Historical Markers are organized by regions and counties. On the Tennessee Map, click on the county you would like to see, or scroll down to see descriptions of the regions.
Regions of Historical Markers:
1) Chattanooga & Hamilton County
2) Knoxville & MidEast - Includes counties of Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Loudon, Jefferson, Knox, Roane, Sevier & Union
3) Pioneer NorthEast - Includes counties of Carter, Cocke, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi & Washington
4) SouthEast - Includes counties of Bledsoe, Bradley, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Polk, Rhea & Sequatchie
5) Bedford, Lincoln, Marshall & Moore
6) Cannon, DeKalb, Van Buren, Warren & White
7) Cheatham, Robertson & Sumner
8) Coffee, Franklin, Grundy & Marion
9) Dickson, Houston, Humphreys & Stewart
10) Giles Lawrence & Maury
11) Hickman, Lewis, Perry & Wayne
13) Nashville & Davidson County
14) Putnam, Smith & Wilson
16) Upper Cumberland - Includes counties of Clay, Cumberland, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Morgan, Overton, Pickett, Scott & Fentress
18) Memphis & SouthWest - Includes counties of Chester, Decatur, Fayette, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Madison, McNairy, Shelby & Tipton
19) NorthWest - Includes counties of Benton, Carroll, Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Henry, Lake, Lauderdale, Obion & Weakley
What is this, anyway?
There is not one place you can go to find every historical marker in Tennessee. Part of the reason for this is there are different organizations which supply these markers, and I will talk about more this in the "Types of Markers" section. While some of these organizations have a guide, it can be tough to merge them all together in one collection. My goal is to do just that. Now, it is quite an ambitious goal, and it may never be possible to get to every single one in the state, or even really know how many even actually exist. These galleries are essentially every marker I've found anywhere in the state.
As of the end of 2012, I have well over 1,000 of these markers, with more being added as I find them. Even still, I don't really know if I'm scratching the surface or if I've almost got them all. It's quite possible there's a bunch in your neighborhood that I've never even been to, or perhaps a new one sprang up down the road since the last time I was in your area. Still, I think these galleries make for a good reference guide.
How to use this guide. I've divided the state into 19 different regions. Each region is made up of one or more whole county. No county is subdivided into more than one region. If you want to browse by a particular county, click on that county on the map above or find it among the list of regions. Once you are in that specific region's gallery, the images are sorted by county (Unless the region is only one county). Then they are next sorted by the marker's title. Also whenever possible, I provide the marker's location in the description, such as the road or highway it is located on. .
Types of Markers
In this section, I'll discuss some of the types of markers you may find, plus how to identify who made them based on the logo on the marker.
Tennessee Historical Commission
This government agency is responsible for many of the markers we see and are the ones you'll find at the most significant historic sites around the state. These are the ones with a logo of three white stars inside a blue circle with a red border (unless the colors have faded). Some of the oldest markers do not have the logo, but still have a serial number which is described in a moment. The program began in the 1930s and has erected over 1900 markers around the state, adding a few more every year. Here is their website.
Starting in 1958, the Commission has printed a guidebook to all of their markers around the state. Then, about once a decade they will publish an updated edition. The most recent version was printed in 1996 and is over 400 pages. This book can be found on the internet for about $15 and the older versions are also readily available if you'd like a copy. The book sorts the markers by which highway they're on or nearest, but has indices in the back to search by topic or by county.
Each of these markers is also numbered. In the sample picture, this is marker 2E 77. Each county has been assigned a two digit code and 2E is Franklin County. The last two digits sequentially describes which marker it is in the county. 01 would have been the county's first. The picture here is Franklin County's 77th which makes it rather new as you might be able to tell by the fresh paint on the logo.
County Historical Commissions
Often times, the more populated counties that have a richer history have their own historical commission that also makes their own markers. The examples here are for the Nashville/Davidson County Historical Commission, Williamson County Historical Society and the G is for Giles County. In many cases, these organizations have their own publication guides. There are out-of-print books from the last century you can purchase with guides for these markers in Nashville, Williamson County and Memphis.
Tennessee Civil War Trails
These are some of the newest markers that seem to spring up all over the place. These large rectangular markers are probably less expensive to make and can hold more information. For more information on this program and to see their maps, visit their website at CivilWarTrails.org.
Non-Profit War Memorial Organizations
These civic organizations have a goal to remember their ancestors and the acts they performed in the defense of the country. In many cases, these might be some of the oldest markers you'll find. In most cases, the marker was built using private funds by their local chapters. The most common one is the Daughters of the American Revolution. Also seen here are markers for the United States Daughters of 1812 and Sons of Confederate Veterans.
National Register of Historic Places (and other registers)
The National Register of Historic Places is quite an extensive list of sites of significant historical value in the United States. In Tennessee, there are over 2,000 different entries on the register. The register does not actually make any kind of marker for these sites. The one shown in this sample picture was made by the Tennessee Historical Commission and the name of the site is etched in the plate in the shape of the state. Frankly, the type shown here is so common and they all look the same so generally speaking they are not included in these galleries. Occasionally, there will be a unique marker that will be included.
There are other federal registers that are more discerning over which sites get included, and these markers usually are included in these galleries. A National Historic Landmark is only for the most important locations in the country's history. There are also some specialty registries such as the National Engineering Landmarks or Registered Natural Landmarks.
Finally, there are plenty of locations that have their own marker design. For instance, the Stones River National Battlefield has hexagon-shaped markers, The Tennessee Overhill Experience has markers in and around McMinn County. Many local and state parks have their own markers. There are so many of these and many of them do not have distinct markings that there is no real point to describing them here.