In the 1850s, a store and a blacksmith shop were built beside the Memphis-to-Kerrville Road. These two businesses, along with the homes of the owners, comprised the settlement in the present Millington area.
In the late 1870s, George Millington induced the tiny, flood-plagued settlement of Glencoe—centered around a sawmill, cotton gin, and a general store—to move to higher ground and rename their community Millington. Some citizens remember the wooden roads and horse and buggy trips to Memphis that took two days.
Today, Millington is a growing community with close ties to the NSA Mid-South complex, and has enjoyed years of prosperity as a naval town. The realignment of the base in the mid-1990s has brought new changes and the city has transitioned well, bringing in industry to replace jobs and creating new opportunities.
As a result of this realignment, the airfield onboard the base was turned over to the city of Millington, and is now run by the Millington Municipal Airport Authority. The airport, along with a total of some 1,900 acres, is the nucleus of the new West Tennessee Regional Business Center.
Millington has kept pace with the needs of its citizenry. The Baker Community Center, with a large clubroom, an auditorium and large and small conference rooms, provides a meeting place and social outlet for adults, teenagers and non-profit organizations. In addition, the city’s purchase of a former church facility as the new Civic Center provides meeting accommodations. In 2001, a YMCA facility opened adjacent to the NSA Mid-South complex. It offers a fitness center, indoor pool, outdoor water park, aerobic rooms, nursery and meeting rooms.
Many faiths are represented in Millington, with easy access to Jewish and other faiths in Memphis and suburban communities.
The Memphis-Shelby County Public Library is located on Navy Road next to City Hall. The facility stocks thousands of books locally, and has access to the entire Shelby County Library System resources.
There are nine parks in Millington, three with baseball or softball fields. All the parks contain picnic areas and playgrounds. USA Stadium is the host to numerous tournaments each year. The season starts with the Service Academies Spring Classic and includes the Junior College Division II World Series.
Golf courses in the area include the Glen Eagle (NSA Mid-South course), Forest Hill four miles north of Millington, Big Creek Golf Club three miles south and Edmund Orgill Golf Course within the city limits.
Located seven miles west of Millington atop the Mississippi River bluffs is Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park. As the most visited state park in Tennessee, it provides 14,000 acres in native woodlands, walking and riding trails, picnic areas, boat ramp, rental cottages, rental boats, campground, nature center, swimming pool and wildlife. It also has one of the area’s only flying disk golf courses.
Just a few miles south of Millington is Memphis Motorsports Park at Millington. The action includes the Memphis 200 NASCAR/Craftsman Truck series, the ASAAC Delco Series-American Speed Association, AutoZone Nationals-NHRA Winston Drag Racing, Sam’s Town 250 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division and more. Races are held March through September.
A mayor and a seven-member board of aldermen govern Millington.
The local Millington area is served by three elementary schools, one middle school and one high school.
On West Street, just two blocks north of Navy Road, lies the campus of Millington Central High School. MCHS is a comprehensive school of more than 1,500 students with a staff of more than 110 employees. Eight buildings and a football stadium occupy the 23-acre campus.
Millington Middle School (grades six through eight) is located on Cuba-Millington Road just north of the high school. Millington Elementary (K-5) is located on William Osteen Road just east of the Navy Mid-South complex; E. A. Harrold Elementary (K-6) is just north of Millington on West Union Road; and Lucy Elementary (K-5) is located just south of Millington on Amherst Road.
The Shelby County School District administers the public schools in Shelby County, except for Memphis, including the towns of Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland and Millington.
Shelby County schools have more than 45,000 students and a PTO organization that is one of the largest in the state and the country. Because of the growing population in the county, the system is renovating and expanding its schools as well as planning new ones.
The Shelby County School District was the first large district in Tennessee and is the largest to be accredited in its entirety by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
A community school concept is followed as closely as possible in the assignment of students to schools. Growth rates in Shelby County are one of the highest in the state, creating an increase in student population averaging 1,000 students each year. Grade structure may vary due to growth in certain school areas and construction of new facilities; however, the primary design is elementary, middle and high school.
