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Whitwell, Tennessee
View of Whitwell with the Cumberland Plateau in the background
View of Whitwell with the Cumberland Plateau in the background
Home of the Children's Holocaust Memorial
Location of Whitwell in Marion County, Tennessee.
Location of Whitwell in Marion County, Tennessee.
Country United States
State Tennessee
County Marion
Incorporated 1956
Named for Thomas Whitwell, inventor and mining entrepreneur
 • Total 3.51 sq mi (9.09 km2)
 • Land 3.51 sq mi (9.09 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.01 km2)
679 ft (207 m)
 • Total 1,699
 • Estimate 
 • Density 493.02/sq mi (190.36/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 423
FIPS code 47-80620
GNIS feature ID 1304575

Whitwell is a city in Marion County, Tennessee, United States, approximately 24 miles northwest of Chattanooga. The population was 1,699 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Chattanooga, TN–GA Metropolitan Statistical Area.


The town that became Whitwell was originally known as Cheekville, but renamed "Whitwell" for Thomas Whitwell, a Welsh metallurgist and cofounder of the Southern States Coal, Iron and Land Company, who was killed in a mine explosion in 1878. Whitwell was incorporated as a city in 1956, having grown as a mining town due to the abundance of coal in the mountains near the town. In 1981 there was a major mining accident when 13 coal miners were killed in an explosion. A full list of the names of those killed in the mine explosion is on a monument at Whitwell High School. Whitwell also has an annual Labor Day celebration that has been celebrated for over 50 consecutive years.


Whitwell is located at 35°11′51″N 85°31′9″W / 35.19750°N 85.51917°W / 35.19750; -85.51917 (35.197570, -85.519082). It is situated in the southwestern Sequatchie Valley at the base of a relatively steep escarpment of the Cumberland Plateau. The Sequatchie River passes just east of the city, and forms a portion of its southeastern boundary.

Tennessee State Route 28 (Hudson Street), which forms part of the main north-south corridor in the valley, connects Whitwell with Dunlap to the north and Jasper to the south. State Route 283 connects Whitwell with Powells Crossroads across the Sequatchie river to the east, and State Route 108 (South Main Street) connects Whitwell with Grundy County atop the Plateau to the northwest.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.3 square miles (8.5 km2), of which 3.3 square miles (8.5 km2) is land and 0.30% is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 906
1960 1,857
1970 1,669 −10.1%
1980 1,783 6.8%
1990 1,622 −9.0%
2000 1,660 2.3%
2010 1,699 2.3%
2019 (est.) 1,730 1.8%

2020 census

Whitwell racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 1,489 90.74%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 20 1.22%
Native American 3 0.18%
Asian 6 0.37%
Other/Mixed 65 3.96%
Hispanic or Latino 58 3.53%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 1,641 people, 784 households, and 536 families residing in the city.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 1,669 people, 714 households, and 469 families residing in the city. The population density was 514.8 people per square mile (197.5/km2). There were 825 housing units. The racial makeup of the city was 97.5% White, 0.9% African American, 0.2% Asian, 1.2% from other races, and 0.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.1% of the population.

Paper Clips Project

Whitwell has become renowned for the Paper Clips Project, a Holocaust memorial and educational project, that was carried out by children of the local middle school starting in 1998. A subsequent documentary was made about the children's achievement. This project started because students at the local middle school wanted to visually grasp how much six million was. The students started collecting paper clips, one for every Jewish individual that died in the Holocaust during World War II. This project soon attracted media attention and international support. Many Jewish notables sent paper clips representing lost members of their families. The children collected well over the number of paper clips they wanted (11 million, representing all noncombatant prisoners---Jew and Gentile---killed by the Nazis). The total collected number of paper clips now stands between ten and fifty million. This number is approximately equal to the total number of war deaths between 1939-1945. The rail car that appears in the movie is original rolling stock, actually used to transport Jews to the concentration camps. This rail car is located at the Whitwell Middle School. The Middle School routinely hosts Holocaust survivors as well as other guest speakers on the subject of the Holocaust.


Further information: Marion County, Tennessee#Education

Whitwell has three schools: Whitwell Elementary School, Whitwell Middle School, and Whitwell High School.

In 2018, Whitwell High School's Football team, the Whitwell Tigers, finished the season 15–0, defeated Cornersville in the 1-A State Championship 7–6.

Notable persons

  • Jon Coffelt (b. 1963), artist
  • Hillis Layne (1918–2010), former Major League Baseball player
  • Bennie Tate (1901–1973), former Major League Baseball player
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