Communities of Dickson County


Until the mid-1860s, life in this region was isolated, with access to cities limited to horse-drawn vehicles traveling rough roads. At the outbreak of the War Between the States, the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad had completed its line only as far out of Nashville as the Harpeth River at Kingston Springs. After General US Grant was given command of the Grand Army of the Republic in March 1864, one of his first actions was to order the Union Army to complete the railroad from Kingston Springs to the Tennessee River in order to provide a secure route for supplies into Nashville, Chattanooga and points beyond.
Lake Acorn in Montgomery Bell State Park, Burns
The settlement established here was first called “Mile Post 36,” indicating its mileage from Nashville. During the war it was inhabited by Union soldiers and railroad workers. In 1866 Yankee carpetbaggers began to relocate to the area. John McClelland, the first postwar postmaster, was a federal appointee described as an “ambitious politician seeking to share in the spoils of war.” The first post office opened on June 27, 1866.

Soon after the War, the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad took over the rail line from the Federal government and Mile Post 36 was renamed Burns Station in honor of the President of the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad. Over the years the “Station” part of the village name was dropped, although Burns retained its depot and was a regular stop on the railroad until about 1970. The depot was converted into Burns’s first Town Hall. The first meeting of the Town Council was held April 6, 1953.

Postwar Burns was a thriving town with general stores, mills, saloons, blacksmith shops and several other businesses. The year 1911 saw the opening of one of Burns’ most memorable establishments, the Berry House. J.C. Berry and his wife operated a combination hotel, boarding house and restaurant for 34 years. The clientele ranged from ministers to acrobats and tightrope walkers from traveling circuses. Berry’s homemade wine was locally famous as was the bounty of his wife’s table. Burns Bank & Trust Company operated from 1919 until 1940. Spencer’s Mill operated in Burns from 1919 until about 1945.

Burns was also the site of a Lime Kiln with its own railroad spur to transport packaged lime across the United States. The high grade of lime mined here was actively marketed from 1875 until 1951. In 1955 Burns Stone Company reopened the limestone quarry and produced both lime and stone at the location until it relocated to an open pit mining operation in Dickson in 1958. The advent of paved roads required a harder stone than was available at the Burns location.

In the 1930s and 40s the government constructed a Park just east of Burns on the site of the former Laurel Furnace built by Iron Master Richard C. Napier and later owned by Iron Master Epps Jackson. Under the supervision of the National Park Service with labor provided by the WPA and CCC the newly completed park was turned over to the State of Tennessee in 1944. The Inn and restaurant was completed in 1951 and Clement Lodge was opened in 1965. The Frank G. Clement Golf Course was opened in the early 1970s and a new Inn and Convention Center was opened in 1998. The 3,982 acres park is one of the most visited parks in Tennessee. The Park was named in honor of Montgomery Bell, considered the leading capitalist and industrialist of the first part of the 19th century in Tennessee. The Park now manages the Narrows of the Harpeth – the site of an impressive Iron Forge owned by Montgomery Bell and located just east of White Bluff.

A. C. Luther built Ridglea Farms which contained 4,100 acres during the 1940s through the 1970s. The farm was known internationally for its outstanding cattle. During the 1990s, the farm became a center of residential development for the Southeast portion of the county. Subsequent owner Henry C. McCall donated land for the construction of Stuart-Burns Elementary School.

Interstate 840 is intersecting with Interstate 40 in the Burns vicinity and will be the driving force for economic development and residential growth in this section of the county during the 21st century.

Burns has continued to grow and prosper and in the 1980 census the population was 777. The population jumped to 1,386 by the 1990 census and 1,366 by 2000.

Contact Information
Burns City Hall, P.O. Box 36, Burns, TN. 37029, (615) 446-2851

Landon Mathis

Population 2010 Census


Charlotte, named in honor of Charlotte Reeves Robertson, the wife of General James Robertson, was established by act of the Tennessee General Assembly in 1804. Montgomery Bell, Sterling Brewer, John Davidson, George Clark and Robert Dunning were authorized to locate a suitable location for a seat of government. They purchased 50 acres owned by Charles Stewart for $5,000 and organized the town with 49 lots that was divided into blocks by 11 streets.
Charlotte Courthouse
The first house in Charlotte was built before the town was planned by William Peacock. John Hyde built the next house on the southwest corner of the square. The oldest house still standing in Charlotte is a large brick home built by Jacob Voorhies on the west side of the Court Square in 1806. The first real tavern was established in 1810 by Rank Ellis. It stood on the northwest corner of the square.

The County’s first school, Tracy Academy, was chartered by the General Assembly at Charlotte in 1806, but the school was not active for another dozen years. The Charlotte Female Academy was established in the 1820s. The first rural library in Tennessee was chartered by the General Assembly at Charlotte in 1815. A four-year high school was established in Charlotte in 1927 and operated until all county high schools were consolidated in 1972. Creek Wood High School, located half-way between Charlotte and White Bluff was established in 2002.

Charlotte grew quickly and became an important trade and legal center as well as a transportation hub. Roads were soon built to Nashville, Cumberland Furnace, Clarksville, Columbia, Franklin, Vernon, Palmyra, and a western road, built on the old Chickasaw Trace that went to Natchez, Mississippi and to points beyond. Charlotte became an important stop on Stage Routes as early as 1812. The Tennessee Supreme Court met in Charlotte from 1819 until 1821. Sterling Brewer, of Charlotte, was Tennessee’s Lieutenant Governor from 1821-1823.