Hernando Desoto discovered the Mississippi River in this vicinity in 1541. On the site of Memphis in 1682, La Salle built Fort Prudhomme, and in 1794 John Overton, an Indian affairs agent, established a trading post on the bluff. Three businessmen founded the city in 1819: James Winchester, John Overton and Andrew Jackson—who later became President of the United States. It was incorporated in 1826 and named Memphis (literally translated as “Place of Good Adobe”) by Jackson.
In the southwestern most part of the state, Memphis lies where Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas meet, thus making it easily accessible. This mid-America location is a definite advantage to business, industry, tourists and residents. River, rail, motor and air form the area’s highly developed transportation network, establishing the city as America’s distribution center.
Memphis is a city on the move—a changing city that is working to grow better as well as bigger. Memphis is the largest city in Tennessee and the seat of Shelby County, situated high on the Chickasaw Bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. Memphis’ estimated population in 2004 was 641,418, the 18th largest in the nation. Shelby County’s 2004 population was estimated at 908,843, with an eight-county metropolitan population of more than 1.1 million.
There are over two hundred parks in Memphis, Shelby County and the surrounding communities, covering over 25,000 acres of parkland.
More than 1,900 churches, representing a multitude of faiths, offer places of worship for the varied population of this area.
The Memphis-Shelby County Public Library is an excellent system with 23 branches.
Memphis is the largest city in the world to get all its water from artesian wells—situated atop a trillion gallons of some of the world’s purest artesian well water.
The Memphis area is blessed with a number of local galleries filled with traditional and contemporary art works. There are four major museums and a long list of galleries and alternative spaces offered by area businesses and organizations.
Memphis is home to numerous theaters offering professional and amateur productions. The city also offers opera, ballet, modern dance and a range of other cultural offerings.
The Memphis Arts Council events ensure Memphis a fine cultural life. Following are events and participants with regular offerings and shows: Memphis Arts Festival; Memphis Brooks Museum of Art; Center for Southern Folklore; Dixon Gallery and Gardens; Memphis College of Art; University of Memphis Art Museum; Memphis Symphony Orchestra; Memphis Concert Ballet; University of Memphis and Rhodes College Music Departments; Opera Memphis; Overton Park Shell; Crossroads Music Exposition; Blues City Cultural Center; Circuit Playhouse; Germantown Community Theater; The Orpheum Theater; Playhouse on the Square; and Theater Memphis. Each group offers a variety of programs.
Outlying cities also have their own facilities. Examples are the Bartlett Performing Arts Center, Collierville’s Harrell Performing Arts Theater, and the Germantown Performing Arts Centre.
Business and Industry
Memphis has a diverse business history. Clarence Saunders founded Piggly Wiggly, America’s first true self-service grocery store, in Memphis in 1916. The late Kemmons Wilson founded the first Holiday Inn in Memphis in 1952, revolutionizing the lodging industry.
Memphis is headquarters of three Fortune 500 Companies: FedEx, AutoZone, and Union Planters. It is home to 30,000 FedEx employees, 5,000 airline pilots and 2,300 doctors.
Memphis is the agriculture business center of the South. It is the largest spot-cotton trading market in the world. Nearly one-half of the nation’s cotton crops is bought or sold each year by members of the Memphis Cotton Exchange. It is a trading center for farmers in Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and parts of Alabama and Kentucky.
The largest city in the state, Memphis is the hardwood lumber capital of the world, a major river port (fourth largest inland port in the U.S.), third largest rail center in the U.S. and a major market for livestock.
