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Grainger County
County of Grainger
Grainger County Courthouse in Rutledge
Grainger County Courthouse in Rutledge
Official seal of Grainger County
Official logo of Grainger County
Commerce, Agriculture, Recreation
Map of Tennessee highlighting Grainger County
Location within the U.S. state of Tennessee
Map of the United States highlighting Tennessee
Tennessee's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Tennessee
Founded 1796
Named for Mary Grainger Blount
Seat Rutledge
Largest town Bean Station
 • Total 302 sq mi (780 km2)
 • Land 281 sq mi (730 km2)
 • Water 22 sq mi (60 km2)  7.2%%
 • Total 23,527 Increase
 • Density 81/sq mi (31/km2)
Demonym(s) Grainger Countian
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
37708, 37709, 37848, 37861, 37881, 37888
Area code 865
Congressional district 2nd

Grainger County is a county located in the U.S. state of Tennessee. As of the 2010 census, the population was 22,657. Its county seat is Rutledge. Grainger County is a part of both the Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area and Morristown Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Grainger County was formed from Knox and Hawkins Counties in 1796, the year Tennessee became a state. It is named for Mary Grainger Blount, wife of William Blount. Anderson, Claiborne, Campbell, Hamblen, Hancock, Scott and Union Counties were formed from parts of the original Grainger County.

Like many East Tennessee counties, Grainger County was generally opposed to secession from the Union. In Tennessee's Ordinance of Secession referendum on June 8, 1861, Grainger County voters rejected secession by 1,756 to 495.


US-11W near Blaine, with Clinch Mountain rising in the distance

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 302 square miles (780 km2), of which 281 square miles (730 km2) is land and 22 square miles (57 km2) (7.2%) is water. Grainger County is bounded on the northwest by the Clinch River (impounded by Norris Dam to form Norris Lake) and on the southeast by the Holston River (including Cherokee Lake). Clinch Mountain is a major geographic feature that effectively separates the county into a southern section (including Rutledge) and a northern section (including Washburn).

Indian Cave

Indian Cave is an historic site located on the Holston River near present-day Blaine. The cave was used for centuries before Europeans entered the area, as indigenous peoples settled in the area about 1000 CE. Remains of cane torches and other artifacts located in the cave indicate use by prehistoric indigenous peoples. The Iroquoian-speaking Cherokee migrated into the area from the northeast, making the eastern Ohio River valley and Appalachians down into South Carolina their historic territory.

In the 1700s, a Cherokee village was located just west of the main cave entrance, before the people were pushed out by encroaching Anglo-American settlers. The Donelson Party passed the Indian Cave entrance on their way down the Holston River in 1779 to settle present-day Nashville, Tennessee. In the years after the American Revolutionary War, the number of settlers continued to increase. Under the Indian Removal Act of 1830, Congress authorized the president to remove the Indians from the Southeast to territory west of the Mississippi River.

Robert Hoke, a former Confederate general from North Carolina, purchased the cave on July 21, 1869 as one of his business enterprises after the American Civil War. He had it mined for bat guano, a valuable natural fertilizer.

Area businessmen formed the Indian Cave Park Association on January 4, 1916 to develop the cave as a commercial attraction, as was being done for other caves throughout the Great Smoky Mountains. The Association did not open the cave officially to the public until May 30, 1924. The cave is still open to visitors.

Adjacent counties

State protected areas

  • Buffalo Springs Wildlife Management Area


Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 7,367
1810 6,397 −13.2%
1820 7,651 19.6%
1830 10,066 31.6%
1840 10,572 5.0%
1850 12,370 17.0%
1860 10,962 −11.4%
1870 12,421 13.3%
1880 12,384 −0.3%
1890 13,196 6.6%
1900 15,512 17.6%
1910 13,888 −10.5%
1920 13,369 −3.7%
1930 12,737 −4.7%
1940 14,356 12.7%
1950 13,086 −8.8%
1960 12,506 −4.4%
1970 13,948 11.5%
1980 16,751 20.1%
1990 17,095 2.1%
2000 20,659 20.8%
2010 22,657 9.7%
2020 23,527 3.8%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2014
USA Grainger County, Tennessee.csv age pyramid
Age pyramid Grainger County

2020 census

Grainger County racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 21,748 92.44%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 118 0.5%
Native American 42 0.18%
Asian 53 0.23%
Pacific Islander 2 0.01%
Other/Mixed 791 3.36%
Hispanic or Latino 773 3.29%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 23,527 people, 8,959 households, and 6,510 families residing in the county.



  • Bean Station


Unincorporated communities


Top employers

According to a data profile produced by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development in 2018, the top employers in the county are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Grainger County School District 500
2 Clayton Homes (Bean Station) 350
3 Grainger County 200
4 Clayton Homes (Rutledge) 200
5 Sexton Furniture Manufacturing LLC 150


Grainger County is acknowledged as a predominately rural and exurban county of the Greater Knoxville region. Agriculture has accounted for a large portion of the county economy throughout history due to the county's soil containing a mass amount of rich nutrients beneficial to select crops of choice. The tomato has been the major crop, though cattle raising continues to important gains. Grainger County tomatoes have in recent decades become nationally and internationally renowned.

In 2018, Grainger County was reported to have over 650 greenhouses, 923 farms producing 500 acres of field vegetables, and nearly 90,000 acres of farmland.

The county celebrates the tomato in an annual festival since 1992. Around thirty-thousand festival-goers across the state of Tennessee and the United States gather to witness events about the county's heritage and its significant agricultural impact across the state of Tennessee, enjoy live music performances, purchase local produce and handmade gifts, and take part in arts and crafts events. The Grainger County Tomato Festival takes place during the final weekend in July.

