Claiborne County

Claiborne County was established by the Tennessee General Assembly in 1801.

Historic Sites

Photo of Abraham Lincoln Library & Museum
Abraham Lincoln Library & Museum - Harrogate, TN

From its earliest beginnings Lincoln Memorial University began displaying Civil War and Abraham Lincoln memorabilia. Located on the beautiful campus of LMU in Harrogate, Tennessee, the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum houses one of the most diverse Lincoln and Civil War collections in the country. Exhibited are many rare items - the cane Lincoln carried that fateful night at Ford’s Theatre, two life masks, the tea set he and Mary Todd used in their home in Springfield, and numerous other artifacts. Approximately 30,000 books, manuscripts, pamphlets, photographs, paintings and sculptures tell the story of President Lincoln and the Civil War period in America’s history.

Photo of Grant Lee Hall
Grant Lee Hall - Harrogate, TN

Grant-Lee Hall was listed on the NRHP in 1978 for its local significance in the area of education. Centrally located on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University, Grant-Lee Hall was constructed in 1917 and throughout its history has housed dormitories, classrooms, laboratories, administrative office, and the residence for the university president.

Photo of Cumberland Gap Historic District
Cumberland Gap Historic District - Cumberland Gap, TN

Listed on the NRHP in 1990 for its association with the historical development of Claiborne County as a late nineteenth and early twentieth century mining town promoted by British investors. In addition, the historic district includes 38 contributing buildings that represent the district’s period of significance from 1890 to 1930. Prevailing architectural styles exhibited in the district include homes designed in the Queen Anne and Craftsman style. The quaint, historical Town of Cumberland Gap offers unique shops, art gallery, Bicycle Museum, and small town hospitality.

Photo of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park - Cumberland Gap, TN

Established on June 11, 1940, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park is a United States National Historical Park located at the border between Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. The Cumberland Gap is a sizable natural break in the Appalachian Mountains. The park lies in parts of Bell and Harlan counties in Kentucky, Claiborne County in Tennessee, and Lee County in Virginia. The park contains the Kentucky-Virginia-Tennessee tri-state area, accessible via a short trail. Cumberland Gap National Historical Park covers 24,547 acres, and saw 828,947 visitors in 2011. The Cumberland Gap Visitor Center is located on U.S. Highway 25E just southeast of Middlesboro, Kentucky and just northwest of the Cumberland Gap Tunnel and Cumberland Gap, Tennessee. The visitor center features a museum with interactive exhibits about the Gap’s role as a transportation corridor, an auditorium that shows films about the area’s cultural and natural history, a book store and the Cumberland Crafts gift shop.

Battle for the Cumberland Gap Reenactment

The Town of Cumberland Gap invites you to the annual " Gap Divided," an authenic War Between the States living history and reenactment. Visitors will be able to see battles close up as well as infantry, calvary and artillery demonstrations. There will be opportunties to visit authentic Civil War encampments, and eight stations presenting civil war talks and demonstrations on equipment and different branches of the army. The ladies will have a Period Tea and Fashion Show. Sunday is an abbreviated day with period church services and other Civil War activities before the soldiers start moving out at 4 pm.

Cumberland Gap Tunnel

The goal of the Cumberland Gap Tunnel project engineers was to facilitate safer travel along U.S. Route 25E, restore and preserve one of the nation's most historic routes, and to enhance recreational opportunities along the Gap. This modern engineering marvel is monitored by operators around the clock, 365 days a year.

Old Claiborne County Jail

Contructed in 1804, this is the oldest freestanding jail in the state and one of the oldest in the country. Efforts are currenlty underway to restore the old jail by the Claiborne County Historical Society. It was added to the National Register for Historic Places in 2007.

Cumberland Gap Historic Marker

Located near the town of Cumberland Gap, the marker commemorates the arrival of the initial wave of settlers and long hunters to the region. In addition, the marker describes Civil War activity in the area.

Harrow School Historic Marker

Located on U.S. 25E, this marker describes the founding of the Harrow School by Reverend and Mrs. A.A. Meyers in 1890. The Harrow School served as the precursory to Lincoln Memorial University.