Transportation, low-cost utilities, abundant water, skilled labor and cultural, educational and recreational facilities attract business and industry to the city. There are more than 590,000 non-agriculture employees, and approximately 59,000 employed in manufacturing in Memphis. Many companies, deciding to take advantage of the low cost of living, temperate climate, and premium workforce, have made Memphis into a headquarters city. Some of the products made in the Memphis region are: jams and jellies, bubble gum, cereals, fishing lures, golf clubs, ceiling fans, candy, guitars, potato chips and snack products, elevators, home appliances, gift-wrap and other paper products, tires and medical implants.
Memphis rarely experiences long periods of extreme hot and cold. With an average temperature of 62 degrees, Memphis has year-round easy living. Monthly precipitation averages four to five inches in winter and spring, with two to three inches in summer and fall.
The Memphis climate has a distinct change of seasons, making the city a beautiful place to live. However, the temperatures are subject to a rapid change at any time. Summer highs are normally in the 90s especially in July and August. The temperature averages around 40 degrees in January.
Usually there isn’t a lot of snow in this area, about 4-1/2 inches annually. The rainfall averages around 48 inches per year.
The Memphis City Schools is the largest school system in the state of Tennessee and the 21st largest metropolitan school system in the nation. The school system has 31 high schools, 29 middle and junior high schools, 112 elementary schools, seven career/technical centers and two special schools, with a total enrollment of more than 120,000 students in grades K-12.
There are also 30 optional schools within the district, offering students choices in programs such as health sciences, international studies, college preparatory programs, engineering, creative and performing arts, banking and finance, aviation, travel and tourism, manufacturing and advanced placement course for possible college credit.
All city schools are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The Memphis City School system has more than 15,000 full-time and part-time employees. The school system is the second largest single employer in Memphis.
Additionally, there are approximately 30 private schools in the area.
There are 25 colleges and universities in the Memphis area with a total of more than 47,000 students. The largest is the University of Memphis. Some others are Rhodes College, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Christian Brothers University, LeMoyne-Owen College, Southern College of Optometry and Memphis College of Art.
Memphis is home to many entertainment venues including: Libertyland (amusement park); Mid-South Fair (10 days annually beginning in late September at the Memphis Fairgrounds); Peabody Place Entertainment and Retail Center; Memphis Pink Palace Museum and IMAX Theatre; Center for Southern Folklore; Children’s Museum of Memphis; Chucalissa Archaeological Museum; Fire Museum; National Civil Rights Museum; Mallory-Neely House; Magevney House; Memphis in May (a month’s worth of music and fun downtown by the Mississippi River); Lichertman Nature Center; Memphis Botanic Garden; Memphis Zoo (Overton Park); Memphis Queen Line Riverboats; Mud Island River Park; and Peabody Hotel. Just south of Memphis in Tunica County, Mississippi, there are nine casinos. Just across the Mississippi River from downtown Memphis in West Memphis, Ark., is Southland Greyhound Park.
The City of Memphis and Shelby County governments are not very different. They both have a mayor and a legislative body. Memphis has a mayor-council form of government. An elected mayor and 13 elected city council members govern the city. Voters living in Memphis elect the city mayor and council members.
The legislative branch of Shelby County is a 13-member Shelby County Commission, with an elected mayor. Voters from throughout the county elect the county mayor and commissioners, including persons living within the City of Memphis.
Shelby County is served by 17 representatives in the state House of Representatives, and 6 senators in the State Senate.
Health care is one of the most important businesses in Memphis. The area has 19 hospitals with over 4,000 beds, and employs more than 21,000 full-time personnel.
The Regional Medical Center at Memphis is the South’s largest and one of the nation’s foremost centers for medical research. Known as “The Med,” it is an acute care “safety net” hospital. It provides care for high-risk births and the region’s only facility for Level I trauma injuries. It also houses the only full treatment burn center within 150 miles, and employs more than 1,800 people.
Baptist Memorial Health Care System operates six hospitals in the metro area.
