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Tullahoma, Tennessee
City of Tullahoma
Caboose Park in downtown Tullahoma
Caboose Park in downtown Tullahoma
Queen City
Tennessee's Rising Star
Location of Tullahoma in Coffee and Franklin Counties, Tennessee.
Location of Tullahoma in Coffee and Franklin Counties, Tennessee.
Country United States
State Tennessee
Counties Coffee, Franklin
Incorporated October 4, 1852
 • Total 23.50 sq mi (60.86 km2)
 • Land 23.44 sq mi (60.71 km2)
 • Water 0.06 sq mi (0.15 km2)
1,070 ft (326 m)
 • Total 18,655
 • Estimate 
 • Density 834.26/sq mi (322.10/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP Codes
Area code(s) 931
FIPS code 47-75320
GNIS feature ID 1272964

Tullahoma is a city in Coffee and Franklin counties in southern Middle Tennessee, United States. The population was 18,655 at the 2010 census. In 2019, the population was estimated to be 19,555. It is the principal city of the Tullahoma micropolitan area (a 2009 estimate placed it at 99,927), which consists of Coffee, Franklin, and Moore counties and is the second largest micropolitan area in Tennessee.


Tullahoma was founded in 1852 as a work camp along the new Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad. 12 years after its founding, it left the Union to become its own free state. Its name is derived from the Choctaw language, and means "red rock". An alternative explanation (see Sam Davis Elliott's Soldier of Tennessee and sources cited therein) of the name is that Peter Decherd, who donated the land for the railroad right-of-way (and was therefore given the right to name two stations along the line), named one station Decherd, and the other Tulkahoma (later changed to Tullahoma). Tulkahoma was the name of Decherd's favorite horse, which was itself named for an Indian chief his grandfather had captured. Tullahoma shared its name with Tullahoma, Mississippi which was later changed to Grenada.

Prior to Tullahoma or the railroad, the area was settled by farmers. These farmers came mostly from Virginia and North Carolina. Early settlers were Moore, Deckerd, Anderson, Ragon, Montgomery, Ferrell, Stephenson, and Gunn. A spring known to the first settlers as Bottle Spring, and later as John Gunn's Spring, is today Big Springs. This spring provided water for the steam locomotives.

In April 1861, Company B, 1st Regiment of Tennessee Volunteers, formed Peter Turney's division in Tullahoma. The division joined Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. The division fought in the battles of Bull Run, Fredricksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Petersburg, and surrendered to U.S. Grant at Appomattox. The town became highly significant during the Civil War and served as the headquarters for the Confederate Army of Tennessee in 1863. The campaign of that year, which ultimately delivered control of Middle Tennessee to the Union and led to the eventual capture of Chattanooga, is known as the Tullahoma Campaign.

Caboose Park, with buildings along Atlantic Street in the background

Tullahoma was then still little more than a rough outpost, with no paved streets. 1863 was a wet year, and the place became known to the bedraggled troops of both sides as a place of endless mud. One witty officer on Confederate General William Hardee's staff is said to have written his own account of the origin of the name: "It is from two Greek words - 'Tulla' meaning mud, and 'Homa,' meaning more mud." The selection and use of Tullahoma as a headquarters by Confederate General Braxton Bragg has since been much criticized by military historians. Although the location was strategic with regard to the road and rail network, it had no strong natural defenses and little was done to fortify it during Bragg's occupation. Eventually the town was evacuated without a battle.

After the war, Tullahoma recovered slowly, but began to prosper from its vital railroad link. During this period, Tullahoma became renowned for its educational facilities, a rarity in the area at the time. At the turn of the 20th century, Tullahoma became a popular health destination, with many spas across town. Manufacturing grew up in the area, notably of shoes, clothing, and sporting goods. In 1924, the General Shoe Corporation was established there, which would eventually grow into Genesco, a diversified apparel firm which is Tennessee's oldest listed firm on the New York Stock Exchange. From the early 1900s thru today, a variety of sports products have been manufactured in Tullahoma, including baseballs, bats, and golf clubs by Campbell Mfg, Wilsons, Worth Sports, and Rawlings. In 1939, U.S. Route 41A was built through town, giving Tullahoma access to Nashville, 71 miles (114 km) to the northwest, and Chattanooga, 77 miles (124 km) to the southeast.

