90 Interesting Facts About Tennessee

Last updated on October 29th, 2023

62. The Memphis Cotton Exchange handles more than 30 percent of the cotton crop of the US. This foundation also sets the price of cotton and makes the rules.

63. Residents of Tennessee don’t pay taxes on their personal income. Businesses pay taxes on their income, and sales taxes are high in this state.

representational house image. Facts about Tennessee
Image credit – Dan

64. It is economical to live in Tennessee, where living cost is ten percent lower than the national average. You will also find that housing is also 20 percent lower.

65. A huge favorite, fried catfish is a staple dish in Tennessee. Cornbread battered and fried to a golden crisp is how you will recognize this original Tennessee cuisine.

66. A delicious candy combo, a chocolate filled with marshmallow and caramel, the GooGoo Cluster, is made in Nashville. The Standard Candy Company came up with this popular treat.

67. Small portable fried pies from all over Tennessee are a favorite among locals. It’s a sweet-savory pie that is especially popular in Knoxville.

68. Many Tennessee households consider the baked bean a staple food. It is a popular side dish served with a variety of food types.

69. If you are looking for something with a kick, you should try out the Nashville hot chicken. The very dish has become a popular dish all over Tennessee.

70. Some believe the biscuits and gravy dish comes from a Tennessee region in Southern Appalachia. The dry biscuits are much easier to eat when they are drowned in sausage gravy.

71. Pork meat is the main ingredient in Memphis BBQ in the form of ribs or pulled pork. A rub that contains more than forty spices is applied to the meat.

Corn bread. Facts about Tennessee
Corn bread. Image credit – Andrea Goh

72. The Soft and crumbly dish cornbread is a popular food in Tennessee. Locals are creative when it comes to different ingredients added to the recipe.

73. Another popular dish is the Tennessee mountain cake or stack cake. It is a stacked cookie dessert served by early mountain settlers, sometimes filled with soft apples.

74. Don’t leave this state without trying the country ham with red-eye gravy. The gravy is a thin sauce made from strong black coffee and drippings from fried ham.

Geographical facts about Tennessee

75. The Lost Sea, in nearby Sweetwater, TN, is the largest underwater lake in America.

76. Did you know that Tennessee is home to the most caves on record of any U.S. state? According to the Tennessee Cave Survey, the state has over 10,000 caves that account for 20% of all known caves in the country.

77. Interestingly, more than 90% of the caves are located on private property. All these caves have unique resources of some type. For instance, bats eat a lot of insects in the summer and are a farmer’s best friend. The value of bats to Tennessee agriculture is estimated to be above $313 million annually. According to Bat Conservation International, bats make up one-fifth of the mammal population on Earth.

78. Tennessee, Kingston Springs has the United States’ first successful water diversion tunnel, the Montgomery Bell Tunnel. It was built in the 19th century with the help of slave labor and black powder.

79. The world’s tallest tree house, 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.

80. 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.

81. Tennessee is one of the sixteen singly landlocked states in the U.S. with routes to their nearest ocean, gulf, or bay. The other fifteen states are Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, MichiganMinnesotaMontanaNevadaNew MexicoNorth Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, PennsylvaniaVermont, and West Virginia. The District of Colombia is also a singly landlocked region of the United States.

82. 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, Ill.

83. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the U.S., attracting almost twice the number of visitors compared to the second most popular park (Grand Canyon National Park, in Arizona) in the United States. The Great Smoky Mountains are known as the “Salamander Capital of the World,” and the park alone has 30 different species.

84. Earthquakes in the winter of 1811-12 led 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.

About the Tennessee River

85. The Tennessee River is the longest tributary of the Ohio River. It is formed by the confluence of the Holston and French Broad rivers, just east of Knoxville, Tennessee, and at the end joins with the Ohio River at Paducah, Kentucky.

86. The river is a part of the country’s Inland Waterway System and the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway.

87. The river is located in the Tennessee Valley and is 652 miles long. In the past, the river was known as the Cherokee River. Navigation of the Tennessee River plays an important role in the economic development of the Tennessee Valley.

88. The river is one of the major waterways of the southeastern United States.

89. Today, over 28,000 barges carry 45 to 50 million tons of goods up and down the Tennessee River annually. Note that 1 Barge = 60 Semi-Trucks or 15 Rail cars. Now, you can estimate the economic significance of the rivers like the Tennessee and others. Reliable and inexpensive river routes make possible cheaper and quicker transportation of goods to the other parts of the country.

