The History of Clarksville-Montgomery County

This thriving community is rich in history and tradition. The following timeline is a broad overview of significant historical events. For detailed narratives, visit these excellent resources:

1700's - 1900's 

1784 - Clarksville was established near the confluence of the Cumberland and Red Rivers and named for General George Rogers Clark, Indian fighter and Revolutionary War leader.

1785 - Clarksville is established as part of colonial North Carolina. Despite frequent Indian attacks, the town survived and prospered.

1796 - Tennessee becomes the 16th state. Tennessee County is divided into Montgomery and Robertson Counties. The name Montgomery honored John Montgomery a renowned Indian fighter and Revolutionary War leader.

Early 1800s - Devoted to the building of roads, railroads and bridges, and the establishment of churches and educational institutions.

1806 - Rural Academy is established on the present site of Austin Peay State University.

1808 – The state’s oldest newspaper, The Leaf-Chronicle, is established.

1860s - When the Civil War began in 1860, Fort Defiance was established in preparation of the Union advance, only to fall to Federal troops in 1862

             Learn more about Clarksville's role in the Civil War.

1854 – Tennessee’s first bank, Northern Bank (now Regions Bank), is established in Clarksville. 

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1900's - Present

1900 – 1940 - The Cumberland River is of great importance to the community and Clarksville is well known for dark-fired tobacco, its primary money crop. Trade and business progressed.

1919 – Women’s Bank of Tennessee opens as the first and only bank in the world established and operated entirely by women.

1940 – Olympic gold medalist Wilma Rudolph is born in Clarksville. She overcame polio to become an Olympic track star, winning three gold medals and becoming the world’s most famous black woman athlete.

1937 - The Great Flood of 1937 occurs after the Cumberland River crests and on January 25 reaches its highest ever recorded, 65.5 feet, 19.6 feet above flood stage.

1942 – The U.S. Army establishes Camp Campbell in Montgomery County, named in honor of General William Bowen Campbell.

1950 – Camp Campbell becomes a permanent installation, named Fort Campbell.

1994 – Wilma Rudolph dies and is buried in Clarksville.

1999 – On January 22 at 4:12 a.m., an F4 tornado struck Clarksville, destroying much of historic downtown with 500 damaged structures and over $72 million in losses. Despite widespread property damage, there was no loss of life and only five injuries reported.

2010 - The Cumberland River overflowed leaving areas along the Cumberland River completely inundated and businesses under several feet of water. 

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