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Tennessee (TN): State Guide and Fun Facts

When did Tennessee become a state? June 1, 1796

First European explorers in Tennessee Hernando de Soto, 1540

First inhabitants: Miscogee and Yuchi Indians

Square Miles: 42,146

US Rank: 36th

State Flower: Purple Iris

State Bird: Mockingbird

State Motto: Agriculture and Commerce

Capital City

Nashville- Nashville was founded before the state of Tennessee joined the United States. James Robertson and John Donelson settled the area in 1779 and gave it the name, Fort Nashborough. The area was located along a prime shipping river and railroad hub. In 1843, state leaders chose the city as the location of the state government, and Nashville became the capital city. Nashville rose to music fame in the early 20th century with the prominent record labels in the area, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the construction of the Grand Ole Opry.


What is Tennessee famous for?

1. Graceland – Located in the southwestern tip of Tennessee along the border of Mississippi, Graceland is the large grandiose home that belonged to Elvis Presley. Presley purchased Graceland from its original owners, Thomas and Ruth Moore. The home itself is large with eight bedrooms and eight bathrooms. Additions made by Elvis include a large stone wall around the property, a wrought-iron gate, a swimming pool, a racquetball court, and indoor waterfall, the Meditation Gardens and the Jungle Room recording studio.

2. Country Music – Tennessee is known as the “Birthplace of Country Music” because of its early contributors to the movement. Musicians such as Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family, Uncle Charlie Osborne and Tennessee Ernie Ford began recording their music in Bristol, Tennessee.

3. Great Smoky Mountains – This National Park lies in parts of Tennessee and North Carolina and is the country’s most visited national park, with between eight and ten million vacationers every year. The scenery is breathtaking, and there is plenty of hiking that affords entirely unique views of the sunrise and sunset. Mountains aside, the national park is host to tours by car, bicycling paths, campsites, fishing, historic buildings (homes, barns, churches, schools, mills), horseback riding, picnicking and waterfalls.

What is Tennessee’s economy?

1. Agriculture – Tennessee’s largest livestock revenue comes from beef cattle, chicken, dairy products and hogs. The state also produces wool from sheep and lambs and honey from bees. The state’s main crops are soybeans, greenhouse plants, cotton, corn, tobacco, wheat, hay and grain.

2. Manufacturing – Tennessee is a large producer of food products including breads, breakfast cereals, flour, beer, whiskey, candy, meats, vegetable oil and sodas. Other non-food products include automobiles, boats, industrial chemicals, paint, pharmaceuticals and soaps.

3. Services – Tennessee’s largest revenue generating industry is the services industry, composed of services such as health care, law firms, hotels, hospitals, colleges, delivery services and tourism. Wholesale and retail trade also contribute a significant amount of state money to this category.


Tennessee Historical Landmarks and Sites

1. Belle Meade Plantation – This plantation, built in 1853, is located in Belle Meade, Tennessee. It was originally home to General William Giles Harding. Together with his family, Harding began a business on the land breeding champion thoroughbred horses. The family occupied the plantation for four generations, until the early 20th century, when financial troubles forced them to give up the home. In 1953, the plantation was sold to the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities. Today, it is open to visitors wishing to explore the area and learn about its horse breeding history.

2. Chucalissa Museum and Archaeological Site – The history of the Chucalissa Indians has been reconstructed for visitors to come and learn about Tennessee’s pre-European settlers. Some of the uncovered objects from the site date back as far as 2000 years, however the most common pieces are around 1000 years old. Villages of the Chucalissa Native American tribes were constructed around the year 1200, and after being abandoned were rebuilt in 1400. The land was slowly surrendered to European settlers, and the Native Americans had all but left by 1800.

3. The Hermitage – Located in Davidson County, Tennessee, the Hermitage is an old plantation owned by Andrew Jackson from 1804 until his death in 1845. The home was built by Jackson in the Federal style, characteristic of the time. The mansion was built in 1821 and was added onto while Jackson was serving as President in 1831. Unfortunately, in 1834, a fire burnt down most of the house. In response, Jackson built a Greek Revival mansion on the site, which is the structure that remains today. The mansion was opened for public tours in 1889 and remains a historical monument and museum to the seventh President of the United States.

4. Sun Studio – Sam Phillips opened Sun Studio in Memphis Tennessee on January 3, 1950. Within one year of opening the studio, Phillips was recording Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Parker, Little Milton, B.B. King, James Cotton, Rufus Thomas and Rosco Gordon. He specialized in recording rock and roll, country and rockabilly style music. During his career, Sun Records grew exponentially, recording albums for Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Charlie Feathers, Ray Harris and Jerry Lee Lewis. The original Sun Studio building is still a recording business today, and is also opened to tourists.