A famous brand of whiskey, George Dickel, has its roots in Tullahoma. Jack Daniel's whiskey is distilled 12 miles (19 km) southwest of Tullahoma in Lynchburg.

In the early to mid-20th century, the area benefited from considerable federal investment and development, from the Tennessee Valley Authority to the establishment of Camp Forrest, an infantry training center and later POW camp, and Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC), where the Air Force and NASA did early wind tunnel testing. Later the state located two institutions of higher learning there, Motlow State Community College, and the University of Tennessee Space Institute.

Today manufacturing is a smaller part of the Tullahoma economy, but the town's growth has been steady, although slow, based on a mixture of education, services, tourism, and retail. The presence of AEDC and the Space Institute, combined with a convenient proximity to the aerospace center of Huntsville, Alabama, has bred a small but thriving aeronautical industry as well.

Tullahoma celebrated its 150th (sesquicentennial) anniversary on October 4, 2002.


Tullahoma Utilities Board (TUB) built a fiber-to-the-premise structure in 2006 and began billing customers in 2009 under its LightTUBe division, which offers television and telephone service, as well as high-speed broadband. In the fall of 2006, the city did a feasibility study, and in December of that year, the TUB board of directors voted to move forward with the project. TUB held open houses and a public hearing to inform residents about its plans.

The TUB board had endorsed the fiber project on a unanimous vote of 5-0, but the City Council’s approval was needed to secure funding for the project. In April 2007, the council gave the project a green light, and fiber was being hung by December 2007. TUB installed approximately 200 miles of fiber optics. By the summer of 2008, the utility was conducting beta testing with customers, and in January 2009, TUB began billing its first customers.

Today, the utility has approximately 3,500 customers for its LightTUBe system, which includes Internet service, TV, and telephone. Soon after it started the TV service, management decided to provide a TV station for community events and sports, as well as a three-day-a-week news broadcast, and a weekly talk show.

TUB's LightTUBe division began offering gigabit broadband service in 2009, making Tullahoma one of the smallest cities to have a gigabit fiber optic system and one of only a handful of cities in the country to offer the high-speed internet.


Tullahoma is located in the southwest corner of Coffee County at 35°22′7″N 86°12′48″W / 35.36861°N 86.21333°W / 35.36861; -86.21333 (35.368511, -86.213258), and extends south into Franklin County. It sits on the edge of the Highland Rim, where the topography is flatter than in the surrounding area. The region was known as "the Barrens" to the first settlers.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 23.6 square miles (61.0 km2), of which 23.5 square miles (60.8 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km2), or 0.30%, is water.


Climate is characterized by relatively high temperatures and evenly distributed precipitation throughout the year. The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is "Cfa" (Humid Subtropical Climate).

Climate data for Tullahoma, Tennessee
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 10
Average low °C (°F) -0.6
Precipitation mm (inches) 142
Source: Weatherbase


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 586
1870 589 0.5%
1880 1,083 83.9%
1890 2,439 125.2%
1900 2,684 10.0%
1910 3,049 13.6%
1920 3,479 14.1%
1930 4,023 15.6%
1940 4,549 13.1%
1950 7,562 66.2%
1960 12,242 61.9%
1970 15,311 25.1%
1980 15,800 3.2%
1990 16,761 6.1%
2000 17,994 7.4%
2010 18,655 3.7%
2019 (est.) 19,555 4.8%

As of the 2010 census, there were 18,655 people, 7,717 households, and 5,161 families residing in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 88.1% White, 7.0% African American, 0.2% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 1.1% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.1% of the population.

