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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 7,005 Decrease
 • 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 northwest corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee. As of the 2020 census, the population was 7,005, making it the fifth-least populous county in Tennessee. Its county seat is Tiptonville. It shares a border with Kentucky to the north and is separated from Missouri to the west by the Mississippi River.

Reelfoot Lake, formed after the New Madrid earthquakes in the early 19th century, occupies much of the northern part of the county. Issues of control of the lake and the development of cotton plantations in this part of the county resulted in violence by local farmers against corporate owners in 1908; the state called in the militia to suppress night riding. Reelfoot Lake and surrounding property were finally acquired by the state beginning in 1914. It is now within the Reelfoot Lake State Park and preserved for public use. The Northwest Correctional Complex in Tiptonville, a state prison first opened in 1981, can house up to 2,391 male prisoners, a significant share of the county's population.


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%
2020 7,005 −10.6%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2020 2020
USA Lake County, Tennessee.csv age pyramid
Age pyramid Lake County

2020 census

Lake County racial composition
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 4,755 67.88%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 1,832 26.15%
Native American 15 0.21%
Asian 12 0.17%
Pacific Islander 5 0.07%
Other/Mixed 211 3.01%
Hispanic or Latino 175 2.5%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 7,005 people, 2,243 households, and 1,498 families residing in the county.



Unincorporated communities


  • Lake County High School (9–12)
  • Lara Kendall Elementary School (K–8)
  • Margaret Newton Elementary School (K–6)

See also

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

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