General Description of Grainger County

General Nature of the County

Grainger County is in the northeastern part of Tennessee.  It is bordered on the north by Claiborne and Hancock Counties, on the south by Hamblen and Jefferson Counties, on the east by Hawkins County, and on the west by Knox and Union Counties.  The U. S. Department of Economic and Community Development estimated the population of Grainger County to be 17,400 in 1988.

The county is irregular in shape, measuring about 28 miles from northeast to southwest and about 12
miles from north to south.  It has 193,700 acres, which consists of 181,500 acres of land and 12,200 acres of water.  The county is divided roughly into the northern and southern parts by Clinch Mountain and the Poor Valley Knobs, which extend across the county from northeast to southwest.

The county is in the Southern Appalachian Ridges and Valleys major land resource area.  The soils in this
area formed under forest vegetation and are dominantly light in color.  The soils in the Clinch Mountain and Poor Valley Knobs area are shallow to deep over sandstone or shale bedrock.  The soils in the rest of the county are shallow to very deep, dominantly over limestone or shale bedrock.


The area that is now known as Grainger County, between the Clinch and Holston Rivers, was originally
inhabited by the Cherokee Indians.  It was settled by whites about 1785. The first settlements were south of Clinch Mountain, at Bean Station in the Richland Valley, and north of Clinch Mountain, at the head of
Flat Creek.  These settlers were largely Scotch-Irish and German.

The North Carolina Legislature established Grainger County on April 22, 1796 (Holt and others, 1976). The county originally included parts of present-day Claiborne, Hamblen, Campbell, Union, and Hawkins Counties. From 1801 to 1870, Grainger County was reduced in size to its present borders.  In 1801, the county seat was established at Rutledge, in the central part of the county, and the first courthouse was erected. Bean Station, at the eastern edge of the county, bordering Hawkins County, is growing as more
people move into the Cherokee Lake communities nearby.

Natural Resources

Grainger County has an abundant supply of limestone.  Numerous limestone quarries that provide gravel and lime products are throughout the county.

The county has a good supply of fresh water.  Streams that flow throughout the year are common.  There are two large areas of impounded water — Cherokee and Norris Lakes.


Industry in Grainger County employs more than 1,800 people.  The major enterprises in the county
include textile, furniture, and mobile home manufacturing; trailer making; and metal working.

The housing industry has expanded slightly in recent years, keeping pace with a growing population
in some parts of the county.  Residential subdivisions are becoming more common all over the county.  Most of the residential units are single-family dwellings, but a few multiple-family residential complexes have been built.

Transportation Facilities

U.S. Highways 11W and 25E and State Highway 92 merge in Grainger County, providing ready access to
the surrounding counties and to the cities of Knoxville and Morristown.  Rutledge is 30 miles from access to Interstate 40.  Grainger County has a good network of local roads and streets.  Several roads in remote parts of the county are unpaved.  Several motor freight companies located in nearby cities serve the county.

The airport nearest to Rutledge is in Morristown.  It is a medium-intensity municipal airport.  The nearest
commercial air service is provided by Knoxville’s McGhee-Tyson Airport.


In winter, the average temperature is 38 degrees F, and the average daily minimum temperature is 27
degrees.  The lowest temperature on record, which occurred at Jefferson City on January 21, 1985, is -26
degrees.  In summer, the average temperature is 75 degrees and the average daily maximum temperature is 87 degrees.  The highest recorded temperature, which occurred on August 21, 1983, is 102 degrees.

The total annual precipitation is 39.65 inches.  Of this, about 21 inches, or more than 50 percent, usually
falls in April through September.  The growing season for most crops falls within this period. In 2 years out of 10, the rainfall in April through September is less than 18 inches.  The heaviest 1-day rainfall during the period of record was 4.82 inches at Jefferson City on May 7, 1984.  Thunderstorms occur on about 47 days each year.

The average seasonal snowfall is about 10.4 inches.  The greatest snow depth at any one time during the period of record was 7 inches.  On the average, 1 day of the year has at least 1 inch of snow on the ground.
The average relative humidity in midafternoon is about 60 percent.  Humidity is higher at night, and the
average at dawn is about 85 percent.  The sun shines 65 percent of the time possible in summer and 45
percent in winter.  The prevailing wind is from the northeast.  Average windspeed is highest, 9 miles per
hour, in spring.


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