90. Did you know that raising or lowering barges and boats from one water level to the next is possible? This is accomplished with the help of nine main and four auxiliary locks on the Tennessee River. These locks that work like an elevator make it possible for commercial and recreational vessels to pass from one reservoir to another.

About the Flag of Tennessee

Flag of Tennessee
Image in Public Domain

1. Design and Symbolism

The flag of Tennessee has three stars in a blue circle, surrounded by a white border for contrast. This emblem is at the center of a red field. Narrow strips of blue and white run vertically along the free edge.

The stars represent the Grand Divisions: East, Middle, and West Tennessee. These regions are roughly the same size but have different cultures, economies, and terrains.

The circle represents unity despite differences. The blue bar? Solely there for design flair. It breaks the monotony of the red background and increases the visual appeal.

Tennessee was one of the Confederate States during the American Civil War. Observers note similarities between the flags of Tennessee and the Confederacy, including the colors and the stars. However, there is no evidence that the designer did this on purpose.

2. Adoption and Revision

Colonel Le Roy Reeves designed the current Tri-Star Flag. Tennessee adopted it as the state flag over a century ago, on April 17, 1905.

3. Technical Details

A lot of people get it wrong. For a faithful reproduction, keep the proportion at 3:5. Place the blue band away from the pole.

Use three 5-pointed stars of the same size. Arrange them such that one is higher than the others. Place it near the side of the flag pole.

If you connect the center of these stars, you should get a triangle with equal sides. None of these sides should be parallel to the edges of the rectangular flag.

Each star should have one tip pointing to the center of the circle. Place this emblem in the middle of the red field, not the whole flag. The blue band creates a slight offset.

4. History

Tennessee was in the middle of creating a state flag in 1861 when the American Civil War broke out. People quickly shifted their focus and forgot about the project.

In 1897, the state finally adopted a flag with traditional US colors: red, blue, and white. It had three slanted bars to represent each region. The white bar had the number 16, indicating the order of state admission into the union. On the blue bar were the words “The Volunteer State.”

In 1905, the Tennessee General Assembly scrapped the old flag in favor of a new design by Col. Le Roy Reeves. He was an attorney in Johnson City who served in the state National Guard.

5. Other Tennessee Flags

In 1861, the first proposed state flag had three bands: red, white, and red. On the upper left is an emblem with the words Agriculture and Commerce. It had illustrations of plants and a ship.

In 1939, the Adjutant General asked the US War Department to design a flag for the Tennessee governor. It features the crest of the TN National Guard: three stars on a tree. Four other stars sit near the corners of a scarlet background.

In 1978, the Tennessee General Assembly accepted flag submissions from students across the state. They chose a white flag with narrow horizontal bands of blue and red at the edges. In the middle are three co-linear stars, with the middle star decorated by a gavel and wheat.

6. Known Errors

Be careful with the flags! In 1976, the US Postal Service issued a sheet of stamps featuring state flags. Collectors immediately spotted an error: the Tennessee flag was upside down.

Tennessee – quick facts and state symbols

State AbbreviationTN
State CapitalNashville
Largest CityNashville
State SizeTotal (Land + Water): 42,143 sq miles; Land Only: 41,217 sq miles
7,126,489 (Estimate July 1, 2023 from United States Census Bureau)
StatehoodJune 1, 1796
State rank by population15th
State rank by date of formation16th
State rank by area36th
Number of Counties95
Bordering StatesAlabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia
Official LanguageEnglish
Highest PointClingmans Dome
6,643 ft (2025 m)
Lowest pointMississippi River at Mississippi border
178 ft (54 m)
Mean elevation900 feet above sea level
Length 440 miles (710 km)
Width120 miles (195 km)
GovernorBill Lee (R)
Lieutenant GovernorRandy McNally (R)
Electoral Votes11
State MottoAgriculture and Commerce
State NicknameVolunteer State
% Water2.2
Nobel Prize WinnersCordell Hull (Peace, 1945)
James M. Buchanan Jr. (Economic Sciences, 1986)
Famous peopleClaude Humphrey (Pro Football Player)
Turkey Stearnes (Baseball Player)
Bailey Howell (Basketball Player)
Megan Fox (Actress)
Miley Cyrus (Singer)
State petRescued Dog or Cat
State commercial fishChannel catfish
State ReptileEastern box turtle
State FlowerPassion Flower
State FossilPterotrigonia
State TreeYellowwood Tree
Longitude81° 39′ W to 90° 19′ W
Latitude34° 59′ N to 36° 41′ N
Time ZoneEastern Time Zone, Central Time Zone
Area Codes423, 615, 731, 865, 901, 931
Table last updatedDecember 21, 2023