolunteer State
State MottoAmerica at its Best
State Song“My Homeland, Tennessee” by Nell Grayson Taylor.“When It’s Iris Time in Tennessee” by Willa Waid Newman.
State FlowerIris
State Fishsmallmouth bass
State BirdMockingbird
State Treetulip poplar
State MammalRaccoon
State DrinkMilk
State MineralAgate 
State GemTennessee river pearls
State FossilPterotrigonia
Neighbor StatesKentuckyVirginiaNorth CarolinaGeorgiaAlabamaMississippiArkansasMissouri.

Frequently Asked Questions About The Volunteer state

What are the 5 interesting things about Tennessee?

  • Tennessee is tied for the state with the most borders.
  • A Tennessee lake was created by an earthquake.
  • Kingston was the state capital for one day.
  • Tennessee has 10 state songs.
  • Tennessee is the birthplace of the tow truck.

What is Tennessee known for?

  1. Hot chicken 
  2. Country music 
  3. Church communities 
  4. Whiskey 
  5. Barbecue 
  6. Davy Crockett 
  7. Goo Goo Cluster 
  8. Rolling Stones
  9. Moon Pie

Related Content: 


[1] 11 Downright Funny Memes You’ll Only Get If You’re From Tennessee

[2] Tennessee – US Census Bureau QuickFacts

[3] Tennessee – Economy | Britannica

[4] TN Quick Facts – Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

[5] Tennessee Rankings and Facts | US News Best States

[6] https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/

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Sabrina is a former campaign manager who has decided to focus her effort to help people contact senators and get help. She leads our Editorial Team with Ronald and Lawrence to curate content and resources that help us navigate the system.

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