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Hamilton County, Tennessee facts for kids

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Hamilton County
Hamilton County Courthouse in Chattanooga
Hamilton County Courthouse in Chattanooga
Official seal of Hamilton County
Map of Tennessee highlighting Hamilton 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 October 25, 1819
Named for Alexander Hamilton
Seat Chattanooga
Largest city Chattanooga
 • Total 576 sq mi (1,490 km2)
 • Land 542 sq mi (1,400 km2)
 • Water 33 sq mi (90 km2)  5.8%%
 • Total 366,207 Increase
 • Density 620/sq mi (240/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 3rd

Hamilton County is a county located in the U.S. state of Tennessee. It is located in the southern part of East Tennessee on the border with Georgia. As of the 2020 census, the population was 366,207, making it the fourth-most populous county in Tennessee. Its county seat is Chattanooga, located along the Tennessee River. The county was named for Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury.

Hamilton County is one of 95 counties within Tennessee. Hamilton County is part of the Chattanooga, TN-GA Metropolitan Statistical Area. The county was created on October 25, 1819. Hamilton County expanded to meet the state line with Georgia after absorbing parts of three different counties including Bledsoe, Marion, and Rhea. Part of the traditional Cherokee homeland, the county was created after the Cherokee signed a treaty in 1817 with the United States and ceded land north of the Hiwassee River. In the 21st century, Hamilton County is the eighth-highest income Tennessee location by per capita income ($26,588).


Hamilton County was formed on October 25, 1819 from portions of Rhea County and Indian land. It was named after Alexander Hamilton, an officer in the American Revolutionary War, member of the Continental Congress, the first US Secretary of Treasury, and one of the founding fathers of the United States.

Hamilton County was the site of an important saltpeter mine during the Civil War. Saltpeter is the main ingredient of gunpowder and was obtained by leaching the earth from caves. Lookout Mountain Cave was a major source of saltpeter during the Civil War. The mine was operated by Robert Cravens, who owned the property where the cave is located. In May 1861, Cravens contracted with the Tennessee Military and Financial Board to deliver 20,000 pounds of saltpeter. On the 24th of the same month, he reported that he had ten hoppers already set up in his cave. Cravens was also mining Nickajack Cave in nearby Marion County. In 1862 he quit mining at Lookout Mountain Cave and rented the cave to the Confederate Nitre and Mining Bureau, which mined the cave from June 1862 through July 1863. Mining ceased when Chattanooga was occupied by Federal forces in 1863.

In 1919 James County, Tennessee went bankrupt and became a part of Hamilton County in April 1919. James County had been established by the Tennessee General Assembly in January 1871 and was named after Reverend Jesse J. James.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 576 square miles (1,490 km2), of which 542 square miles (1,400 km2) is land and 33 square miles (85 km2) (5.8%) is water. Hamilton County is one of the few counties in the United States to border 10 other counties.

Natural areas of interest

Raccoon Mountain Caverns is a show cave located 8 miles northwest of downtown Chattanooga. It was originally explored in 1929 by Leo Lambert who developed trails and installed lights and opened the cave to the public on June 28, 1931. The cave was opened under the name Tennessee Caverns. The operators of the cave claim that its explored length is over 5.5 miles.

The Crystal Caverns Cave Spider, Nesticus furtivus, is only known from this one cave. Cave guides will occasionally spot one of these rare spiders and point it out to the tourists.

Ruby Falls Cave is a show cave located on the side of Lookout Mountain south of downtown Chattanooga. It was discovered by accident on December 28, 1928 when it was intersected by an elevator shaft that was being drilled to develop Lookout Mountain Cave as a commercial cave. Ruby Falls Cave was intersected at a depth of 260 from the surface and Lookout Mountain Cave was reached later at a depth of 420 feet below the surface. The entire project was the work of cave developer Leo Lambert. He named the new cave's waterfall after his wife Ruby. The lower cave, Lookout Mountain Cave, opened to the public on December 30, 1929. Ruby Falls opened to the public on June 16, 1930. Ruby Falls Cave, with its spectacular waterfall proved the more popular of the two caves and it is the only one open to the public at the present time.

Adjacent counties

National protected area

State protected areas

  • Booker T. Washington State Park
  • Chickamauga Wildlife Management Area (part)
  • Cumberland Trail (part)
  • Falling Water Falls State Natural Area
  • Harrison Bay State Park
  • North Chickamauga Creek State Natural Area (part)

Major highways

  • I-24
  • I-75
  • US 11 / Lee Highway
  • US 27.svg U.S. Route 27
  • US 41.svg U.S. Route 41
  • US 64.svg U.S. Route 64
  • US 72.svg U.S. Route 72
  • US 74.svg U.S. Route 74
  • US 76.svg U.S. Route 76
  • US 127.svg U.S. Route 127
  • Tennessee 58.svg State Route 58
  • Tennessee 153.svg State Route 153
  • Secondary Tennessee 319.svg State Route 319


Historical population
Census Pop.
1820 821
1830 2,276 177.2%
1840 8,175 259.2%
1850 10,075 23.2%
1860 13,258 31.6%
1870 17,241 30.0%
1880 23,642 37.1%
1890 53,482 126.2%
1900 61,695 15.4%
1910 89,267 44.7%
1920 115,954 29.9%
1930 159,497 37.6%
1940 180,478 13.2%
1950 208,255 15.4%
1960 237,905 14.2%
1970 254,236 6.9%
1980 287,740 13.2%
1990 285,536 −0.8%
2000 307,896 7.8%
2010 336,463 9.3%
2020 366,207 8.8%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2019
USA Hamilton County, Tennessee.csv age pyramid
Age pyramid Hamilton County

2020 census

Hamilton County racial and ethnic composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 249,939 68.25%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 63,979 17.47%
Native American 770 0.21%
Asian 8,139 2.22%
Pacific Islander 131 0.04%
Other/Mixed 16,174 4.42%
Hispanic or Latino 27,075 7.39%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 366,207 people, 148,157 households, and 91,469 families residing in the county.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 336,463 people, 136,682 households, and 88,149 families residing in the county. The population density was 620.78 people per square mile. The racial makeup of the county was 74.75% White, 20.21% Black or African American, 0.35% Native American, 1.86% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, and 1.46% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 4.46% of the population.

Out of all of the households, 25.49% had children under the age of 18 living in them, 46.34% were married couples living together, 13.86% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.29% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.51% were non-families. 29.35% of households were made up of individuals, and 10.34% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39, and the average family size was 2.95.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 21.58% under the age of 18, 63.73% ages 18 to 64, and 14.69% aged 65 and older. The media age was 39.3 years. 51.88% of the population were females, and 48.12% were males.

The median household income in the county was $46,544, and the median family income was $60,184. Males had a median income of $45,835 versus $34,342 for females. The per capita income for the county was $27,052. About 12.1% of families and 16.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.5% of those under the age of 18 and 8.6% of those age 65 and over.




Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities


Colleges and universities

  • Chattanooga State Community College – website
  • Southern Adventist University – website
  • University of Tennessee at Chattanooga – website
  • Richmont Graduate University – website

Public schools

Public schools in Hamilton County are operated by Hamilton County Schools.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Hamilton (Tennessee) para niños

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