Rutledge, Tennessee

City in Tennessee, United States
36°16′48″N 83°31′5″W / 36.28000°N 83.51806°W / 36.28000; -83.51806CountryUnited StatesStateTennesseeCountyGraingerIncorporated1797[1]Reincorporated1955[2]Named forGeorge RutledgeGovernment • TypeMayor-aldermen • MayorFred Sykes • Vice MayorBenny Atkins • Aldermen
List of Aldermen
  • Ed Boling
  • Martha Cameron
  • Jason Day
  • Benny Atkins
Area • Total5.54 sq mi (14.34 km2) • Land5.53 sq mi (14.33 km2) • Water0.01 sq mi (0.01 km2)Elevation
1,017 ft (310 m)Population
 • Total1,321 • Density238.84/sq mi (92.21/km2)Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST)) • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)ZIP code
Area code865FIPS code47-65820[6]GNIS feature ID1269919[7]

Rutledge is a city in and the county seat of Grainger County, Tennessee.[8] The city is part of both the Knoxville metropolitan area and the Morristown metropolitan area.[9] As of the 2020 census, the city had a total population of 1,321.


Downtown Rutledge, circa 1910s

Rutledge was established and incorporated in 1797 and named for General George Rutledge, a prominent citizen in nearby Sullivan County. At the time of its incorporation, it became the first municipality to have its own police department in Grainger County.[10] In 1801, Rutledge became the official county seat of Grainger County, a distinction that had been shared by several communities since the county's formation in 1796. Rutledge prospered in the early 19th century in part due to its situation along the Federal Road (present day US 11W), which connected New Orleans and Virginia. The road intersected the Wilderness Road (present day US 25E) at Bean Station, just east of Rutledge.[11]

In the 1820s, President Andrew Johnson, who worked as a tailor in Greeneville, briefly operated a tailor shop in Rutledge.[12] In 1976, a replica of Johnson's tailor shop was erected on the Grainger County Courthouse lawn.[13]

During the U.S. Civil War, guerilla warfare largely paralyzed Grainger County. In December 1863, Confederate General James Longstreet, who had earlier failed to wrest Knoxville from Union forces, passed through Rutledge en route to winter quarters at Russellville. On December 14, in what became known as the Battle of Bean's Station, Longstreet attacked a Union detachment that had been pursuing him. The Confederates failed to exploit the element of surprise, and the Union forces were able to hold out until reinforcements arrived. While Longstreet was victorious, Union forces were able to retreat to fortifications at Blaine, and Longstreet subsequently abandoned the assault and continued eastward to Russellville.[14]

In May 1955, following efforts from the community's Lions Club, Rutledge would vote to reincorporate into a city in an overwhelming 192 in favor compared to 21 against incorporation.[2] Following the reincorporation, the city would construct sewage treatment and waterworks systems to promote economic development with funding given from the Eisenhower administration's Rural Development Program.[15]


Rutledge is situated near the center of Richland Valley, a narrow valley that stretches for some 35 miles (56 km) along the southern base of Clinch Mountain between Blaine and Bean Station. Richland Creek traverses most of the valley en route to its confluence along the Cherokee Lake impoundment of the Holston River, approximately 20 miles (32 km) downstream from Rutledge. Cherokee Lake's Ray Creek embayment is located approximately 10 miles (16 km) east of Rutledge.

Rutledge is centered around the junction of U.S. Route 11W, which connects the city to Kingsport to the east and Knoxville to the west, and State Route 92, which connects the city to Jefferson County, Interstate 40, and Interstate 81 to the south. U.S. Route 25E, which traverses Clinch Mountain, intersects US-11W in nearby Bean Station.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.7 square miles (12 km2), all land.


Historical population

2020 census

Rutledge racial composition[18]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 1,238 93.72%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 10 0.76%
Native American 3 0.23%
Asian 5 0.38%
Pacific Islander 1 0.08%
Other/Mixed 45 3.41%
Hispanic or Latino 19 1.44%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 1,321 people, 611 households, and 355 families residing in the town.

2000 census

As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 1,187 people, 475 households, and 298 families residing in the city. The population density was 253.1 inhabitants per square mile (97.7/km2). There were 530 housing units at an average density of 113.0 per square mile (43.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 96.88% White, 2.02% African American, 0.08% Native American, 0.08% Asian, 0.42% from other races, and 0.51% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.01% of the population.

There were 475 households, out of which 27.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.9% were married couples living together, 14.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.1% were non-families. 34.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 18.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.17 and the average family size was 2.76.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 19.0% under the age of 18, 5.7% from 18 to 24, 28.1% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 25.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $24,276, and the median income for a family was $33,571. Males had a median income of $26,151 versus $20,677 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,477. About 11.8% of families and 20.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.8% of those under the age of 18 and 31.9% of those 65 and older.

Arts and culture

Tomato Festival

Rutledge Middle School in Rutledge is the location of the Grainger County Tomato Festival, which celebrates the tomato, Grainger County's most popular cash crop, annually since 1992. Around thirty-thousand festival-goers across the state of Tennessee and the United States gather to witness events about the county's heritage and its significant agricultural impact across the state of Tennessee, enjoy live music performances, purchase local produce and handmade gifts, and take part in arts and crafts events. The Grainger County Tomato Festival takes place during the final weekend in July.[19]

Historic sites

Replica of Andrew Johnson's tailor shop

Notable people


  1. ^ Tennessee Blue Book, 2005-2006, pp. 618-625.
  2. ^ a b "Rutledge to Incorporate". The Rogersville Review. May 19, 1955. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  3. ^ University of Tennessee, Municipal Technical Advisory Service. "Rutledge". Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  4. ^ "ArcGIS REST Services Directory". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 15, 2022.
  5. ^ a b "Census Population API". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 15, 2022.
  6. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  7. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  8. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  9. ^ "Revised Delineations of Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Micropolitan Statistical Areas, and Combined Statistical Areas, and Guidance on Uses of the Delineations of These Areas" (PDF). Office of Management and Budget. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
  10. ^ Lakins, Laura (August 26, 2020). "Rutledge City Police Department has long history". Grainger Today. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  11. ^ Collins, Kevin (October 8, 2017). "Grainger County". Tennessee Encyclopedia. Tennessee Historical Society. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  12. ^ Tennessee Historical Commission Marker 1B 43 in Rutledge, Tennessee. Information accessed: February 17, 2008.
  13. ^ Grainger County Heritage Book Committee (January 1, 1998). Grainger County, Tennessee and Its People 1796-1998. Walsworth Publishing. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  14. ^ "Bean's Station". CWSAC Battle Summaries. National Park Service. Archived from the original on February 23, 2008. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  15. ^ "Grainger Only ET County In US Farm Study Program". The Knoxville Journal. February 12, 1956. p. 7-D. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  16. ^ "Census of Population and Housing: Decennial Censuses". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  17. ^ "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Resident Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 11, 2013. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  18. ^ "Explore Census Data". Retrieved December 27, 2021.
  19. ^ "Grainger County Tomato Festival TN". Grainger County Tomato Festival TN. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  20. ^ University of Tennessee All-Americans Archived March 31, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
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Municipalities and communities of Grainger County, Tennessee, United States
County seat: Rutledge
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