Fifteen Important Events in the History of Dickson, Tennessee
The following items were taken from “Skits and Bits”, an archive of local history information compiled and maintained by the Ragan Family.
- Lands Purchased – December 3, 1860 – William C. Crutcher, purchased 533 acres of the Piney Furnace Lands, which included the present town of Dickson. The purchase price was $2,169.41 and it was on terms. Crutcher defaulted on the note payments and the land was sold at public auction on October 7, 1867, by orders of the court. Conrad Berringer owned the land when the first charter was granted for the town of Dickson in 1873. He later donated a block of land where the Memorial Building now stands to the County of Dickson for use as a public square.
- Railroad Finished – May 10, 1864 – The railroad was finished through what would later become the town of Dickson and the first train to pass through was headed to Lucas Harbor on the Tennessee River with a load on Union troops. The Military Governor of Tennessee, Andrew Johnson, was a passenger on the train. The completion of the railroad through the southern part of the county brought about the development and growth of towns like White Bluff, Burns and Dickson.
- Town Re-chartered – May 12, 1899 – The first city meeting of the Board of Mayor and Alderman in the newly re-chartered city of Dickson, Tennessee. The town was first incorporated on December 2, 1873, but gave up its charter on March 16, 1883, and there was no official town of Dickson until the town was re-chartered again in 1899.
- First Electric System – June 5, 1905 – Mr. W. W. Gamble of Braid Electric Company addressed the Dickson Board of Alderman stating that his firm proposed to install one engine generator and all parts incidental thereto, transformers, 35 poles, one-half mile of double primary circuit and the labor for construction for the price of $6,000 as per contract dated May 31, 1905, which offer was unanimously accepted.
- Worst Fire – November 24, 1905 – Downtown Dickson, Tennessee, was almost completely destroyed by fire. The most disastrous fire in the town’s history started in the Berry-Seay Candy Kitchen at about 2:00 o’clock in the morning. 21 brick business buildings were burned to the ground in the block between the railroad and College Street. Three residences were also lost. There was no fire protection, except for a bucket brigade, which was helpless due to a terrific wind that carried the flames across the street. The buildings were not very old, having been built after the large fire of 1893.
- First Water System – July 8, 1908 – The town of Dickson, Tennessee, signed a $10,000 contract with the J. H. Fall Company in Nashville, Tennessee, for construction of a water works plant in Dickson. Two boxcar loads of cast iron pipe and one car load of cast iron fittings were shipped into Dickson to complete the project.
- First Public School – August 1, 1908 – The Dickson City Council authorized the sale of $3,000 in bonds to buy the Bryan residence on the corner of East Walnut Street and Bryan Avenue. The property was to be used as the first public school in the town of Dickson. Oakmont School was built on the property in 1913.
- Dickson City Lake – May 31, 1935 – A large crew of WPA workmen began clearing the land to build the City Lake for the town of Dickson to use as a reservoir. The lake was to cover fifteen acres and be fed by Payne Spring. The lake was later expanded.
- First National Guard Armory – April 29, 1938- Officials of the Dickson Lions Club were notified that Dickson had been selected as a site for a National Guard Unit. The Dickson Unit was to have 63 men. WPA workers began construction of the armory at the Dickson fairgrounds in 1940.
- First Natural Gas System – April 8, 1949- The town of Dickson signed a contract to buy natural gas at wholesale and re-sell to the citizens of Dickson at retail through the town’s new natural gas system.
- War Memorial Building – November 11, 1933- The new War Memorial Building in Dickson was dedicated on Armistice Day. Earl Brown was the Post Commander for the occasion. A parade started at 10:45 o’clock in the morning, led by the Central High School Band. A concession stand sold barbeque dinners for 25¢. This building is now home to the Dickson County Chamber.
- Highway 70 – July 23, 1917 – A mass meeting was held in the Alamo Theatre in Dickson to raise $760.00 to pay for the surveying of the Bristol to Memphis Highway through Dickson County. The money was raised in less than fifteen minutes by donations from those present at the meeting. The building of this highway put the city along the route from New York to San Francisco known as the “Broadway of America”, now Highway 70.
- Governor Clement – November 4, 1952 – Frank G. Clement of Dickson, Tennessee, was elected governor for the first time. He served as governor 1953-1959 and again 1963-1967. His service performed years ago continues to benefit the citizens of Dickson and the State of Tennessee to this day. Clement was born in 1920 at the Hotel Halbrook in Dickson, Tennessee.
- Old Timers Day – May 9, 1959 – The first Old Timers Day was held in Dickson on a vacant lot on Church Street across from Ragan & Hamilton, General Contractors. The day was organized by Warren G. Medley, Vernon ‘Red’ Hamilton, Henry V. Ragan and others and sponsored by Ragan & Hamilton. The oldest man attending was Joe Ferguson, 110 years old.
- Interstate 40 – September 24, 1966 – Governor Frank G. Clement cut the ribbon at the Tennessee River Bridge for the opening of Interstate I-40, linking East and West Tennessee through Dickson County. The interstate was started on September 18, 1958.
(H. Alan Ragan is the Dickson County Historian and a full-time Realtor and Auctioneer with Ragan’s Five Rivers Realty & Auction Co. Ragan can be reached at his real estate office on Main Street. No part of ‘Skits and Bits’ may be reprinted without written permission. © Ragan Family Skits and Bits)