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Tennessee History Timeline

1500s - 1600s
  • (1541) Spanish explorer, Hernando de Soto, first white man to visit area; claimed area for Spain
  • (1566) Spaniards built fort near present-day Chattanooga
  • (1673) James Needham, Gabriel Arthur of England explored Tennessee River Valley
  • (1682) Shawnee Indians driven out by Cherokees; LaSalle claimed Mississippi Valley territory for France; built Fort Prud'Homme near Memphis
  • (1714) Charles Charleville established French trading post at French Lick
  • (1730) Emissary of King George II appointed Chief Moyton "emperor" of Cherokees; England's sovereignty over Cherokees recognized
  • (1750) Dr. Thomas Walker led group of Virgininians into Tennessee; reached Cumberland River and mountains, named for Duke of Cumberland
  • (1754) French and Indian Wars broke out between British and French settlers
  • (1757) South Carolinians built Fort Loudon on Little Tennessee River
  • (1760) Cherokee Indians captured Fort Loudon, killed garrison and nearby settlers
  • (1763) French and Indian Wars ended; British won; French surrendered all claims to lands east of Mississippi in Treaty of Paris
  • (1768) Iroquois Indians ceded Tennessee land claims to English
  • (1772) Group of settlers formed government, Watauga Association
  • (1775) Daniel Boone blazed trail from Virginia across mountain at Cumberland Gap to open land for settlement
  • (1779) Jonesboro became first chartered town, oldest permanent settlement in state
  • (1780) Samuel Doak, Presbyterian minister, started first school in Tennessee; John Sevier led group of men at Battle of King's Mountain to defeat British; Fort Nashborough (Nashville) founded
  • (1796) Tennesse became 16th U.S. state
  • (1812) Eathquake occurred; tidal waves created on Mississippi River, river flowed backward, formed Reelfort Lake area
  • (1815) Tennessee troops led by Andrew Jackson defeated British at Battle of New Orleans
  • (1818) Western boundary of Tennessee extended to Mississippi River by Chickasaw Treaty
  • (1826) Nashoba, colony for free blacks, established; failed after four years; capitol moved to Nashville
  • (1834) State constitution amended, free blacks no longer had voting rights
  • (1836) Davy Crockett killed at battle at Alamo
  • (1838) Army evicted Cherokee, sent them to Indian territory on "Trail of Tears"; Tennessee first state to pass temperance law
  • (1861) Tennessee last state to secede from Union; Civil War began
  • (1862) Union troops led by Ulysses S. Grant forced unconditional surrender of Fort Donelson; two-day battle fought at Shiloh; General Forrest defeated Union army at Murfreesboro
  • (1864) Confederate army overwhelmed Fort Pillow
  • (1865) Civil War ended; Ku Klux Klan formed; Andrew Johnson elected U.S. president
  • (1866) Tennessee first state readmitted to Union; third state to ratify Fourteenth Amendment to constitution
  • (1869) President Andrew Johnson impeached; moved to Greeneville
  • (1878) 5,200 Memphis residents died due to yellow fever epidemic
  • (1894) Shiloh National Military Park created
  • (1897) Tennessee Centennial Exposition held in Nashville to celebrate state's 100th birthday


