South Pittsburg, the southernmost town on the Sequatchie Valley National Scenic Byway, sits on the banks of the Tennessee River. The town’s history includes early Native American settlements, the Cherokee Removal, Civil War action, and the rise and fall of mining and railroad industries.

A Rich History

The town and its surrounding farmland along the Tennessee River have a long history of Native American settlement. Ancient trails throughout the region led to historically significant sites like Long Island and Burns Island (formerly Lowry Island), which can be seen from the riverbanks at South Pittsburg Municipal Park. The Cherokee dominated the area in the 1700s and early 1800s.

Small-scale mining operations began in South Pittsburg in the mid-1800s. The town’s access to the Tennessee River and the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad gave investors hope the region could become a major industrial center, which is how it became known as “South” Pittsburg. Just north along the South Cumberland Plateau and Walden’s Ridge are the historic coal mines in Whitwell, coke ovens in Victoria, iron ore in Inman, and smelters in South Pittsburg.

Beautiful Sweeten’s Cove is located just minutes from South Pittsburg. If you love history, then visit winding Battle Creek and the historic Bean Roulston Graveyard. Sequoyah, developer of the Cherokee alphabet, is said to have lived in this area along Battle Creek and the Tennessee River with his brother-in-law, Major George Lowery and Lowery’s wife (Sequoyah’s half-sister), Lucy Benge. The Bean Roulston Cemetery is the final resting place of many early settlers of Marion County.

Additionally, a small Civil War battle took place in the cove on June 4, 1862. The cemetery has markers for 20 unknown soldiers. Sweetens Cove Primitive Baptist Church, which was built in 1850, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Because the town’s heritage is so important, the South Pittsburg Heritage Museum offers free admission.

Visiting South Pittsburg

Along with its historical charm, South Pittsburg offers a quaint downtown with restaurants and shops. Additionally, Joseph Lodge founded Lodge Cast Iron there in 1896. Visit the town to shop in the Lodge Factory Store, tour the museum, and eat in the restaurant. Furthermore, the town hosts the annual National Cornbread Festival. This is when the Lodge Foundry offers tours. Lodge Manufacturing Company is one of America’s oldest cookware companies and descendants of the Lodge family still own and manage it today.

Visit the historic Princess Theatre to watch live musical performances and theater productions.

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