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Clarksville is a city in and the county seat of Montgomery Countymarker, Tennesseemarker, United Statesmarker, and the fifth largest city in the state. The population was 119,284 in 2008 United States Census. Clarksville is the principal central city of the Clarksville, TN-KY metropolitan statistical area, which consists of Montgomery County, Stewart County, Tennesseemarker, Christian County, Kentuckymarker and Trigg County, Kentuckymarker.

The city was incorporated in 1785, and named for General George Rogers Clark, frontier fighter and Revolutionary War hero, brother of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Clarksville is the home of Austin Peay State Universitymarker, The Leaf-Chronicle newspaper, and neighbor to the Fort Campbell, Kentuckymarker, United States Army post. Fort Campbell is the home of the 101st Airborne Division, and is located approximately 10 miles (16 km) from downtown Clarksville, straddling the Tennessee-Kentuckymarker state line.

The city's nicknames include "The Queen City" or "Queen of the Cumberland" and "Gateway to the New South". The slogan "Tennessee's Top Spot" was introduced as a new city "brand" in April 2008.


Clarksville is located at (36.5297222, -87.3594444) . The elevation is above sea level. This altitude can be found on a section of Riverside Drive, which runs along the eastern bank of the Cumberland, but most of the city is higher. Clarksville's civil airport, Outlaw Field, is listed as AMSL by survey. According to Topo USA mapping software, the city square sits at and the courthouse at . There is a point on the northern side of Memorial Drive near Medical Court that reaches .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 95.5 square miles (247.4 km²), of which, 94.9 square miles (245.7 km²) of it is land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km²) of it (0.71%) is water.

Clarksville is located on the northwest edge of the Highland Rim, which surrounds the Nashville Basin, and is northwest of Nashvillemarker.

Clarksville was founded on the Cumberland River near the confluence of the Cumberland and the Red River. The Cumberland flows downstream from Nashville, some southeast of Clarksville. From its beginnings, the river was the city's commercial lifeline. Flat boats and, by the 1820s, steamboats carried cotton, oats, soybeans and tobacco, downstream to the Ohio River and up the Ohio to Pittsburgh. More frequently, cargo went down the Ohio to the Mississippi River and New Orleans. Both dark-fired and burley tobacco are grown in the area, and European tobacco buyers helped make Clarksville the largest market in the world for dark-fired tobacco, particularly Type 22, used in smokeless products. It was considered to have the highest nicotine content of all tobaccos in the 19th century.

To the northwest of Clarksville, lies the Fort Campbell Military Reservationmarker, home of the 101st Airborne Division. Much of Clarksville's economy can be attributed to Fort Campbell's presence (and Austin Peay State University). Most of Fort Campbell is in Tennessee, mostly in Montgomery and Stewartmarker counties. It is classified as a Kentucky location because its post office is in Kentucky.

Major roads and highways

ZIP codes

The ZIP codes used in the Clarksville area are: 37040, 37041, 37042, 37043, 37044.

Area code

Clarksville uses the area code 931.


As of the census of 2000, there were 103,455 people, 36,969 households, and 26,950 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,090.6 people per square mile (421.1/km²). There were 40,041 housing units at an average density of 422.1/sq mi (163.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 67.91% White, 23.23% African American, 0.54% Native American, 2.16% Asian, 0.25% Pacific Islander, 2.61% from other races, and 3.30% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.03% of the population. The census recorded 5,187 foreign-born residents in Clarksville.

There were 36,969 households out of which 41.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.4% were married couples living together, 13.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.1% were non-families. 21.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.12.

In the city the population was spread out with 28.8% under the age of 18, 13.6% from 18 to 24, 34.7% from 25 to 44, 15.6% from 45 to 64, and 7.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 100.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,548, and the median income for a family was $41,421. Males had a median income of $29,480 versus $22,549 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,686. About 8.4% of families and 10.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.8% of those under age 18 and 10.4% of those age 65 or over.

Population history

  • 1960 - 22,021
  • 1970 - 41,687
  • 1980 - 62,721
  • 1990 - 75,494
  • 2000 - 103,455
  • 2008 - 119,284



The area around Clarksville was first surveyed by Thomas Hutchins in 1768. He identified Red Paint Hill, a rock bluff at the confluence of the Cumberland and Red Rivers, as a navigational landmark. In the years between 1771 and 1775, John Montgomery, the namesake of the county, along with Kasper Mansker visited the area while on a hunting expedition. That same year, the land between the Ohio and the Cumberland was purchased by Richard Henderson from the Cherokee Indians for horses, guns, and alcohol. The other local tribes, such as the Creek, Shawnee, and Chickasaw claimed parts of the territory, creating conflict between the Indians and the settlers.