Hensley Settlement

Hensley Settlement is an Appalachian living history museum on Brush Mountain, Bell County, Kentucky in the United States. The settlement is part of the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. It is located approximately 10 miles (16 km) north of the park visitor center on Ridge Trail, and contains twelve homestead log cabins, a one-room school house, and a blacksmith shop. A restored spring house on the property was used by the settlement as food storage. The settlement was established by in-laws Sherman Hensley and Willy Gibbons, and most inhabitants belonged to either the Hensley or Gibbons family. The last resident was Sherman Hensley, who left in 1951. The school and some forty-five settlement structures and the agriculture environment were restored to their original state in the 1960s by the Job Corps.

Newlee Iron Furnace

Although all that remains is the lower portion of the original 1819 30-foot blast furnace, it is actually a very small part of what was once an impressively large complex. It was here that limestone and iron ore were heated by coal and converted to "pig iron," which was shipped down the Powell River to factories in Chattanooga. The Newlee Iron Furnace is located near the Cumberland Gap, TN entrance to Cumberland Gap National Historic Park.

Speedwell Academy

The Academy was founded by German immigrant George Shutter, who came to Tennessee from Pennsylvania in the early 1800′s. It was established in 1806 as Powell Valley Male Academy and later called Speedwell Academy. The Academy was also used as headquarters by General Zollicoffer during the Civil War as he prepared to take Cumberland Gap from Union forces. The Academy was later used as a hospital by both Union and Confederate forces. Hours Open to the Public: Apr. – Oct. (3rd Sun.) 2 – 5 p.m.; Holidays 2 – 5 p.m.; Christmas Open House (1st three weekends in Dec.) 2 – 7 p.m.

Kincaid House

The Kincaid House was listed on the NRHP in 1976 for its local significance as an excellent example of Federal style architecture. The house was constructed ca. 1840 by John Kincaid II for his brother William Harrison Kincaid. According to the NRHP form, the Kincaid brothers were one of the largest landowners in the Powell Valley during the antebellum period. Considering the age of the house, it features uncommon architectural characteristics for the region through the display of stepped parapet gables, a Flemish bond brick exterior, and molded brick cornices.

Kincaid-Ausmus House

The Kincaid-Ausmus House was listed on the NRHP in 1975 for its local significance in the areas of architecture and government. The house is historically associated with John Kincaid II, a major land and slave owner of the Powell Valley. According to the NRHP form, Kincaid commissioned the construction all the existing antebellum brick homes in the Powell Valley region. As with all of Kincaid’s homes, his slaves were used in the construction of the buildings, which included the erection of a brick kiln on the site and the cutting of the limestone blocks that made up the foundations. This house was constructed for John Kincaid III. Proceeding owners included Kincaid III’s brother, Alvis; Jordan Longmire, and Wiliam Ausmus. The house serves as an excellent example of federal style architecture and features extensive interior woodwork.

McClain-Ellison House

The McClain-Smith House was listed on the NRHP in 1975 for its local significance in the areas of architecture and literature. According to the NRHP form, the house was constructed between 1793 and 1800 by Thomas McClain who is purported to one of the first white settlers to the area. Architecturally, the house is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the Powell Valley and is an excellent example of stone construction. Following McClain’s ownership of the house, the property was eventually acquired by Marshall Ellison in 1900. Ellison farmed the property until his death, whereupon Ellison’s daughter, Myrtle Smith, inherited the house. Smith was married to local playwright Earl Hobson Smith whose plays on frontier life have been performed around the country. Myrtle Smith, herself an author, is best known for writing The Civil War Cookbook.

Pioneer’s Grave Historic Marker

Located on U.S. 25E, this marker identified the grave of settler James Robertson, killed by Indians in 1784 at Butcher’s Spring near Arthur.

Return from Kentucky Historic Marker

The marker is located on U.S. 25E and commemorates the passage of the Army of Tennessee led by General Braxton Bragg and Major General Kirby Smith.

Gap Cave

Join park rangers for a two-hour adventure exploring this underground cathedral. Discover glistening stalagmites and flow-stone cascades. The moderately strenuous, 1.5-mile tour explores four cave levels and includes a 1-mile hike alaong historic Wilderness Road. This cave was a stop along the Underground Railroad.