During World War II, twenty one counties of Middle Tennessee hosted U.S. Army war maneuvers. During these military exercises, it wasn’t that unusual for a farmer to see tanks driving through his fields and for children to encounter soldiers marching down the road.
Carthage, in Smith County, hosts an event every May that honors this chapter in Tennessee’s history, called “Tennessee Maneuvers Remembered.”
Carthage was also the boyhood home of former Representative, Senator, and Vice President Al Gore.
Gore lost the closest presidential election in American history in November 2000 and has since returned to his home state. Although most of the focus of the news media following that election was on Florida, many Americans missed the fact that had Gore won Tennessee, he – not George Bush – would have won the 2000 election.
Carthage was originally founded in the late 1700s by a man named William Walton, who ran a ferry service and an inn there. For many years, the road from the top of the Cumberland Plateau to Carthage was known as Walton’s Road, and many roads in the eastern part of Smith County still bear the name Walton.
One of the important stops on Walton’s Road was Raulston’s Stand, in the hills east of Carthage. Among the people who spent the night at Raulton’s Stand were Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson. However, the only thing that is left of the Raulston’s Stand is a historic marker, placed there on the side of Highway 70.
Speaking of landmarks along the highway in Smith County, there used to be a ferry that crossed the Cumberland River, near the community of Rome. The ferry service was shut down a long time ago. But as you can see, the ferry still remains on the side of the river.
Finally, Smith County is the home of some of the strangest named places in Tennessee. The county contains one community called Difficult, another named Defeated, and a third called Enigma. (Click on this map to the left to see.)
Here’s the Smith County Courthouse.