A shallow rectangle, only one hundred miles from north to south, TENNESSEE stretches 450 miles from the Mississippi to the Appalachians, and divides into three distinct regions.The marshy western third of the state occupies a low plateau edging down toward the Mississippi. Only in the far southwest corner do the bluffs rise high enough to permit a sizeable riverside settlement - the exhilarating port of Memphis.Tennessee's largest city is a magnet for music fans, as the birthplace of urban blues and long-time home of Elvis. Make sure to visit Graceland!
The fine plantation homes and tidy old towns of middle Tennessee's rolling farmland reflect the comfortable lifestyle of its pioneers; smack at the heart of this is Nashville, still country music's capital, despite upstart competition from Branson and Myrtle Beach.
The mountainous east shares its top attraction with North Carolina - the peaks, streams and meadows of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Tennessee's first white settlers, most of them British Protestants, arrived from across the mountains in the 1770s to settle in the hills and hollows of the Appalachians. Initially relations with the Cherokee were good. However, demand for land increased, and confrontations throughout the state culminated in 1838 with the forced removal of the Indians on the "Trail of Tears."
One of the main congressional opponents of this process was Davy Crockett, familiar from legend as the heavy-drinking hunter in a coonskin cap. When Civil War came, the plantation owners of the west maneuvered Tennessee into the Confederacy, against the wishes of the non-slaves holding small held farmers in the east. The last state to secede became the primary battlefield in the west, the site of 424 battles and skirmishes.Despite economic development to rival any in the country, soil erosion and farm mechanization led to a mass migration to the cities in the years before World War I. The fundamentalist beliefs of these transplanted hill-dwellers (whose folk and fiddle music served to spark Nashville's country scene) influenced a prohibition movement that kept all of Tennessee bone-dry until 1939, and still sees a majority of counties forbidding the sale of alcohol.
The New Deal of the 1930s brought significant changes. In particular, the Tennessee Valley Authority , created in 1933, harnessed the flood-prone Tennessee River , providing much-needed jobs and cheap power, and ignited the transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy.