Knowing these Tennessee facts will make any visit to the state more interesting. Tennessee is well known for its musical heritage and its beautiful natural features, but there’s way more to the state than what you see on the surface.
As a Tennessee local, I’m here to share some of the most interesting Tennessee facts with you. From the history behind several Tennessee cities to where cotton candy was first invented, there are plenty of cool facts about Tennessee. Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- 29 Facts about Tennessee
- 1. Tennessee Is Home to the Country’s Most Visited National Park
- 2. Davy Crockett Was Born in Tennessee
- 3. One Nickname Is the Volunteer State
- 4. Tennessee Has More Caves Than Any Other State
- 5. The Most Sensitive Seismic Station on Earth Is in Townsend
- 6. Clingman’s Dome Is the Highest Point
- 7. The Grand Ole Opry Is the Longest-Running Radio Broadcast
- 8. Nashville Is Known as the Country Music Capital
- 9. Bristol Is the Birthplace of Country Music
- 10. Elvis Presley Recorded His First Hit in Memphis
- 11. Mountain Dew Was Invented in Tennessee
- 12. There Are At Least Two Replicas of Famous Monuments
- 13. The 1982 World’s Fair Took Place in Knoxville
- 14. Seven States Are Visible from Lookout Mountain
- 15. The Lost Sea Is the Country’s Largest Underground Lake
- 16. Dolly Parton Has Her Own Theme Park
- 17. Machine-made Cotton Candy Was Invented in the State
- 18. The Official State Amphibian Is the Tennessee Cave Salamander
- 19. The Official Insect Is the Firefly
- 20. The First Atomic Bomb Was Developed in Oak Ridge
- 21. Coca-Cola Was First Bottled in Chattanooga
- 22. Tennessee’s Flag Represents the Three Parts of the State
- 23. Jack Daniel’s Is Distilled in Lynchburg
- 24. The Tallest Building Is the Batman Building
- 25. The Tennessee State Capitol Is One of the Oldest Capitol Buildings In Use
- 26. Tennessee Has Two Time Zones
- 27. The Tennessee River Is an Important Tributary of the Ohio River
- 28. MoonPies Were Invented in Chattanooga
- 29. Four Different Cities Have Been the State Capital
- FAQs About Tennessee
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29 Facts about Tennessee
1. Tennessee Is Home to the Country’s Most Visited National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park had a staggering total of 12,937,633 visitors in 2022 – deeming it the most visited National Park in the United States. In comparison, the Grand Canyon was the second most visited National Park with 4,732,101 visitors in 2022. [Source]
2. Davy Crockett Was Born in Tennessee
While Davy Crockett is typically associated with Texas and died at the Battle of the Alamo, the “King of the Wild Frontier” was indeed born in East Tennessee. In his adulthood, he was even elected as a Tennessee Representative for the U.S. House of Congress. He moved to Texas after losing re-election in 1835.
3. One Nickname Is the Volunteer State
Tennessee first became known as the Volunteer State when volunteers from militias in Tennessee offered aid during the War of 1812. Additionally, in 1848, 30,000 Tennessee residents showed up when President Polk called for volunteers during the Mexican-American War.
4. Tennessee Has More Caves Than Any Other State
Tennessee has over 9,200 caves and caverns. In fact, there are so many caves in the area of Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia that serious cavers refer to the region as TAG. [Source]
5. The Most Sensitive Seismic Station on Earth Is in Townsend
Tuckaleechee Caverns is already one of the most interesting things to do in Townsend thanks to its incredibly diverse cave formations. However, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U.S. Military realized that the site was able to record seismic activity incredibly well.
The Tuckaleechee Caverns AS107 seismic station transmits information 24/7 to the U.S. Military, the Department of Defense, and the Pentagon.
6. Clingman’s Dome Is the Highest Point
Clingman’s Dome is located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is 6,643 feet high. This makes it the highest point in Tennessee. The temperature is usually 10 to 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) cooler at the top than in the surrounding area. [Source]
7. The Grand Ole Opry Is the Longest-Running Radio Broadcast
First airing in 1925, the Grand Ole Opry is the longest-running radio broadcast in the world. The show brought country music into people’s homes and helped popularize the music genre across the United States.
8. Nashville Is Known as the Country Music Capital
Nashville is associated with country music thanks to Nashville concert venues like the Ryman Auditorium. Many of the original country music stars got their start in Nashville, although today the music industry in Nashville includes artists from a wide range of genres. One of Nashville’s nicknames is Music City.
9. Bristol Is the Birthplace of Country Music
While Nashville may be the capital of country music, Bristol holds the title of the Birthplace of Country Music. Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family were 2 of the 19 groups who first recorded the sounds that would later become associated with country music in Bristol during the summer of 1927. [Source]
10. Elvis Presley Recorded His First Hit in Memphis
Before Elvis Presley became known as the King of Rock ‘n Roll, he recorded his first hit at Sun Studio in Memphis. Presley recorded “That’s All Right” in 1954, and the song soon reached the top of the local music charts.
11. Mountain Dew Was Invented in Tennessee
Barney and Ally Hartman created Mountain Dew in Knoxville in the 1940s. The drink was originally intended to be a mixer for whisky. Mountain Dew was first bottled in Johnson City by the Tri-Cities Beverage Corporation.
12. There Are At Least Two Replicas of Famous Monuments
Visitors don’t have to travel the world to see the Eiffel Tower or the Parthenon. Instead, 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.
Visiting Centennial Park is one of the many fun activities in Nashville that locals and visitors enjoy.
