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So, where's the western boundary?


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Which grand division does the Cumberland Plateau belong to? Is Crossville in East Tennessee? Are Monterey and Jamestown in Middle Tennessee?

To explain to the out-of-staters reading this and wondering what a grand division is, I can relate to a conversation I had years ago with a Gentleman from Texas. He told me he never met anyone who said they were from Tennessee. They were always from either West, Middle or East Tennessee. That is because the state is 500 miles long and about 120 miles tall, and it breaks up naturally into three distinct regions (divisions). At one time, signs at the state line welcomed visitors to the "Three States of Tennessee'.

West Tennessee (not western) starts at the Mississippi and extends to the Tennessee River. It is flat, hot and the old south. Memphis sits in the southwest corner, the new madrid fault is in the northwest corner and Jackson sits smackdab in the middle and is a boomtown with double A baseball. West tennessee has been very Democratic, historically.

Middle Tennessee (don't call it central Tennessee) starts at the Tennessee River on the west and extends to or beyond the Cumberland Plateau. It is hilly with a mix of beautiful farmland and forests. Nashville dominates the area economically, culturally and politically. It traditionally has been middle of the road politically.

The Cumberland Plateau is part of the Appalachian Plateau which extends from the Katskills in New York to Birmingham Alabama. In Tennessee it has the most dramatic topography averaging 1800 to 2000 feet above sea level. There are deep canyons, rugged mountains and tall waterfalls (Falls Creek Falls at 250' is the highest east of the Rocky mountains).

East Tennessee includes the Appalachian valley between the plateau and the Smokies and is fairly densely populated. South to north are the Chattanooga (450,00), Cleveland (120,000), Knoxville (700,000), Morristown (150,000), Kingsport/Bristol (250,000) and Johnson City (150,000) MSA's. (I know the pop numbers are not exact, but close enough). East Tennessee has always been strongly Republican.

There is some growth in East Tennessee, but there is a transistion happening that is just as important. The area is changing from impoverished appalachia and rebuilding the Cities into livable, prosperous communities. Chattanooga gets world wide recognition for remaking its' image and building a great downtown. My favorite East Tennessee town is Johnson City, however. It has beautiful scenery, and is just the right size to have all the perks of a larger city minus a lot of the negatives.

But, back to the original subject, where does the plateau belong?

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Here is a link to a map of wikipedia that shows the East Tennessee counties highlighted in red:


Going by it Jamestown (Fentress) and Monterrey (Putnam) are both in Middle Tennessee, while Crossville (Cumberland) sits across the line in East Tennessee.

I too always have a hard time visualizing the Middle/East Tennessee Grand Division boundary. I can usually remember that Putnam is in Middle, but then get all fuzzy on how the line runs from there.

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That's interesting to me because I had always thought that the Grand Division was the dividing line separating the Eastern and Central Time Zones. That's not true. Evidently there are four counties which are in the Central Time Zone but are considered in the East Tennessee Grand Division. They are Cumberland, Bledsoe, Sequatchie and Marion counties. All the counties in the Eastern Time Zone are considered part of the East Tennessee grand division.

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