Charleston, Tennessee

Charleston is a city in Bradley County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 651 at the 2010 census.[5] It is included in the Cleveland Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Charleston, Tennessee
Buildings along US-11
Location of Charleston in Bradley County, Tennessee.
Coordinates: 35°17′4″N 84°45′25″W
CountryUnited States
IncorporatedNovember 11, 1956[1]
  MayorWalter Goode
  Total1.0 sq mi (2.7 km2)
  Land1.0 sq mi (2.5 km2)
  Water0.1 sq mi (0.1 km2)
728 ft (222 m)
  Density650/sq mi (240/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
  Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)423
FIPS code47-13020[3]
GNIS feature ID1305866[4]


The land now occupied by Charleston and Bradley County was home to the Cherokee Nation long before European settlers arrived. In the 1820s and 1830s, many white settlers began to move into the area anticipating a future forced removal of the Cherokee by the Federal Government. At times, these settlers came into conflict with the Cherokee, who resisted settlers who tried to take over their territory.[6]

After the Hiwassee Purchase of 1819, the Cherokee Agency the official liaison between the U.S. government and the Cherokee Nation was moved to the location of present-day Charleston 1821.[7] The agent to the Cherokees was Colonel Return J. Meigs Sr., who had served in the American Revolutionary War.[8] That same year a trading post and store were established nearby.[9] Fort Cass was constructed in Charleston as the headquarters of the Cherokee Removal, which was initiated by the Treaty of New Echota in December of 1835. During the summer of 1838, thousands of Cherokees from various locations were held in internment camps at the fort under the supervision of federal troops before starting their journey westward, which became known as the Trail of Tears. Several other internment camps were located in the valleys between Charleston and present-day Cleveland, Tennessee over a distance of 12 miles (19 km), including one at nearby Rattlesnake Springs. [10]

During the Civil War the Henegar House, the oldest remaining brick structure in Bradley County, was used as headquarters by both Union and Confederate generals including William T. Sherman, Oliver O. Howard, Marcus J. Wright, and Samuel Bolivar Buckner.[11] The Charleston Cumberland Presbyterian Church building was used as a hospital by Confederate Forces in 1863.[12] The railroad bridge over the Hiwassee River in Charleston was destroyed as part of the East Tennessee bridge burnings in November 1861.[13]

Charleston was incorporated on November 11, 1956.[1] Several areas in and around Charleston were used as the primary filming locations for the 1960 Elia Kazan film Wild River. The city's business district served as the fictional Garthville in the film.[14]

Charleston was the first city in Tennessee to elect a black mayor and the first city to appoint a black police chief.[15]

The Hiwassee River Heritage Center in Charleston, opened in 2013, showcases the history of the Cherokee Nation and Removal in the area. The center was expanded in 2019 to include a National Historic Trail.[16]


Charleston is situated along the south bank of the Hiwassee River, which flows down out of the Appalachian Mountains several miles to the east and empties into the Chickamauga Lake impoundment of the Tennessee River several miles to the west. The river forms the boundary between Bradley County and McMinn County. Calhoun, Charleston's sister city, is situated on the north bank of the Hiwassee, on the McMinn County side.

Charleston is traversed by U.S. Route 11, which enters the city from Calhoun to the north and exits the city en route to Cleveland to the south. Interstate 75, which roughly parallels U.S. 11 in the area, runs along Charleston's western boundary, and is connected to the city by State Route 308.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.0 square mile (2.6 km2), of which 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2), or 5.77%, is water.


Historical population
Est. 2018690[2]6.0%

2010 census

As of the census of 2010,[19] there were 651 people, 253 households, and 166 families residing in the city. The population density was 651 people per square mile. The housing unit density was 253 units per square mile. The racial makeup of the city was 77.27% White, 19.82% African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.31% Asian, 1.69% from other races, and 0.77% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 4.15% of the population.

Of the 253 households, 30.04% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.83% were married couples living together, 11.46% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.32% had a male householder with no wife present, and 34.39% were non-families. 30.43% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.86% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.23.