The peace and prosperity of the 1820s was disrupted by a tornado on May 30, 1830 which almost destroyed Charlotte and surrounding areas. The two-story brick Courthouse was severely damaged and the log jail was demolished. The roof of the Courthouse was carried 13 miles to the east and public records deposited in the Courthouse and in other buildings which housed law offices were blown all over the countryside. Fortunately, many of them were recovered. Rebuilt after the tornado, the circa 1833 Courthouse was enlarged by adding two wings in 1934 and was restored in the mid-1990s.

The community recovered during the late 1830s and enjoyed its greatest growth and prosperity during the 1840s and 1850s. Most of the buildings located on the Court Square were built during this period. Charlotte was incorporated in 1837 and its first election was held in 1838. Charlotte barely missed being named the State Capital in 1842, falling two votes short of Nashville’s total.

Union soldiers established “Camp Charlotte” on the Courthouse grounds from December 1863 until March 1864. Guerillas, coordinated by scouts of Generals Nathan Bedford Forrest and Joe Wheeler effectively weakened Federal control of Nashville by interfering with the steady flow of supplies on the Cumberland River. Many supply ships were attacked and sunk by the guerillas. Federal control of Nashville was not secured until General Grant ordered the completion of a railroad from Kingston Springs to the Tennessee River through the southern portion of Dickson County.

With the establishment of the Railroad growth moved from Charlotte to the new towns established along the new transportation routes. But, the community organized to house the county’s government has the distinction of being home of the “Oldest Courthouse in Use” in Tennessee. The Charlotte Courthouse Square Historic District was recognized by the US Department of the Interior as a National Historic Site in 1977. The Historic District includes more than 22 historic buildings. A new Courthouse Annex was constructed in 1977. Nearly all of the historic properties on the Court Square have been restored to their original appearance and adapted for modern uses.

Charlotte’s population according to the 1980 census the population was 788. The population jumped to 1,105 by the 1990 census and 1,153 by 2000.

Contact Information
City of Charlotte, P.O. Box 129, Charlotte, TN 37036, (615) 789-4184

Bill Davis

Population 2010 Census

Slayden & Vanleer

Both Slayden and Vanleer were platted and developed in the early 1890s by the Vanleer Land and Development Company with Robert Stone its president. Stone's mother was a Vanleer, the daughter of Isaac Van Leer, the brother of Anthony Van Leer. Stone had been a Colonel in the War Between the States and was a long-time manager of the Cumberland Furnace.

In 1825, Anthony Wayne Van Leer purchased the Cumberland Iron Works from Iron Master Montgomery Bell. Prior to that time, A. W. Van Leer had leased the Tennessee Iron Works, located near the mouth of Bartons Creek, from Iron Master Richard C. Napier.

Van Leer bought and farmed 15,000 acres of land in the Cumberland Furnace/Vanleer area. He expanded his holdings to more than 20,000 acres.

The Drouillard House in Cumberland Furnace/Vanleer

His granddaughter, Mary Florence Kirkman Drouillard, built the mansion which is visible on the hill in Cumberland Furnace.

Vanleer, the town, was incorporated in 1915. It was located on a railroad that ran from Pond Switch to Gracie, KY. The railroad passed through several of the communities developed by Stone, including Sylvia, Vanleer, and Slayden. There was a spur constructed from Vanleer to Cumberland Furnace to transport iron ore, tobacco and passengers.

One of the earliest enterprises of Vanleer was the shipment of ripened peaches by iced rail car to New York, Cincinnati and other northern cities. The peaches were grown in a 60-acre orchard owned by Messrs. Trahern, Outlaw and Eubanks. Norman Eubanks eventually organized the Peoples Bank of Vanleer in 1906.

Slayden was named for the prominent Slayden family that resided in the Cumberland Furnace and Woods Valley area of Dickson County. Dr. John Slayden served for a period of time as a physician at Cumberland Furnace. The community was incorporated in 1913 and was Tennessee�s smallest municipality for many years.

Organized at the intersection of the railroad and the Charlotte to Palmyra road, the community�s citizens were primarily engaged in the timber business. Huge stands of white oaks provided cross-ties for the railroad and the oaks and other hardwoods provided raw materials used in the iron industry which was thriving in nearby Cumberland Furnace. The leading businessman of Slayden was Robert H. McFall who owned a general store, the Slayden Bank and was noted for his acquisitions of timber from Lone Oak in Montgomery County to Sparta in White County.

The railroad ceased operations in the 1930s and the town functions as a residential center for the northwest corner of Dickson County.

In the 1990 census, Slayden had a population of 111 and grew to 185 by 2000, and Vanleer had a population of 369 in 1990 and decreased to 310 by 2000.


Town of Slayden

Contact Information
Town of Slayden, P.O. Box 6
Slayden, TN 37165

Mayor and Council
Gary Hodges, Mayor

Population 2010 Census

Town of Vanleer

Contact Information
Town of Vanleer, P.O. Box 97
Vanleer, TN 37181, (615) 763-2843

Mayor and Council
Larry Robertson, Mayor

Population 2010 Census
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