South Jackson Street

As of the 2000 census, there were 17,994 people, 7,336 households, and 5,039 families residing in the city. The population density was 809.6 people per square mile (312.5/km2). There were 7,890 housing units at an average density of 355.0 per square mile (137.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 89.69% White, 6.76% African American, 0.28% Native American, 1.01% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.64% from other races, and 1.57% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.71% of the population.

There were 7,336 households, out of which 32.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.9% were married couples living together, 13.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.3% were non-families. Of all households 27.3% were made up of individuals, and 11.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 25.4% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 26.9% from 25 to 44, 23.0% from 45 to 64, and 16.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,119, and the median income for a family was $39,797. Males had a median income of $33,662 versus $20,962 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,002. About 14.2% of families and 17.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.0% of those under age 18 and 13.0% of those age 65 or over.

Performing arts

Tullahoma is renowned for the performing arts that reside within the city. Tullahoma High School boasts in its arts programs - including choral, instrumental, theatrical, and visual arts. The choral department was founded under Ann S. Baldwin and had a show choir that began in 1976, one of the first show choirs in the area. The group performed nationwide winning state, regional, and national titles in competitions while also regularly participating in choral festivals and adjudication opportunities. The THS Band also is recognized in Middle Tennessee for their contribution to the instrumental arts. They have won numerous contests for their marching band as well as their symphonic band. Reviving in the past two years is the theatre program, under the direction of Aaron Miller. The past two years include productions such as The Princess Bride, Beauty and the Beast, and The Phantom of the Opera.

Outside of the Tullahoma City Schools district lies many additional venues for the performing arts. The Annual 41A Music Festival is held in Tullahoma each year to display local music acts as well as some bigger names, including Dustin Lynch. Also in Tullahoma is the Fine Arts Center which proudly displays new artwork monthly from local visual artists in the region. South Jackson Civic Center is a theater in the city that hosts the South Jackson Civic Association, P.A.C.T. (Performing Arts for Children and Teens), and Community Playhouse, Inc. All three organizations produce multiple shows annually ranging from classic plays such as A Christmas Carol to Broadway musicals such as Guys and Dolls and Oliver! and even an annual show production under the direction of Peggy Burton, South Jackson Goes Country.


The Tullahoma Regional Airport operates on an airport originally constructed in 1942 for the U. S. Army Air Corps and features wide heavy duty runways, a large ramp, taxiways and large hangars. Over 100 aircraft are presently based at the airport, with additional capacity available. Over 2,000 transient aircraft visit the airport annually.


Tullahoma hosts two state institutions of higher learning, Motlow State Community College and the University of Tennessee Space Institute.

K–12 public education is provided through a city school system.

Tullahoma High School "Wildcat" athletic teams compete in the TSSAA in public school divisions. The Tullahoma Wildcat Football Team is currently in the 4A classification while all other team sports compete in 3A.

Notable people

  • Dewon Brazelton, baseball player, born in Tullahoma
  • Eric Clutton, resides in Tullahoma; popularly known as Doctor Diesel, he is a renowned designer of aeromodels and the FRED experimental aircraft.
  • Isham G. Harris, politician and former Tennessee governor, born near Tullahoma
  • David Hess, baseball player, born in Tullahoma
  • Little Richard, rock and roll pioneer, lived in Tullahoma at the time of his death in 2020.
  • Antonio London, football player, born in Tullahoma
  • Dustin Lynch, country singer, born in Tullahoma
  • Steve Matthews, football player, born in Tullahoma
  • Bryan Morris, baseball player, born in Tullahoma
  • Jordan Sheffield, baseball player, born in Tullahoma
  • Justus Sheffield, baseball player, born in Tullahoma, brother of Jordan Sheffield
  • Ally Walker, actress, born in Tullahoma
  • Thomas A. Wiseman, judge and politician, born in Tullahoma

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