In the city, the population was spread out with 26.27% under the age of 18, 60.37% ages 18 to 64, and 13.36% age 65 and older. The median age was 38.6 years. 50.54% of the population were females, and 49.46% were males.

The median household income was $34,805, and the median family income was $48,333. Males had a median income of $32,188, versus $30,750 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,587. About 8.0% fo families and 10.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.1% of those under age 18 and 26.4% of those age 65 and over.

2000 census

As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 630 people, 265 households, and 182 families residing in the city. The population density was 639.9 people per square mile (248.2/km²). There were 280 housing units at an average density of 284.4 per square mile (110.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 72.54% White, 23.49% African American, 0.48% Asian, 0.79% from other races, and 2.70% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.90% of the population.

There were 265 households out of which 24.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.2% were married couples living together, 9.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.3% were non-families. 29.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.92.

In the city, the population was spread out with 22.5% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 26.7% from 25 to 44, 26.8% from 45 to 64, and 15.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,750, and the median income for a family was $40,781. Males had a median income of $31,389 versus $18,333 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,586. About 5.7% of families and 8.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.0% of those under age 18 and 12.9% of those age 65 or over.


The city is across the Hiwassee River from a large paper mill operation of Bowater Corporation (Resolute Forest Products) in Calhoun, which is a major local employer. Logging trucks and rail traffic to and from this plant frequently traverse Charleston.

Charleston is the postal address of the international headquarters of the Christian denomination The Church of God, commonly called "The Church of God (Charleston, Tennessee)" to distinguish it from other similarly named denominations. However, the denomination's headquarters are actually located in Cleveland.

Olin Chemical and Lonza, both located on Old Lower River Road in Charleston, make pool chemicals as well as several other products. They employ several hundred people.

GE Lighting (DHL Supply Chain) broke ground right off the interstate in 2007 and employs several hundreds of people, distributing General Electric light bulbs. An Amazon Fulfillment Center, located off the interstate in Charleston, employs several hundred people.

Germany-based chemical company Wacker Chemie broke ground in 2011 on a new solar-grade polysilicon production facility (550-acre Greenfield site). At a cost of $2 billion, 650 new jobs were generated.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Charleston has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[20]


  1. "City of Charleston (Bradley)". University of Tennessee. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  2. "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  3. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  4. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  5. Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Certified Population of Tennessee Incorporated Municipalities and Counties Archived June 30, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, State of Tennessee official website, July 14, 2011. Retrieved: December 6, 2013.
  6. " Goodspeed's History of Bradley County, Tennessee," published in 1887. Transcribed for web content and maintained by TNGenWeb - Bradley County. Retrieved: December 30, 2007.
  7. Lillard 1980, p. 11
  8. Lillard 1980, p. 8
  9. Lillard 1980, p. 36
  10. Duncan 2003, p. 261
  11. "Henegar House". National Geographic. 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  12. "Local Sites of Historical Interest". Charleston-Calhoun-Hiwassee Historical Society. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  13. Lillard 1980, p. 59
  14. TED STRONGINCHARLESTON, TENN.. "CHARTING A 'WILD RIVER,' TENNESSEE-STYLE :Real Sites, Citizens Add to Flavor Of T.V.A. Drama Now Being Made. " New York Times (1923–current file) 29 Nov. 1959,ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851–2007), ProQuest. Web. 5 Nov. 2010.
  15. "Black History in the Ocoee Region". museumcenter org. Museum Center at Five Points. February 27, 2019. Retrieved September 2, 2019.
  16. Bowers, Larry C. (March 30, 2019). "Historic Trail, Heritage Center Open". Cleveland Daily Banner. Cleveland, Tennessee. Retrieved September 2, 2019.
  17. "Census of Population and Housing: Decennial Censuses". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 8, 2006. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  18. "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.
  19. "American Factfinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  20. "Charleston, Tennessee Köppen Climate Classification (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase.

Further reading

  • Duncan, Barbara R. and Riggs, Brett H. Cherokee Heritage Trails Guidebook. University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill (2003). ISBN 0-8078-5457-3
  • Lillard, Roy G. (1980). Bradley County. Memphis State University Press. ISBN 0-87870-099-4.

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