In 1779, James Robertson brought a group of settlers from upper East Tennessee via Daniel Boone's "Wilderness Road". Robertson would later build an iron plantation in Cumberland Furnacemarker. A year later, in 1780, John Donelson led a group of flat boats up the Cumberland River bound for the French trading settlement, French Lick (or Big Lick), that would later be Nashvillemarker. When the boats reached Red Paint Hill, Moses Renfroe, Joseph Renfroe, and Solomon Turpin, along with their families, branched off onto the Red River. They traveled to the mouth of Parson's Creek, near Port Royalmarker, and came ashore to settle down. However, an attack by Indians in the summer drove them back. (See Port Royal State Park)

Clarksville was designated as a town to be settled in part by soldiers from the disbanded Continental Army that served under General George Washington during the American Revolutionary War. At the end of the war, the federal government lacked sufficient funds to repay the soldiers, so the Legislature of North Carolina , in 1790, designated the lands to the west of the state line as federal lands that could be used in the land grant program. Since the area of Clarksville had been surveyed and sectioned into plots, it was identified as a territory deemed ready for settlement. The land was available to be settled by the families of eligible soldiers as repayment of service to their country.

The development and culture of Clarksville has had an ongoing interdependence between the citizens of Clarksville and the military. The formation of the city is associated with the end of the American Revolutionary War. During the American Civil War a large percent of the male population was depleted due to Union Army victories at Fort Henry and Fort Donelsonmarker. Many Clarksville men were interned at Union prisoner of war (POW) camps. Clarksville also lost many native sons during World War I (WWI). With the formation of Camp Campbellmarker, later Fort Campbellmarker, during World War II (WWII), the bonds of military influence were strengthened. Soldiers from Fort Campbell, Kentuckymarker have deployed in every military campaign since the formation of the post.

On January 16, 1784, John Armstrong filed notice with the Legislature of North Carolinamarker to create the town of Clarksville, named after General George Rogers Clark. Even before it was officially designated a town, lots had been sold. In October of 1785, Col. Robert Weakley laid off the town of Clarksville for Martin Armstrong and Col. Montgomery, and Weakley had the choice of lots for his services. He selected Lot #20 at the northeast corner of Spring and Main Streets. The town consisted of 20 'squares' of 140 lots and 44 out lots. The original Court House was on Lot #93, on the north side of Franklin Street between Front and Second Street. The Public Spring was on Lot #74, on the northeast corner of Spring and Commerce Streets. Weakley built the first cabin there in January of 1786, and about February or March, Col. Montgomery came there and had a cabin built, which was the second house in Clarksville. After an official survey by James Sanders, Clarksville was founded by the North Carolina Legislature on December 29, 1785. It was the second town to be founded in the area. Armstrong's layout for the town consisted of 12 four-acre (16,000 m²) squares built on the hill overlooking the Cumberland as to protect against floods. The primary streets (from north to south) that went east-west were named Jefferson, Washington (now College Street), Franklin, Main, and Commerce streets. North-south streets (from the river eastward) were named Water (now Riverside Drive), Spring, First, Second, and Third streets.

The tobacco trade in the area was growing larger every year and in 1789, Montgomery and Martin Armstrong persuaded lawmakers to designate Clarksville as an inspection point for tobacco. In 1790, Isacc Rowe Peterson staked a claim to Dunbar Cavemarker, just northeast of downtown.

When Tennesseemarker was founded as a state on June 1, 1796, the area around Clarksville and to the east was named Tennessee County. (This county was established in 1788, by North Carolina.) Later, Tennessee County would be broken up into modern day Montgomerymarker and Robertsonmarker Counties, named to honor the men who first opened up the region for settlement.

The 19th Century

Clarksville Museum and Cultural Center, Built 1898
As time progressed into the 19th century, Clarksville grew at a rapid pace. By 1806, the town realized the need for an educational institution, and the Rural Academy was established that year. Later, the Rural Academy would be replaced by the Mount Pleasant Academy. By 1819, the newly-established town had 22 stores, including a bakery and silversmith. In 1820, steamboats begin to navigate the Cumberland, bringing hardware, coffee, sugar, fabric, and glass. They also exported flour, tobacco, cotton, and corn to ports like New Orleansmarker and Pittsburghmarker along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Trade via land also grew as four main dirt roads were established, two to Nashville, one crossing the Red River via ferry called the Kentucky Road, and Russellvillemarker Road. In 1829, the first bridge connecting Clarksville to New Providence was built over the Red River. Nine years later, the Clarksville-Hopkinsvillemarker Turnpike was built. In 1855, Clarksville was incorporated as a city. Railroad service came to the town on October 1, 1859 in the form of the Memphis, Clarksville and Louisville Railroad. The line would later connect with other railroads at Paris, Tennesseemarker and Guthrie, Kentuckymarker.

