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Benton, Tennessee
The Drug Store (left) and Polk County News block in Benton
The Drug Store (left) and Polk County News block in Benton
Location of Benton in Polk County, Tennessee.
Location of Benton in Polk County, Tennessee.
Country United States
State Tennessee
County Polk
Founded 1840
Incorporated 1915
Named for Thomas Hart Benton
Area
 • Total 3.03 sq mi (7.85 km2)
 • Land 3.03 sq mi (7.85 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
Elevation
741 ft (226 m)
Population
 (2010)
 • Total 1,385
 • Estimate 
(2019)
1,278
 • Density 421.36/sq mi (162.71/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
37307
Area code(s) 423
FIPS code 47-05040
GNIS feature ID 1327567

Benton is a town in Polk County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 1,385 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Polk County.

Benton is included in the Cleveland Metropolitan Statistical Area. Nancy Ward, a Cherokee known as Nanyehi, was a Beloved Woman, a leader among her people. For many years, she participated in negotiations with the British and Americans. After the American Revolution, she had an inn here and was finally buried here. The Nancy Ward Chapter of the DAR, named in her honor, has marked the graves of her and her son Fivekiller.

History

Benton was founded in 1840 as a county seat for Polk County, which had been established the previous year. The town, originally a trading post known as McKamy's stock stand, was named in honor of Thomas Hart Benton.

The Benton fireworks disaster was an industrial disaster which occurred on May 27, 1983 on a farm southeast of Benton. An explosion at a secret illegal fireworks operation killed eleven, injured one, caused damage within a radius of several miles, and revealed the operation. The operation was by far the largest and most successful known illegal fireworks operation and the blast, having been heard over 20 miles away, was arguably the largest and most powerful explosion involving firework explosives.

Geography

Benton is located at 35°10′23″N 84°39′0″W / 35.17306°N 84.65000°W / 35.17306; -84.65000 (35.173185, -84.650000). The town is situated just southeast of the confluence of the Ocoee River and the Hiwassee River, roughly 34 miles (55 km) upstream from the latter's mouth along the Chickamauga Lake impoundment of the Tennessee River. The Unicoi Mountains rise prominently to the east of Benton.

Benton is centered on the junction of U.S. Route 411, which connects the town to Etowah to the north and Tennga, Georgia to the south, and Tennessee State Route 314, which connects Benton to Parksville and the Ocoee Dam area to the southeast. Benton is located approximately 20 miles (32 km) east of Interstate 75.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.3 square miles (6.0 km2), all land.

One of the scenic areas around Benton is Lake McCamy, where a hiking trail leads to the Benton Falls.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 250
1880 183 −26.8%
1890 165 −9.8%
1960 638
1970 749 17.4%
1980 1,115 48.9%
1990 992 −11.0%
2000 1,138 14.7%
2010 1,385 21.7%
2019 (est.) 1,278 −7.7%
Sources:

2020 census

Benton racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 1,418 93.11%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 5 0.33%
Native American 8 0.53%
Asian 1 0.07%
Pacific Islander 1 0.07%
Other/Mixed 61 4.01%
Hispanic or Latino 29 1.9%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 1,523 people, 645 households, and 438 families residing in the town.

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