Lewis County

Some of the residents of The Farm in 2013


When it comes to history, Lewis County is known for hippies, elephants and its strange connection to one of the most important explorers in American history.

On the southeast edge of Lewis County you will find The Farm, which was for many years regarded as the best known commune in America. The Farm is still there. It is no longer a commune, but still welcomes visitors and is, in many ways, a unique place in Tennessee.

A resident of the Elephant Sanctuary
PHOTO: The Elephant Sanctuary

Residents of The Farm are not, however, the LARGEST residents of Lewis County.

Lewis County contains an elephant sanctuary that takes care of old, sick or needy elephants who are retired from zoos and circuses. It contains an elephant shelter, ponds, and lots of wide open space in which the elephants can roam around and, well, be elephants.

The sanctuary is not open to the public, but you can check out its inhabitants at the Elephant Discovery Center in Hohenwald here.

The marker at the Meriwether Lewis burial site

Lewis County isn’t named for someone who lived there, but someone who died there. Meriwether Lewis was a great explorer; part of the Lewis & Clark expedition that mapped out parts of the American West. In 1809 he was passing through this part of Tennessee when he died under mysterious circumstances.

To this day people disagree on whether he killed himself or was murdered.

Rand McNally map, 1888

Finally, Lewis County is one of at least 18 Tennessee counties to have moved its county seat.

As you can see from this 1888 map (on the left), Newburg used to be the location of the Lewis County Courthouse. But in 1897, the residents of Lewis County voted to move the county seat to Hohenwald, which had originally been started as a colony by people from Switzerland.

Click on the right to read an article about that 1897 vote.


Here’s a photo of the Lewis County Courthouse.