  • (1900) Locomotive engineer, Casey Jones, died in train crash
  • (1916) Chattanooga mechanic, Ernest Holmes, invented tow truck
  • (1918) Train wreck in Nashville killed 101, injured 171
  • (1920) Women received right to vote
  • (1925) Trial of evolution teacher, John T. Scopes, the "Monkey Trial", took place in Dayton
  • (1928) Fort Donelson National Battlefield established
  • (1933) Federal government established Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); built first hydroelectric dams in Tennessee
  • (1939) "Grand Ole Opry" began radio broadcasts
  • (1940) Great Smoky Mountain National Park dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt
  • (1942) Development of first atomic bomb (Manhattan Project) began at Oak Ridge
  • (1955) "Grand Ole Opry" began television broadcasts
  • (1960) Students held sit-in demonstrations at Nashville lunch counters
  • (1968) James Earl Ray assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis; Roy Orbison's sons died in fire in home in Hendersonville
  • (1976) Alex Haley won Pulitzer Price for "Roots"
  • (1977) Elvis Presley died in Memphis
  • (1982) World's fair held in Knoxville; Elvis Presley's Graceland Mansion opened to public
  • (1985) General Motors opened new Saturn assembly plant in Spring Hill
  • (1991) National Civil Rights Museum opened
  • (1992) Al Gore elected vice president of United States
  • (1996) Al Gore elected to second term
  • (1997) Tennessee Titans (former Houston Oilers) began playing
  • (1998) University of Tennessee football team became national champions
  • (2001) Passenger attacked bus driver causing accident, six people killed
  • (2002) Former Nashville Mayor, Phil Bredesen, elected Governor; National Rights Museum in Memphis opened new $11 million addition
  • (2003) 14 people killed by tornadoes in northwestern part of state
  • (2010) Jury convicted former Univ. of Tennessee student of hacking Sarah Palin's e-mail; flooding caused 18 deaths, major damage, thousands evacuated
  • (2011) Flooding in Memphis forced evacuation of 1,300 homes
  • (2011) Occupy protesters arrested for criminal trespassing in Nashville

Tennessee Photographs

daniel boonekings mountainbatlle at fort pillowShilohfort donelsoncumberland gapcumberland bridgejack's distilerygrand ole oprey

Tennessee Cities, Counties & Area Codes

City County Area Code
Oak Ridge Anderson 865
Shelbyville Bedford 931
Camden Benton 731
Pikeville Bledsoe 423
Maryville Blount 865
Cleveland Bradley 423
La Follette Campbell 423
Woodbury Cannon 615
McKenzie Carroll 731
Elizabethton Carter 423
Ashland City Cheatham 615
Henderson Chester 731
Tazewell Claiborne 423
Celina Clay 931
Newport Cocke 423
Manchester Coffee 931
Bells Crockett 731
Crossville Cumberland 931
Nashville Davidson 615
Parsons Decatur 731
Smithville DeKalb 615
Dickson Dickson 615
Dyersburg Dyer 731
Somerville Fayette 901
Jamestown Fentress 931
Winchester Franklin 931
Humboldt Gibson 731
Pulaski Giles 931
Rutledge Grainger 865
Greeneville Greene 423
Tracy City Grundy 931
Morristown Hamblen 423
Chattanooga Hamilton 423
Sneedville Hancock 423
Bolivar Hardeman 731
Savannah Hardin 731
Rogersville Hawkins 423
Brownsville Haywood 731
Lexington Henderson 731
Paris Henry 731
Centerville Hickman 931
Erin Houston 931
Waverly Humphreys 931
Gainesboro Jackson 931
Dandridge Jefferson 865
Mountain City Johnson 423
Knoxville Knox 865
Tiptonville Lake 731
Ripley Lauderdale 731
Lawrenceburg Lawrence 931
Hohenwald Lewis 931
Fayetteville Lincoln 931
Lenoir City Loudon 865
Lafayette Macon 615
Jackson Madison 731
Whitwell Marion 423
Lewisburg Marshall 931
Columbia Maury 931
Athens McMinn 423
Selmer McNairy 731
Decatur Meigs 423
Madisonville Monroe 423
Clarksville Montgomery 931
Lynchburg Moore 931
Wartburg Morgan 423
Union City Obion 731
Livingston Overton 931
Linden Perry 931
Byrdstown Pickett 931
Benton Polk 423
Cookeville Putnam 931
Dayton Rhea 423
Harriman Roane 865
Springfield Robertson 615
Murfreesboro Rutherford 615
Oneida Scott 423
Dunlap Sequatchie 423
Sevierville Sevier 865
Memphis Shelby 901
Carthage Smith 615
Dover Stewart 931
Kingsport Sullivan 423
Hendersonville Sumner 615
Covington Tipton 901
Hartsville Trousdale 615
Erwin Unicoi 423
Maynardville Union 865
Spencer Van Buren 931
McMinnville Warren 931
Johnson City Washington 423
Waynesboro Wayne 931
Martin Weakley 731
Sparta White 931
Franklin Williamson 615
Lebanon Wilson 615

About the Author

John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

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This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.