Putnam County was officially created in 1842 from parts of White, Overton, Jackson, Smith and DeKalb counties. It was named in honor of General Israel Putnam of the Revolutionary War.
In 1844 an injunction restrained the county and circuit court officers from performing their duties after a charge that the county was improperly established.
However, in 1854 the county was re-established after a court ruling. The county seat was also established at the time and named Cookeville in honor of Major Richard Cooke who had been instrumental in getting the county re-established.
Putnam County lies within 3 major geographic divisions: the Cumberland Plateau, the Highland Rim, and the Central Basin. The largest portion of the county is situated within the Highland Rim, while the Cumberland Plateau occupies the eastern portion, and the Central Basin extends into the extreme western part of the county.
Putnam County has a diverse topography that affects the climate. Elevations range from 500 to 2,000 feet. Average annual precipitation increases from west to east as the elevation increases, and reaches a maximum of 59 inches near Monterey.
Generally, the temperature in the western part of the county averages about 1 degree warmer than in Cookeville, and temperatures in the extreme eastern part are usually about 3 degrees cooler. The growing season ranges from 175 to 200 days.
Imagine hawks riding the air high above sprawling lakes and the winding blue-green ribbons of rivers and creeks; water rushing over rocks to cool pools far below; scented mountain air wafting on breezes to city squares; music floating from parks bringing the sweet sound of song to the streets; folks flashing friendly smiles and offering warm waves to visitors and each other. Here, you don’t have to imagine. It’s a region rich with down-home people; it’s a feeling, a sensation, a discovery – a place that makes you feel like you’ve come home. With woodlands and waterfalls, symphonies and shopping, health care and education, leisure and recreational activities, business and industry, Cookeville and the rest of Putnam County draw neighbors from the surrounding 13 counties. You’ll also enjoy museums, free concerts, festivals, an official Tennessee state championship musical event, and much more.
Those seeking art, music, dance and theater will find all of this in Putnam County. You’ll enjoy the Home Show in March and in July, visitors and residents have a chance to participate in Freedom Fest, an explosion of fireworks and food. Each August, thousands flock to the Putnam County Fair Grounds for the annual countywide fair. Each September we celebrate Fall FunFest with music, arts and crafts and a BBQ cook off. Add to this dozens of parades, art and craft shows, street festivals and more.
Putnam County's public schools are also among the best. In national tests, Putnam County's high school seniors score above state and national averages. Cookeville is also home to the internationally renowned Tennessee Technological University, which routinely earns prestigious awards. We’re also home the Cookeville Campus of Nashville State Community College and the Nashville State Technical Institutes' Cookeville Center. Other area colleges and universities include Middle Tennessee State University, Volunteer State Community College, Roane State Community College, Chattanooga State Technical Community College, the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and others.
Hospitals and medical centers in the area include Cookeville Regional Medical Center, White County Community Hospital, Livingston Regional Hospital and Cumberland River Hospital.
Cookeville offers a dozen parks, 2 city lakes and 3 major Corps of Engineer lakes. And, of course, there is an abundance of recreational events and activities. Cookeville is within minutes of 3 of the most beautiful lakes in Tennessee: Dale Hollow, Center Hill and Cordell Hull.
These lakes offer endless activities including swimming, canoeing, fishing, camping and hiking. For the sportsman there are many tennis and racquetball courts, golf courses and playing fields.
A wide variety of recreational and cultural opportunities are provided for residents of Putnam County and the Upper Cumberland Region by local governments, the state park system, civic clubs and community organizations.
Cane Creek Park, a 260-acre park with a 56-acre lake is owned and operated by the City of Cookeville’s Department of Leisure Services.
Three state parks offer many camping, picnicking, hiking and other recreational opportunities. Three Corps of Engineer lakes, with over 1,200 miles of shorelines, are within a 30-minute drive.