Real estate

Residential construction has been increasing in the county, with most occurring near the Cherokee Lake shoreline, the Bean Station area and the Blaine area. With a cost of living around $2,600, and an average housing cost of $420 monthly, it is one of the least expensive counties in Tennessee. In 2017, the median value of property in the county was $110,600, compared to $229,700 nationally.

Tourism and leisure

Cherokee Reservoir - German Creek - Bean Station, TN
Cherokee Lake near Bean Station

By the late 19th century, a tourism industry had flourished around the mineral springs flowing from the Clinch Mountain range. The Tate Springs Resort complex located in the Bean Station region of the county, provided accommodations for tourists and business travelers alike until the Great Depression. It included mineral baths and waters, an enormous resort hotel, a swimming pool and bathhouse, a springhouse constructed as a gazebo, private cabins, and a golf course. After the Great Depression, the resort had closed and the property was given to local authorities. A children's home and school occupied the space of the hotel and cabins, until a major fire destroyed the entire hotel in the 1960s. Today, the Tate Springs Springhouse, the bathhouse, and several cabins are what remains of the complex.

Since the 1940s, the county's tourism and recreational industry nonetheless sparked once again after the Tennessee Valley Authority's creation of Cherokee and Norris Lake in the southern and northern parts of the county respectively. Fishing, hiking, hunting, camping, golf, boating, water sports, and development of lakefront property seek to continue contributing to the county's economy.

Industry and commerce

Grainger County Industrial Park
Grainger County Industrial Park, located between Rutledge and Bean Station

In the county's early years, small businesses represented the secondary source of economic development. Gristmills, hatters, saddle makers, tailors, lawyers, and dry goods merchants supplied the many necessities for the county's isolated and spread-out agricultural communities.

The Shields family operated Holston Paper Mill, one of the earliest industries in the county. The Knoxville and Bristol Railroad, also known as the Peavine Railroad, ran through the Richland Creek Valley from Bean Station to Blaine. The tracks would later succumb to flooding after the damming of the Richland Valley by the TVA in the 1940s.

Clinchdale Lumber Company, a locally owned business, logged a significant portion of the county's timber in the early part of the 20th century. Afterwards, this timbering movement gave way to knitting mills and zinc mining in the Clinch River Valley in the northern part of the county. Around the late 20th century, Tennessee marble was quarried in the Thorn Hill region of Grainger County.

Economic hardship

Unlike neighboring counties such as Jefferson, Hamblen, and Knox, Grainger County does not have county-wide zoning ordinances, which has led to the uncontrolled and controversial development of RV campgrounds in predominately residential areas.

In 2010, it was reported that nearly two-thirds of Grainger County residents commute to cities in surrounding counties such as Morristown and Knoxville for work. With this, Grainger County was reported as one of five counties in the East Tennessee Development District region experiencing significant out-migration of young college-educated adults leaving Grainger County for urban economic hubs such as Knoxville and Morristown, due to the lack of employment opportunities in the county.

In the fiscal year 2020, Grainger County was recognized as one of twenty-four counties in the state of Tennessee at risk of becoming economically distressed.


The Grainger County School district has one high school, one middle school, four elementary/intermediate schools, one primary school, one K-12 school, and one alternative-placement school. The Grainger County School district has 3,637 students enrolled.

Primary School

  • Rutledge Primary School

Elementary Schools

  • Bean Station Elementary School
  • Joppa Elementary School
  • Rutledge Elementary School
  • Washburn School

Middle School

  • Rutledge Middle School

High Schools

  • Grainger High School
  • Washburn School

Alternative School

  • Grainger Academy


A report conducted by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations in 2018 found the top three infrastructure needs in Grainger County, with transportation at US$108 million, water and wastewater at US$11.4 million, and recreation US$1.7 million.


East Tennessee Crossing - The East Tennessee Crossing Meeting Clinch Mountain - NARA - 7718111
U.S. Route 25E in northern Grainger County near Thorn Hill

U.S. Routes 11W and 25E are the major arterial roadways in the county. US 25E, established as the East Tennessee Crossing Byway and Appalachian Development Corridor S, provides four-lane expressway north-south access to Hamblen and Claiborne counties. US 11W, established as Rutledge Pike and Memphis-to-Bristol Highway, provides four-lane expressway access in the municipalities of Bean Station and Blaine. The highway outside of these areas is two-lane.

State Routes 92, 131, 375 are the secondary roadways in the county. SR 92 provides two-lane access from Rutledge to the Jefferson County line near Cherokee Dam. SR 131 provides two-lane access to Union and Hancock counties, and the unincorporated communities of Washburn and Thorn Hill. SR 375, established as Lakeshore Drive, provides two-lane access along the northern shore of Cherokee Lake to SR 92 and US 25E.


Cherokee Dam, a hydroelectric dam constructed by the Tennessee Valley Authority in the early 1940s, is located at the Grainger-Jefferson county line and provides electricity for the surrounding region. The billing and operation of the electrical system is provided by Appalachian Electric Cooperative (AEC), a municipal power company that serves southern Grainger County excluding Blaine. AEC also provides the option for fiber broadband access for the service area.

Bean Station Utility District, (BSUD), provides municipal water access for southeastern Grainger County including the municipalities of Rutledge and Bean Station.

Knoxville Utilities Board provides electricity to southwestern Grainger County including the city of Blaine and the community of Powder Springs. Luttrell-Blaine-Corryton Utility District (LBCUD) provides municipal water services to this same region. The municipalities of Rutledge, Blaine, and the county's industrial park have access to municipal sewage treatment systems. The eastern portion of the county, which is the most populated region, does not have access to a sewage treatment system.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Grainger para niños

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