Tennessee is an East South Central state bordered by Kentucky to the north, North Carolina to the east, Mississippi and Alabama to the south, and Missouri and Arkansas to the west. The state, which lies between the Mississippi River on the west and the Appalachian Mountains on the east, touches a total of eight other states. Almost two-fifths of Tennessee's population lives in the state's countryside. Tennessee's state flag, with its three stars, represents the state's three distinct regions that are often thought of as three separate states. See the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. The area is high and densely wooded. East Tennessee was, for the most part, isolated from the outside world until the 20th Century because of its rugged terrain. Today, East Tennessee has become the most industrialized part of the state. Chattanooga and Knoxville are two important cities in the region. Tennessee is also known for the people who have lived there. Davy Crockett, the "coonskin cap" congressman, is a famous frontier hero who was born and lived in the state. Visit the Hermitage, the mansion where President Andrew Jackson lived and is now buried. Former Tennessee congressman James Polk was another President of the United States who lived in the state. The United States had its greatest territorial expansion when he was in office. Andrew Johnson, a former state governor, became President after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Long before Elvis and Country Music, the area of Tennessee was home to large groups of prehistoric peoples. Archaeologists have learned that the first inhabitants of Tennessee arrived at least 12,000 years ago, shortly after the end of the last ice age. These earliest settlers spread throughout the state, and left behind a rich archaeological heritage. Located just south of Jackson, Tennessee in the small community of Pinson is the Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park. This archaeological site is the largest Woodland Period prehistoric archaeological site in the American Southeast, and was occupied during the period from around 200 B.C.-A.D. 400. It consists of at least twelve earthen mounds, and a large palisade or enclosure. The main mound at Pinson is known as Saul’s Mound, and stands 72 feet tall. At the time it was built (around 100 A.D.) it was the tallest man-made structure north of the Rio Grande. It remained the tallest structure in what would become the United States for nearly 1000 years, until the construction of the site of Cahokia near St. Louis, MO.
Generally, Tennessee has a temperate climate, with warm summers and mild winters. However, the state's varied topography leads to a wide range of climatic conditions. The warmest parts of the state, with the longest growing season, are the Gulf Coastal Plain, the Central Basin, and the Sequatchie Valley. In the Memphis area in the southwest, the average date of the last killing frost is 20 March, and the growing season is about 235 days. Memphis has an annual mean temperature of 17°C, 4°C in January, and 28°C in July. In the Nashville area, the growing season lasts about 225 days. Nashville has an annual mean of 15°C, ranging from 2°C in January to 26°C in July. The Knoxville area has a growing season of 220 days. The city's annual mean temperature is 16°C, with averages of 5°C in January and 26°C in July. In some parts of the mountainous east, where the temperatures are considerably lower, the growing season is as short as 130 days. The record high temperature for the state is 45°C, set at Perryville on 9 August 1930; the record low, –36°C, was registered at Mountain City on 30 December 1917. Severe storms occur infrequently. The greatest rainfall occurs in the winter and early spring, especially March; the early fall months, particularly September and October, are the driest. Average annual precipitation (1971–2000) was 54.7 inches in Memphis and 48 inches in Nashville. Snowfall varies and is more prevalent in East Tennessee than in the western section; Nashville gets about 10 inches a year, Memphis only 5 inches.
Memphis: “I put on my blue suede shoes, and I boarded the plane”… sorry, we lost ourselves there for a minute. Memphis, hey? You must love your music. There could hardly be a more iconic city, the spiritual home of blues and host to the infamous Beale Street. In amongst the humid heart of the downtown on the banks of the notorious Mississippi River, you’ll soon find yourself swept away in the rush of it all.
Nashville: An undeniable heartland of the American country music scene, Nashville’s reputation will arguably never escape from the country and western image, but recently the city’s headed in other directions. A heavy industrialization has bought a different, slightly corporate edge to Nashville, but done nothing to detract from the extensive bar crawling and country taverns that still prevail.
Gatlinburg: Gatlinburg, commonly known as "Gateway to the Smoky Mountains," is nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. There are many things to do in Gatlinburg including everything from shopping to snow skiing. There is not enough room to include everything there is to do in Gatlinburg. It is second to Vegas for wedding chapels.
Chattanooga: Chattanooga is located in Southeast Tennessee near the border of Georgia at the junction of four interstates. At a population of about 160,000 and a total area of 143.2 square miles.
Knoxville: Welcome to Knoxville, the home of the University of Tennessee Volunteers and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. Knoxville was the home of the 1982 World’s Fair and the Sun Sphere.
Pigeon Forge: This community has only about 5 or 6 thousand populations according to the census, but since Theme Parks, especially Dollywood, became the areas major emphasis, this town has become the young family tourist attraction destination for the entire south east. With more miniature golf courses and go-kart tracks than anywhere around, kids find this a great place to be.
Cleveland: The little brochure they hand out at the city’s welcome center starts off with this quote from an advertisement in the Cleveland Weekly Herald from April 4, 1902.
Lynchburg: Lynchburg is a small town that’s home to the Jack Daniel’s distillery. The town basically consists of the distillery and a town square.
There are many sites to visit in Tennessee. Go to Nashville, known as the "Athens of the South," and visit the spectacular reproduction of the Parthenon, an ancient Greek temple. While you're in Nashville, stop and hear "The Grand Ole Opry," a famous live country music radio show. Or go to Memphis and tour Graceland, the luxurious home of Elvis Presley, the "King of Rock and Roll." Memphis is also where Martin Luther King, Jr., who won the Nobel Peace Prize, was assassinated by James Earl Ray. Visit Dayton, Tennessee, the site of the Scopes trial. The trial, one of the most famous in American history, was one in which a high school teacher named John Thomas Scopes was found guilty of breaking a state law that made it illegal to teach evolution in public schools. The decision was later reversed, however, because of a minor legal error.
Interstate Highways: Interstate 40 crosses the state in a west-east orientation. Its branch interstate highways include I-240 in Memphis; I-440 in Nashville; and I-140 and I-640 in Knoxville. I-26, although technically an east-west interstate, runs from the North Carolina border below Johnson City to its terminus at Kingsport. I-24 is an east-west interstate that runs cross-state from Chattanooga to Clarksville. In a north-south orientation are highways I-55, I-65, I-75, and I-81. Interstate 65 crosses the state through Nashville, while Interstate 75 serves Chattanooga and Knoxville and Interstate 55 serves Memphis. Interstate 81 enters the state at Bristol and terminates at its junction with I-40 near Dandridge. I-155 is a branch highway from I-55. The only spur highway of I-75 in Tennessee is I-275, which is in Knoxville.
Airports: Major airports within the state include Nashville International Airport, Memphis International Airport, McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, Tri-Cities Regional Airport, and McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport, in Jackson. Because Memphis International Airport is the major hub for FedEx Corporation, it is the world's largest air cargo operation.
Railroads: Memphis and Newbern, Tennessee, are served by the Amtrak City of New Orleans line on its run between Chicago, Illinois, and New Orleans, Louisiana. Nashville is served by the Music City Star commuter rail service.