By the start of the Civil War, the combined population of the city and the county was 20,000. The area was openly for slavery, as blacks worked in the tobacco fields. In 1861, both Clarksville and Montgomery County voted unanimously to join the Confederate States of America. The proximity of the birthplace of Confederate President Jefferson Davis gave the city a strong tie to the CSA, and both sides saw the city as strategic and important. Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston set up a defense line around Clarksville expecting a land attack; however, the Union sent troops and gunboats down the Cumberland, and in 1862, captured Fort Donelsonmarker, Fort Henry, and Clarksville. Between 1862 and 1865, the city would shift hands but the Union would retain control. Many slaves that had been freed gathered in Clarksville and joined the Union Army, which created all-black regiments. The remaining lived along the side of the river in shanties.

After the war, the city began Reconstruction, and in 1872, the existing railroad was purchased by the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. The city reached a high point until the Great Fire of 1878, which destroyed 15 acres (60,000 m²) of downtown Clarksville's business district, including the courthouse at that time and many other historic buildings. It was believed to have started in a Franklin Street store. After the fire, the city rebuilt and entered the 20th century with a fresh start. It was at this time that the first automobile rolled into town, drawing much excitement.

The 20th century

Mural painted on the only remaining wall of a building destroyed by the '99 tornado.
Another new form of entertainment soon came. In 1913, the Lillian Theater, Clarksville's first "movie house" for motion pictures, was opened on Franklin Street by Joseph Goldberg. It sat more than 500 people. Less than two years later, in 1915, the theater burned down. It was rebuilt later that year.

As World War I raged in Europe, many locals volunteered to go, reaffirming Tennessee as the Volunteer State, a nickname earned during the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War and other earlier conflicts. Also during this time, women's suffrage was becoming a major issue, and Clarksville women saw a need for banking independent of their husbands and fathers who were fighting. In response, the First Women's Bank of Tennessee was established in 1919 by Mrs. Frank J. Runyon.

The 1920s brought additional growth to the city. Travelwise, a bus line between Clarksville and Hopkinsville was established in 1922. 1927 saw the creation of Austin Peay Normal School, later to become Austin Peay State Universitymarker. Two more theaters were added, the Majestic (with 600 seats) and the Capitol (with 900 seats) Theaters, both in 1928. John Outlaw, a local aviator, established Outlaw Field in 1929.

The largest change to the city came in 1942, as construction of Camp Campbell (now known as Fort Campbellmarker) began. The new army base ten miles (16 km) northwest of the city, and capable of holding 23,000 troops, gave an immediate boost to the population and economy of Clarksville.

In recent decades, the size of Clarksville has doubled. Communities such as New Providence and Saint Bethlehemmarker were annexed into the city, adding to the overall population. The creation of Interstate 24 north of Saint Bethlehem made the area prime for development, and today much of the growth along U.S. Highway 79 is commercial retail. In 1954, the Clarksville Memorial Hospital was founded along Madison Street. Downtown, the Lillian was renamed the Roxy Theater, and today it still hosts plays and performances weekly.

The Roxy has been used as a backdrop for numerous photo shoots, films, documentaries, music videos and television commercials; most notably for Sheryl Crow's Grammy-award winning song All I Wanna Do, which was shot in front of the Roxy in downtown Clarksville.

On the morning of January 22, 1999, the downtown area of Clarksville was devastated by an F3 tornado, damaging many buildings including the county courthouse. The tornado, wide, continued on a -long path that took it up to Saint Bethlehem. No one was seriously injured or killed in the destruction. Clarksville has since recovered, and has rebuilt much of the damage as a symbol of the city's resilience. Where one building on Franklin Street once stood has been replaced with a large mural of the historic buildings of Clarksville on the side of one that remained.

Clarksville has the distinction of being home to the oldest bank in the state, the Northern Bank established in 1854, now AmSouth Bank ; the state's oldest newspaper, The Leaf-Chronicle, established in 1808; and the only bank in the world established and operated entirely by women, the Women's Bank of Tennessee that opened in 1919.

History of the county courthouse

Montgomery County Courthouse

The first Montgomery County courthouse was built from logs in 1796 by James Adams. It sat close to the riverbank on the corner of what is now present-day Riverside Drive and Washington Street. It was later replaced by a second courthouse built in 1805, and a third in 1806, with the land provided by Henry Small. The fourth courthouse was built in 1811, and the first to be built of brick. It was constructed on the east half of Public Square, with the land donated by Martin Armstrong. In 1843, yet another courthouse was built, this time on Franklin Street. It would remain standing until the Great Fire of 1878.

