Scott County

Last month we profiled Cocke county. If you travel northwest to the other side of the region, you wind up in Scott county, just on the border of Kentucky.  Perhaps more than any other county in our region, Scott county should be characterized more as Central Appalachia than Southern. A hilly area atop the Cumberland Plateau, t he history of Scott county is like the history of much of Appalachia: trains, timber, & tourism. But it has it’s own unique history as well, and the ground of Scott county is rich with stories.

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Along with 5 other counties in the region,  Scott is classified as ‘distressed’ by both  the  Appalachian Regional Commission and TNECD.  Scott County ranks 92 out of 95 on overall health among TN counties, according to County Health Rankings.

According to the U.S. Census & the TN Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development:

  • 27.7% of people are currently below the poverty level
  • The unemployment rate in 2014 was 11.6% (compared to the state rate of 6.5%)

Scott County’s Economic and Demographic Profile can be found here, on the East Tennessee Economic Development Agency’s website.


Scott County has a rich and honorable history.  In the lead up to the Civil War, Scott was strongly anti-slavery, and voted against succession by a vote of 521 to 19, or 96%– the strongest margin of any Tennessee county.

In the 1880’s, a major railroad passed through Scott county and brought prosperity, helping to propel the timber and mining industry. While still present in the county, these industries have dwindled today, and into their place has stepped land conservation and recreation & tourism– a common narrative in Appalachia.  Scott is probably best known for its extensive ATV & OHV trails that cover its landscape, but it is home to the Big South Fork of the Cumberland, which is also well known for climbing, hiking, and kayaking.

Scott is also home to the longest  continuously running fair in the state, and its unemployment rate has been  decreasing for some time. Oneida, the county seat, is home to one of the most beautiful small town municipal parks in the state.

Should you want to visit the “Adventure Tourism Capital of Tennessee”, check out or head over to the  Tennessee River Valley Geotourism MapGuide for suggested trip itineraries. There’s ATV riding, rafting, hiking, climbing, and more.