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Lake County, Tennessee facts for kids

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Lake County
Lake County Courthouse in Tiptonville
Lake County Courthouse in Tiptonville
Map of Tennessee highlighting Lake 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 1870
Named for Reelfoot Lake
Seat Tiptonville
Largest town Tiptonville
 • Total 194 sq mi (500 km2)
 • Land 166 sq mi (430 km2)
 • Water 28 sq mi (70 km2)  14%%
 • Total 7,832
 • Density 47/sq mi (18/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 8th

Lake County is a county located in the U.S. state of Tennessee. As of the 2010 census, the population was 7,832, making it the fifth-least populous county in Tennessee. Its county seat is Tiptonville. It is the state's northwesternmost county, sharing a border with Kentucky and separated from Missouri to the west by the Mississippi River. Reelfoot Lake occupies much of the northern part of the county.


The history of Lake County has been largely defined by Reelfoot Lake, a natural lake created by the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811 and 1812. It is surrounded by wetlands. This territory was originally included in Obion County.

In 1862, during the Civil War, the Battle of Island Number Ten took place in the Mississippi River, just off the shores of Obion County, in territory now part of Lake County.

The county was organized in 1870, during the Reconstruction era. its residents had long complained about the difficulty of having to traverse swampy areas around Reelfoot Lake to reach the county seat, then Troy, Tennessee. After the new Lake County was established, Tiptonville was designated as the seat of government.

In 1907, a violent conflict took place in Lake and Obion counties when a private company, the West Tennessee Land Company, gained control of Reelfoot Lake and announced plans to drain it. A band of local renegades, known as the "Night Riders of Reelfoot Lake," harassed the company's employees, eventually kidnapping and killing one. Governor Malcolm Patterson personally led the Tennessee National Guard into the area, and arrested hundreds of suspected Night Riders.

The state gained title to Reelfoot Lake in 1914. To prevent private development from restricting its use, Governor Austin Peay designated the lake as a hunting and fishing reserve in 1925. This was the precedent for the larger area to be preserved as the modern Reelfoot Lake State Park.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 194 square miles (500 km2), of which 166 square miles (430 km2) is land and 28 square miles (73 km2) (14%) is water. It is the fifth-smallest county in Tennessee by area.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

State protected areas

  • Reelfoot Lake State Natural Area (part)
  • Reelfoot Lake State Park (part)
  • Tumbleweed Wildlife Management Area (part)


From 1950 to 1990 the population declined noticeably, as many African Americans moved to cities or to the West Coast in the Great Migration of the second half of the 20th century.

Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 2,428
1880 3,968 63.4%
1890 5,304 33.7%
1900 7,368 38.9%
1910 8,704 18.1%
1920 9,075 4.3%
1930 10,486 15.5%
1940 11,235 7.1%
1950 11,655 3.7%
1960 9,572 −17.9%
1970 7,896 −17.5%
1980 7,455 −5.6%
1990 7,129 −4.4%
2000 7,954 11.6%
2010 7,832 −1.5%
Est. 2015 7,576 −3.3%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2014
USA Lake County, Tennessee.csv age pyramid
Age pyramid Lake County

As of the census of 2000, there were 7,954 people, 2,410 households, and 1,614 families residing in the county. The population density was 49 people per square mile (19/km²). There were 2,716 housing units at an average density of 17 per square mile (6/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 66.63% White, 31.19% Black or African American, 0.39% Native American, 0.14% Asian, 0.62% from other races, and 1.03% from two or more races. 1.37% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 2,410 households out of which 28.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.20% were married couples living together, 16.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.00% were non-families. 30.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.92.

In the county, the population was spread out with 17.70% under the age of 18, 13.70% from 18 to 24, 33.80% from 25 to 44, 21.50% from 45 to 64, and 13.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 151.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 163.40 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $21,995, and the median income for a family was $30,339. Males had a median income of $25,082 versus $18,700 for females. The per capita income for the county was $10,794. About 19.90% of families and 23.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 35.10% of those under age 18 and 25.10% of those age 65 or over.



Unincorporated communities

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