13. The 1982 World’s Fair Took Place in Knoxville
The Parthenon in Nashville’s Centennial Park and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Tennessee, aren’t the only interesting Tennessee landmarks. Knoxville built an impressive structure known as the Sunsphere when it hosted the 1982 World’s Fair.
14. Seven States Are Visible from Lookout Mountain
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. When conditions are right, visitors may be able to see Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.
15. The Lost Sea Is the Country’s Largest Underground Lake
While it’s the country’s largest underground lake, no one knows exactly how large the Lost Sea actually is.
The visible portion of the underground lake is located in Sweetwater’s Craighead Caverns and measures 800 feet by 220 feet. However, it’s not possible for researchers to fully explore the lake even with modern equipment. Still, The Lost Sea is still recognized as the largest underground lake in the United States. [Source]
16. Dolly Parton Has Her Own Theme Park
Dolly Parton, one of Tennessee’s most beloved residents, owns a theme park in Pigeon Forge called Dollywood. The Appalachian-themed park is one of the most popular attractions to visit in Tennessee. There’s also a Dolly Parton museum in the park that Parton fans will absolutely love.
17. Machine-made Cotton Candy Was Invented in the State
Spun sugar was invented as early as the 15th century, but this early form of cotton candy was labor-intensive and impractical to make before Tennessee go ahold of it. Dentist William Morris of Nashville and John C. Wharton created the first machine-produced cotton candy in 1897. They called the product fairy floss at the 1904 World’s Fair.
18. The Official State Amphibian Is the Tennessee Cave Salamander
The Tennessee Cave Salamander, which somewhat resembles an axolotl, was chosen as the official state amphibian in 1995.
19. The Official Insect Is the Firefly
Also known as the lightning bug beetle, the firefly is Tennessee’s official insect. For a few weeks each year, you may be lucky enough to spot synchronous fireflies in locations around the state. These fireflies flash their mating pattern at the same time, and the effect is incredible.
20. The First Atomic Bomb Was Developed in Oak Ridge
The city of Oak Ridge didn’t exist before 1942. This is because the U.S. government founded Oak Ridge to serve as one of the production sites for the Manhattan Project. Most workers at the site only knew what their jobs were and didn’t know they were developing an atomic bomb until later.
21. Coca-Cola Was First Bottled in Chattanooga
Coca-Cola was developed in Atlanta in 1886. However, the popular soft drink only became available as a fountain drink in 1899 when the Chattanooga Bottling Company opened and began producing bottled Coca-Cola.
22. Tennessee’s Flag Represents the Three Parts of the State
The three stars in Tennessee’s state flag stand for the three divisions of the state: East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and West Tennessee.
23. Jack Daniel’s Is Distilled in Lynchburg
The Jack Daniel Distillery became the first registered distillery in the United States when it opened in 1866. Jack Daniel bought land in Cave Spring Hollow for his distillery because the cave spring provided pure, clean water ideal for making whisky. [Source]
24. The Tallest Building Is the Batman Building
At 617 feet tall, the Batman Building in Nashville is the tallest skyscraper in Tennessee. The building is actually named the AT&T Building but has been nicknamed the Batman Building due to its distinctive design that resembles the superhero character.
25. The Tennessee State Capitol Is One of the Oldest Capitol Buildings In Use
Built in 1859, Tennessee’s State Capitol is among the oldest U.S. capitol buildings still used for its original purpose. Taking a tour of the State Capitol is one of the best free activities in Nashville.
26. Tennessee Has Two Time Zones
The state of Tennessee is located in both the Eastern Time Zone and the Central Time Zone. Most of East Tennessee is in the Eastern Time Zone with the exception of a couple of counties. The rest of Tennessee is on Central Time. Be sure to keep the time change in mind if you plan to road trip through Tennessee.
27. The Tennessee River Is an Important Tributary of the Ohio River
With a length of around 652 miles, the Tennessee River is the largest tributary of the Ohio River. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has dammed the river for a number of projects since the 1930s.
28. MoonPies Were Invented in Chattanooga
MoonPies, a popular snack made of graham cookies and marshmallows coated in chocolate, were first produced at the Chattanooga Bakery. The snack quickly became a hit. During the 1930s, it was common for workers to enjoy a MoonPie and R.C. Cola as a filling snack.
29. Four Different Cities Have Been the State Capital
Today, Nashville is Tennessee’s capital city, but Knoxville was the capital while the state constitution was being drafted. The Tennessee General Assembly also met in the cities of Kingston and Murfreesboro. Nashville was chosen as the permanent Tennessee state capital in 1843.
FAQs About Tennessee
What are interesting facts about Tennessee?
Five interesting facts about Tennessee are that Mountain Dew was invented in Tennessee, the city of Oak Ridge was created to develop the atomic bomb, Tennessee’s Lost Sea is the largest underground lake in the U.S., and Elvis Presley’s career began in Memphis.
What are 3 things Tennessee is famous for?
Three things Tennessee is famous for are being the site of the Jack Daniel Distillery, having more caves than any other state, and being home to two of the entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Is there anything special about Tennessee?
Tennessee is the only place where Tennessee Whisky can be made. The state is also home to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Tennessee is known for its rich musical heritage.
What food is Tennessee famous for?
The foods Tennessee is famous for include Nashville hot chicken and Memphis barbecue. Other popular Tennessee foods are mac and cheese, catfish, and banana pudding.
Hopefully, you enjoyed reading all these Tennessee facts! Check out my list of interesting facts about Nashville next for more fun information.
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