The sixth and current courthouse was built between Second and Third Streets, with the cornerstone laid on May 16, 1879. This particular building was designed by George W. Bunting of Indianapolis, Indianamarker. Five years later, the downtown area was hit by a tornado, which damaged the roof of the courthouse. The building was rebuilt. On March 12, 1900, the building was again ravaged by fire, with the upper floors gutted and the clock tower destroyed. Many citizens wanted the courthouse torn down and replaced with a safer one, but the judge refused and repaired the damage.

The courthouse was destroyed once again by the January 22, 1999 tornado. The building of another new courthouse was on the minds of locals, but in the end the courthouse was fully restored as a county office building. On the fourth anniversary of the disaster the courthouse was rededicated. In addition to the restoration of the original courthouse and plazas, a new courts center was built on its north side.

Notable Clarksvillians

The following notable people were born in or have lived in Clarksville:


Colleges and universities


The Clarksville-Montgomery County School System operates a total of 30 public school to serve about 30,000 students, including six high schools, six middle schools, 18 elementary schools, and one magnet school for K-5.

Montgomery Central High School.

Public high schools (grades 9-12) in Clarksville-Montgomery County:

Private high schools in Clarksville-Montgomery County:
  • Clarksville Academy (Students: 613; ST; Grades: PK - 12)
  • Montgomery Christian Academy (Students: 175; Grades: PK - 12)
  • Bible Baptist Academy (Students: 142; Grades: PK - 12) (closed 2000)
  • Weems Academy (Students: 58; Grades: 4 - 12)
  • Academy for Academic Excellence (Students: 50; Grades: 1 - 12)
  • Helicon/Clarksville Diagnostic (Students: 25; Grades: 6 - 12)

Biggest public primary/middle schools in Clarksville-Montgomery County:
  • Northeast Middle School (Students: 800; Grades: 6 - 8)
  • Kenwood Middle School (Students: 750; Grades: 6 - 8)
  • Richview Middle School (Students: 1,076; Grades: 6 - 8)
  • Glenellen Elementary School (Students: 1,058; Grades: KG - 5)
  • New Providence Middle School (Students: 1,027; Grades: 6 - 8)
  • Rossview Middle School (Students: 996; Grades: 6 - 8)
  • Sango Elementary School (Students: 941; Grades: KG - 5)
  • Northeast Elementary School (Students: 933; Grades: KG - 5)
  • Hazelwood Elementary School (Students: 913; Grades: KG - 5)
  • Kenwood Elementary School (Students: 799; Grades: KG - 5)
  • Montgomery Central Middle School (Students: ?; Grades: 6 - 8) (Cunningham, Tennessee)
  • West Creek Middle School (Students: 1000; Grades: 6-8)
  • Montgomery Central Elementary School (Students: 400; Grades: KG - 5) (Cunningham, Tennessee)

Other Elementary Schools in Clarksville-Montgomery County:
  • Barkers Mill
  • Barksdale
  • Burt
  • Byrns Darden
  • Cumberland Heights
  • East Montgomery
  • Liberty
  • Minglewood
  • Moore Magnet
  • Norman Smith
  • Ringgold
  • St. Bethlehem
  • Woodlawn
  • West Creek Elem.

Private primary/middle schools in Clarksville:
  • St. Mary's Catholic School (Students 140; Grades K - 8)
  • Immaculate Conception Preschool (Students: 156; Grades: PK - KG)
  • Apostolic Christian School (Students: 17; Grades: PK - 9)


Major industrial employers in Clarksville include:

Other notable local companies include:


Clarksville is served commercially by Nashville International Airportmarker but also has a small airport, Outlaw Fieldmarker, located 10 miles (16 km) north of downtown. Outlaw Field accommodates nearly 40,000 private and corporate flights a year, and is also home to a pilot training school and a few small aircraft companies. It has two asphalt runways, one 6,000 feet (1800 m) by 100 feet (30 m) and the other 4,004 feet (1200 m) by 100 feet (30 m).


In the June 2004 issue of Money, Clarksville was listed as one of the top five cities with a population of under 250,000 that would attract creative class jobs over the next 10 years.

The city has also received good rankings in various categories in:

Others can be located at the city's website.

Points of interest

Clarksville Roxy Theater


  1. Queen City Lodge #761 - Free & Accepted Masons, accessed October 11, 2008
  2. Clarksville unveils new “Brand” as “Tennessee’s Top Spot!”, Turner McCullough Jr., Clarksville Online, April 12, 2008
  3. M is for Michael
  4. Howie Wright Statistics -
  5. Clarksville, Tennessee. Money Mag Ranking.

External links

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