A Brief History of Grainger County, Tennessee
Grainger County was founded in 1796. It is the only county in Tennessee named in honor of a woman: Mary Grainger, the wife of William Blount, the first territorial governor of Tennessee.

The first paper mill established in the south was built in Grainger County by Dr. Milton Shields.

Shields Station
the old jail
President Andrew Johnson, as a young man, operated a small tailor shop in Rutledge. A replica of his shop stands in front of the Grainger County Courthouse. Across the street is the Old Jail, which housed a variety of local criminals, most of whom were more colorful than dangerous.
Bean Station tavern
In 1813, Thomas and Jenkins Whiteside built a 52-room inn and tavern at Bean’s Station in the eastern portion of the county. The three story brick hotel was a popular stagecoach stop between Washington and New Orleans. Late in 1863, during the Civil War (War Between the States), Bean’s Station was the scene of a fierce battle between Union and Confederate forces. The inn was later destroyed and, today, the battle field lies buried beneath Cherokee Lake most of the year.
Tate Springs gazebo
In the late 1800s, Captain Thomas Tomlinson built a luxury resort at Tate Springs. The 6,000-acre resort featured two hotels, a golf course, cottages, stables, and a park. The spring’s mineral-rich waters attracted wealthy dignitaries from all over the world including the Fords, Rockefellers, Firestones, Studebakers and Mellons. The resort prospered until the Great Depression. One of the two original hotels was torn down in 1936 and, five years later, the property was sold to Kingswood School. The second hotel was used by the school until it burned down. Today, a gazebo at the spring stands as a monument to what was once the south’s premier luxury resort.
Cherokee Lake from the overlook on Clinch Mountain
The establishment of the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1931 brought many changes to the county including the creation of Cherokee Lake and Norris Lake, but none had a bigger impact on the community than the widespread distribution of affordable electric service.

During much of the 20th century, “moonshining” was an illegal but lucrative industry and the hills and hollows scattered throughout the county produced many colorful characters (not to mention outlaws). Photographs of “revenuers” proudly showing off stills they busted can be found in local newspaper archives.

The Nance House Arts and Heritage Center in Rutledge is being developed to preserve the county’s storied history.

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Grainger County Chamber of Commerce
PO Box 101, Rutledge, TN 37861
865-828-4222

The Grainger County Chamber of Commerce promotes business and industry in Grainger County, Tennessee.
Grainger County is home to Clinch Mountain, Cherokee Lake, and Clinch River.

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