Scott County

Scott County was created in 1849.

Historical Narrative

The route of the Cumberland Historic Byway enters Scott County on SR 63, which is officially designated as the Howard H. Baker Highway in honor of one of Scott County’s most celebrated citizens. A native of Huntsville, Howard H. Baker, Jr., served as a U.S. Senator from Tennessee, Senate Majority Leader, White House Chief of Staff for President Reagan, and U.S. Ambassador to Japan during his long career in public service (U.S. Senate Historical Office n.d.). Scott County was created in 1849 from Anderson, Campbell, Fentress, and Morgan Counties and is named for Winfield Scott, a veteran of the War of 1812 and Commander of U.S. troops at Vera Cruz, Cerro Gordo, and Molino del Rey in the Mexican War.

The rugged yet beautiful landscape of the Cumberland Plateau attracts countless hikers, kayakers, campers, and other outdoor recreationists to its abundant forests and parks, most notably the Big South Fork National River and Recreational Area, which encompasses 125,000 acres of the Cumberland Plateau. Scott County abounds with miles of scenic gorges and sandstone bluffs, and its rich natural resources have been utilized since antiquity.

Scott County holds the distinction of having voted against secession by the largest margin of any Tennessee county at the outset of the Civil War. Locals were so opposed to the Confederacy that the county court not only announced the county’s secession from the Confederate State of Tennessee, but that the county would henceforth be known as the “Free and Independent State of Scott.” After the war, the region’s economic activity centered on timber, mining, and industrial development. The construction of US 27 in the 1920s provided residents with an important transportation link to the rest of the state and beyond.

Three properties in Scott County are listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Barton Chapel, First National Bank of Huntsville, and the Old Scott County Jail. In addition, 89 architectural resources are located within the Scenic Byway’s one-mile buffer. These resources were originally surveyed by the University of Tennessee in 1999. Two Tennessee Historical Commission historical markers are located along the Cumberland Historic Byway corridor. One, titled “Independent State of Scott,” is located in Huntsville and commemorates a speech delivered by then U.S. Senator Andrew Johnson on June 4, 1861, in which he called for the creation of the free and independent State of Scott in response to Tennessee’s decision to secede from the Union. The second marker is located on SR 52 and recognizes the establishment of the Rugby Colony.

The Old Scott County Jail was listed on the National Register in 1973 for its architectural significance as one of the oldest buildings in the town of Huntsville. Designed by Chattanooga architect, J. G. Barnewell, the Old Scott County Jail was constructed in 1907. The building is constructed of red sandstone, which was quarried locally and cut into blocks at the town spring. The jail is topped with a castellated roof line that gives the building its distinctive, fortress-like appearance.

The First National Bank of Huntsville was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 for its association with the commercial history of the town of Huntsville. The finely constructed bank was built by contractor Rufus M. Holmes of Gwinnet County, Georgia, in 1909. Located on the Courthouse Square, the vernacular style commercial building is constructed of rough-faced sandstone blocks, which were locally quarried and hauled by mules to the construction site. After the bank failed during the Great Depression, the building was used as rental property and as government offices before returning to its original use as a bank in 1973.

West of Huntsville, the Cumberland Historic Byway turns south onto US 27 toward the community of Robbins, where the National Register-listed Barton Chapel is located. Recognized for its architectural significance as a local interpretation of Gothic Revival architecture, Barton Chapel was constructed in 1926 and designed by the prominent Knoxville firm of Barber and McMurray. The church’s interior features such architectural elements as exposed trusses and a compound, pointed chancel arch. The building is named after William E. Barton (1861-1930), who served as the first pastor of the First Pilgrim Congregational Church of Robbins, Tennessee, before rising to national prominence as an author of both religious and secular works during his tenure as pastor of the First Congregational Church in Oak Park, Illinois.