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Marion County, Tennessee facts for kids

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Marion County
Marion County Courthouse in Jasper
Marion County Courthouse in Jasper
Map of Tennessee highlighting Marion 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 1817
Named for Francis Marion
Seat Jasper
Largest town Jasper
 • Total 512 sq mi (1,330 km2)
 • Land 498 sq mi (1,290 km2)
 • Water 14 sq mi (40 km2)  2.8%%
 • Total 28,837 Increase
 • Density 57/sq mi (22/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 4th

Marion County is a county located in the U.S. state of Tennessee. It is located in East Tennessee. As of the 2010 census, the population was 28,237. Its county seat is Jasper. Marion County is part of the Chattanooga, TN–GA Metropolitan Statistical Area. Marion County is in the Central time zone, while Chattanooga proper is in the Eastern time zone.


Marion County was established in 1817 from lands acquired from the Cherokee.

In 1779 Cherokee chief Dragging Canoe moved down the Tennessee River from Chickamauga Creek to Running Water creek, and helped establish the associated town of Nickajack in front of the entrance to Nickajack Cave. In 1794, this town was attacked and burned. This attack was led by Colonel James Orr of Nashville, Tennessee. The town was rebuilt and the Chickamauga Band of Indians continued to live here until 1838, when all remaining Indians were removed from Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia via the Trail of Tears.

Lock at Hales Bar Dam, 1916

In the Spring of 1861, Robert Cravens of Chattanooga began mining saltpeter, the main ingredient of gunpowder, at Nickajack Cave. This operation was eventually taken over by the Confederate Niter Bureau. At one point, Nickajack Cave was one of the main sources of saltpeter for the Confederate States of America. Nickajack Cave was visited by thousands of Civil War troops, who moved up and down the Tennessee River on boats.

Another important saltpeter mine during the Civil War was Monteagle Saltpeter Cave, located in Cave Cove, approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) southeast of Monteagle. During the Civil War, it was referred to as Battle Creek Cave. A 1917 visitor to the cave reported 25 or 30 old hoppers remaining in the cave.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, coal and iron ore mining industries dominated the county's economy. Mines operated in Whitwell and Inman, and smelters operated in South Pittsburg.

Hales Bar Dam, built along the Tennessee River in Marion County between 1905 and 1913, was one of the nation's first major dams constructed across a navigable channel. The Tennessee Valley Authority replaced Hales Bar with Nickajack Dam further downstream in the 1960s, though the Hales Bar powerhouse (now a boathouse) still stands.


Foster Falls, Tennessee
Foster Falls, at one end of the Fiery Gizzard Trail

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 512 square miles (1,330 km2), of which 498 square miles (1,290 km2) is land and 14 square miles (36 km2) (2.8%) is water. Marion is one of three Tennessee counties, along with Bledsoe and Sequatchie, located in the Sequatchie Valley, a long, narrow valley slicing through the southeastern Cumberland Plateau. The Sequatchie River, which drains the valley, empties into the Tennessee River just south of Jasper.

Nickajack Dam is located along the Tennessee River near Jasper, creating Nickajack Lake. The section of the river immediately downstream from the dam is part of Guntersville Lake. The Raccoon Mountain Pumped-Storage Plant is located in the extreme southeastern part of the county.

Adjacent counties

State protected areas

  • Chimneys State Natural Area
  • Cummings Cove Wildlife Management Area
  • Franklin State Forest (part)
  • Hicks Gap State Natural Area
  • Prentice Cooper State Forest
  • Sequatchie Cave State Natural Area
  • South Cumberland State Park (part)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1820 3,888
1830 5,508 41.7%
1840 6,070 10.2%
1850 6,314 4.0%
1860 6,190 −2.0%
1870 6,841 10.5%
1880 10,910 59.5%
1890 15,411 41.3%
1900 17,281 12.1%
1910 18,820 8.9%
1920 17,402 −7.5%
1930 17,549 0.8%
1940 19,140 9.1%
1950 20,520 7.2%
1960 21,036 2.5%
1970 20,577 −2.2%
1980 24,416 18.7%
1990 24,860 1.8%
2000 27,776 11.7%
2010 28,237 1.7%
2020 28,837 2.1%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2014
USA Marion County, Tennessee.csv age pyramid
Age pyramid Marion County

2020 census

Marion County racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 25,689 89.08%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 1,033 3.58%
Native American 93 0.32%
Asian 148 0.51%
Pacific Islander 2 0.01%
Other/Mixed 1,271 4.41%
Hispanic or Latino 601 2.08%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 28,837 people, 11,477 households, and 8,114 families residing in the county.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 28,237 people, 11,403 households, and 8,030 families residing in the county. The population density was 57 people per square mile (22/km2). There were 12,954 housing units at an average density of 26 per square mile (10/km2).

The racial makeup of the county was 93.9% White(non-Hispanic), 3.6% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.21% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.27% from other races, and 1.2% from two or more races. 1.3% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 22.80% under the age of 18 and 8.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43.9 years. The female population was 50.9%.

The median income for a household in the county was $31,419, and the median income for a family was $36,351. Males had a median income of $30,236 versus $21,778 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,419. About 10.80% of families and 14.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.00% of those under age 18 and 14.30% of those age 65 or over.



Marion County Airport, also known as Brown Field, is a county-owned, public-use airport located four nautical miles (7 km) southeast of the central business district of Jasper.


  • I-24
  • US 41
  • US 64
  • US 72
  • SR 2
  • SR 27
  • SR 28
  • SR 56
  • SR 108
  • SR 134
  • SR 156
  • SR 283
  • SR 377
  • SR 422
  • Orme Mountain Road

Parks and natural features

Nickajack Cave in Marion County, located 0.6 miles south of Shellmound Station on the west side of the Tennessee River, is one of the most historical caves in Tennessee. It is currently part of a park run by the city of New Hope. A paved hiking trail leads to an observation deck at the entrance to the cave where visitors can watch the bats leave the cave at dusk. The cave was used by tourists and as a show cave, but in 1968 the cave was flooded when Tennessee Valley Authority constructed Nickajack Dam 6 miles (9.7 km) downstream to replace the aging Hales Bar Dam.





Unincorporated communities


The schools in Marion County are:

  • Jasper Elementary School
  • Jasper Middle School
  • Marion County High School
  • Monteagle Elementary School
  • South Pittsburg Elementary
  • South Pittsburg High School
  • Whitwell Elementary School
  • Whitwell Middle School
  • Whitwell High School
  • Richard Hardy Memorial School

Notable people

  • Artist Jon Coffelt (b. May 16, 1963) was born in Dunlap, Tennessee, raised in Griffith Creek and now lives and works in New York City.
  • Dragging Canoe, Cherokee leader, lived in the town of Running Water at the mouth of Running Water creek on the Tennessee River.
  • Judge John T. Raulston, who presided over the Scopes Trial in 1925.
  • Sequoyah, Cherokee scholar, lived in the Marion County area. Sequoyah is famous for developing a Cherokee alphabet, making the Cherokee Nation literate in their own language. A bust honoring Sequoyah is in the town of South Pittsburgh in front of the Beene Pearson Public Library.
  • Peter Turney, Governor of Tennessee and Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court, was born in Jasper.
  • Eric Westmoreland, NFL player
  • Eddie Brown, NFL player
  • Leslie Rogers Darr, United States District Judge, Eastern District of Tennessee
  • Travis Randall McDonough, United States District Judge, Eastern District of Tennessee
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