The Port of Nashville is the capital of the State of Tennessee and the seat of Davidson County. Located in north central Tennessee on the Cumberland River, the Port of Nashville is about 120 nautical miles upriver (about 150 kilometers or 95 miles) southeast of Eddyville Riverport in Kentucky. The Port of Nashville is about 320 kilometers (200 miles) northeast of the Port of Memphis in far southwest Tennessee. The metropolitan area surrounding the Port of Nashville reaches into seven counties, and the governments of the city and Davidson County were consolidated in 1963 and referred to as Nashville-Davidson. The 2010 US Census reported a population of over 600 thousand in the city and a metropolitan population of almost 1.6 million people.
The Port of Nashville has a diverse economy. The primary industry is music and entertainment. The Port of Nashville is known around the world for country music, and many music-related attractions are located there. The Port of Nashville is also home to the famous Grand Ole Opry. Service industries like healthcare, finance, insurance, and education also make major contributions to the Port of Nashville regional economy. With an international airport, a river port, and central highway and rail connections, the Port of Nashville is an important distribution and transportation center, particularly for goods produced by local manufactures. Products created in the Port of Nashville region include vehicles and parts, appliances, aircraft parts, and water heaters. The main agricultural goods produced in the Port of Nashville region include tobacco, dairy, corn, soybeans, and livestock. Tourism, printing, and publishing are also important parts of the Port of Nashville's economic base.
In the distant past, the future Port of Nashville area was home to peoples of the Mississippian culture. By the time Europeans arrived, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Shawnee tribes had moved into the area. The Cherokee Nation had long been recognized as a culturally and socially advanced Native American people. The Cherokee were one of what the new settlers called the "Five Civilized Tribes" that also included the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee-Creek, and Seminole. The Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes appeared as a distinct people in the 17th Century, growing out of the earlier Mississippian culture that inhabited the Lower Mississippi Valley region for thousands of years. The Chickasaw had migrated to east of the Mississippi River from the west before contact with Europeans. When the United States were still British colonies, the people of the Creek Confederacy lived in Georgia and Alabama, and they controlled the southeast region of North America in the early 16th Century.
In the 1830s, European settlers coveted the rich lands of southeast North America, including what would become the Port of Nashville, that were inhabited by the Five Civilized Tribes. The US Supreme Court recognized limited sovereignty to the tribes in an 1832 ruling that opposed the forced relocation of the indigenous peoples and set precedence for modern US law. Despite that decision, then President Andrew Jackson continued and refreshed the policy to remove native peoples from their homelands, thus creating the famous "Trail of Tears."
In 1831, the Choctaw people were the first to be removed to the Oklahoma Indian Territory. The Seminole were removed in 1832. In 1834, the Creek were relocated, followed by the Chickasaw in 1837. Finally, some 15 thousand Cherokee were forced to make the terrible march in 1838, accompanied by a few non-natives who were mostly free black and escaped slaves. By the end of the period of removal, some 46 thousand Native Americans had been removed, and white settlers gained about 100 thousand square kilometers (25 million acres) of new lands, including the land that would soon support the Port of Nashville.
In 1717, French fur traders created the French Lick trading post on the site of the future Port of Nashville. In 1775, North Carolinian Richard Henderson acquired from the Cherokee a huge tract that contained most of central Tennessee and Kentucky in what is known the Transylvania Purchase. In 1779 a group of men sent by Henderson settled at French Lick in the future Port of Nashville, and they were joined by another group in 1780.
The new settlers built Fort Nashborough at the French Lick site, naming it for American Revolutionary War General Francis Nash. The new fort soon became the center of a new community which was renamed Nashville in 1784.
In 1806, the Port of Nashville was chartered as a city, growing quickly as a river trade port and manufacturing center. When the railroads arrived in the 1850s, the Port of Nashville gained commercial importance in the region. Growth was postponed when Union troops occupied the Port of Nashville in 1862. The last major battle of the American Civil War took place outside the Port of Nashville in 1864, when Union General George H. Thomas defeated Confederate General John B. Hood.
After the Civil War, the Port of Nashville's central location and access to both water and rail transportation spared it the same fate as many southern cities during Reconstruction. Surviving outbreaks of cholera in 1866 and 1873, the Port of Nashville continued to grow as a cultural center as well. Due to the many colleges and universities in the Port of Nashville, many called it the "Athens of the South."
In 1859, the State Capitol was built in the Port of Nashville in the Greek style. Today, President James K. Polk is buried on the capitol grounds. In 1897, a full-scale replica of the Parthenon was built in the Port of Nashville for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition.
In the early 20th Century, the Port of Nashville continued to grow in population and in prosperity. During that time, the Port of Nashville began to emerge as a center for traditional American and country music. In 1925, the Grand Ole Opry began regular radio broadcasts from the Port of Nashville that continue today. In the 1930s, after the Tennessee Valley Authority made cheap electricity available, industrial development in the Port of Nashville accelerated.
Today, Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park is located near the capitol building in the Port of Nashville, and it contains a memorial to those who fought World War II. The Port of Nashville has many historic sites that attract visitors. The home and grave of President Andrew Jackson, The Hermitage, is a short 19 kilometers (12 miles) east of the Port of Nashville's downtown. The 1863 Belle Meade Plantation was one of the United States' first thoroughbred horse farms. The 1799 Travelers Rest is today a Port of Nashville museum.
The Port of Nashville has a rich and varied culture. It is home to an opera company, a symphony orchestra, a ballet troupe, several theater groups, and museums focusing on history, science, and art. Sports fans in the Port of Nashville can enjoy National League football attending Titans' games, and hockey fans can support the National Hockey League Predators. Located in some of the United States' most beautiful regions, the Port of Nashville also offers many natural wonders and outdoor activities. Old Hickory and J. Percy Priest lakes are located near the Port of Nashville as are Long Hunter State Park and Radnor Lake State Natural Area.