Cumberland County

The settlement was referred to as Crossville, and that name was chosen when a post office was established in the 1830s here.

Historic Context

Cumberland Mountains


Cumberland County’s seat is appropriately named Crossville, as it stands at the historical intersection of two significant thoroughfares: the Kentucky stock road, on which livestock was moved between Kentucky and Chattanooga, and the Walton Road. Around 1800, early settler Samuel Lambeth built a store at this crossroads. The settlement was referred to as Crossville, and that name was chosen when a post office was established in the 1830s here. When Cumberland County was created, Crossville became the county seat due to its location near the center of the county’s land area. Even though, several other communities within the county had larger populations such as Crab Orchard, Mayland, and Grassy Cove.

During the Civil War, Cumberland County’s population was evenly divided between pro-Union and pro-Confederate sentiments. Though no battles were fought here, the county suffered from war-torn families. As with other areas in Tennessee rich in natural resources, Cumberland County attracted northern developers after the Civil War. Timber and coal were the foremost products, though agricultural crops did very well here, too. The Tennessee Central Railroad came through the county in 1900, expanding access to a wider market. Further infrastructure development occurred after World War I with new highways such as US 70 linking Crossville with other commercial centers, such as Sparta to the southwest and Jamestown to the northeast. 

During the Great Depression, a federal housing project was established south of Crossville, named Cumberland Homesteads. It was established in 1934 by the New Deal-era Division of Subsistence Homesteads. The project was envisioned as a model farming community providing small-acreage homesteads to over one hundred families. Residents were to subsist on produce from their land and work in community-owned businesses. Though the project was dismantled in the 1940s, families remained on their homesteads. Cumberland Mountain State Park was developed within the Homesteads during the same period.

World War II brought new employment opportunities to Cumberland County, including a POW camp where captured Germans and Italians were detained. The building of Interstate 40 through Cumberland County following the war opened up the rural county for rapid development of manufacturing operations, retirement communities, and world class golf courses. The county’s population boomed in the late twentieth century.