Tennessee was the last state to secede from the Union during the Civil War. It joined the Confederacy in June 1861, but a significant portion of its population remained loyal to the Union, leading to a bitter and divided conflict within the state.
Polk County, located in the southeastern part of Tennessee, has a rich history dating back thousands of years. The area was home to Native American tribes, including the Cherokee, who inhabited the region long before European settlers arrived. The first European explorers, led by Hernando de Soto in the 16th century, explored the area and interacted with the native inhabitants.

In 1839, Polk County was officially formed and named after President James K. Polk. It was carved out of neighboring Bradley County, and the county seat was established in Benton. The economy of the county initially relied on agriculture, with crops such as corn, tobacco, and fruit trees being grown. The arrival of the railroad in the mid-19th century further boosted economic growth, allowing better transportation for goods and people.

During the Civil War, Polk County faced significant hardships as it was deeply divided between pro-Union and pro-Confederate sentiments. Multiple skirmishes and battles took place in the area, including the Battle of Athens in 1863. After the war, the county faced the challenging process of reconstruction and rebuilding.

In the 20th century, Polk County experienced further development and growth with the construction of the Ocoee Dam No. 1, which contributed to the rise of hydroelectric power and the creation of recreational opportunities in the region. Today, Polk County continues to thrive as a picturesque and rural area known for its natural beauty, outdoor activities, and historical legacy.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Polk County, Tennessee.

  • 1801: Polk County established as a separate county from Bradley County.
  • 1839: The county seat is established in Benton.
  • 1865: End of the American Civil War and the Reconstruction era begins.
  • 1895: Establishment of the Polk County Courthouse in Benton.
  • 1936: Construction of the Ocoee Dam creates the Ocoee River.
  • 1950: The population of Polk County reaches its peak at over 15,000 residents.
  • 1976: Part of the Ocoee River is designated a National Wild and Scenic River.
  • 1983: Completion of the Ocoee Whitewater Center for the 1996 Summer Olympics.
  • 1998: The Ocoee River is designated a United States Olympic Training Site for whitewater slalom.