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis is one of the nation’s top medical schools. The UT campus consists of six colleges, a School of Biomedical Engineering and 106-bed Bowld Hospital.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas, is a center for clinical research and care of children with catastrophic diseases. It is world famous for its cancer research and its success in treating childhood cancers. In addition, it is currently conducting major research on cancers, acquired and inherited immunodeficiency and genetic disorders.
Saint Francis Hospital is one of the largest hospitals in the Memphis area, with 609 beds and a new facility in Bartlett. Methodist Hospitals of Memphis operate six facilities with a total of more than 1,800 beds.
LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center serves 95 counties in six states with satellite facilities in the area. LeBonheur is the Mid-South’s premier pediatric hospital and operates the region’s only pediatric emergency department and pediatric intensive care unit. A licensed, fully accredited 225-bed center, it is recognized as the region’s pediatric specialty referral center.
The VA Medical Center provides medical care for veterans living in the area on its 33-acre compound. It serves the region as a referral center for spinal cord injuries and prosthetic treatment and has 274 beds.
Beale Street is the legendary birthplace of the blues in the early 20th century—a tradition that continues today with an entertainment district that is abundant in barbecue, festivals, music and nightlife. Memphis is also the birthplace of rock and roll and soul music.
Some famous Memphians, past and present, with music connections are Elvis Presley, Justin Timberlake, Cybil Sheperd, Booker T and the MGs, Charlie Rich, Isaac Hayes, Wilson Pickett, Jerry Lee Lewis, Al Green, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Rufus Thomas, George Hamilton, and B.B. King.
Elvis’ home, Graceland, attracts thousands of visitors every year, ranking it the second most visited home in America (only the White House attracts more visitors each year).
Sun Studio, where such legendary artists as Johnny Cash, Elvis and Carl Perkins recorded, is open for tours.
The Mid-South area offers more than 100 public recreation facilities operated by the state, county or City of Memphis. Available within minutes are boating, fishing, canoeing, golf, hiking and swimming, just to mention a few.
The Memphis area is famous for its bird and duck hunting. Deer hunts are held in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi. Memphis is the home of Ducks Unlimited headquarters, a worldwide leader in conservation.
Upland game hunting for squirrel, rabbit, quail and dove is enjoyed throughout the Mid-South. There are more than 100,000 acres of state-managed wildlife management areas open for hunting in the Mid-South area. Within a short radius of Memphis, year-round fishermen catch bass, crappie and pan fish.
Outstanding sports events include the FedEx-St. Jude Classic professional golf championship in June and the Kroger-St. Jude Indoor Tennis Tournament each February. The Memphis Park Service sponsors a huge array of sports programs, including softball, soccer, baseball and basketball.
The University of Memphis Tiger basketball team is one of the more popular sports teams in the area. The home games are played in the 18,500-seat FedEx Forum. The RiverKings of the Central Hockey League play in Desoto County, Miss., just across the state line from Memphis. AutoZone Park downtown is the home of the Redbirds, the AAA affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. Memphis is also home to the Grizzlies of the National Basketball Association that play at FedEx Forum.
The Liberty Bowl Football Classic, held each year in late December, offers excitement for Mid-South football fans. This game pits the champions of Conference USA and the Mountain West conference against each other. The game draws thousands of fans yearly.
Golf and tennis courts are especially plentiful in Memphis. There are more than 80 public tennis courts and many private club courts. There are 14 public golf courses, more than a dozen private courses, country clubs, numerous swimming pools, tennis courts and other recreational facilities in the metro area.
One major key to the growth and continuing strength of Memphis is the central location that makes it an important international transportation and trade center.
Memphis International Airport, which occupies 4,300 acres, is 13 driving miles from downtown Memphis and is less than 30 minutes from all major Memphis business centers. It offers direct service to most national business centers and is one of the most efficient airports in the world. Seven major airlines and 14 regional passenger airlines serve the airport. Together they provide more than 339 flights daily out of Memphis.
Fourteen cargo airlines, including the main hub of Federal Express, operate out of Memphis International Airport, making it the world’s number one cargo airport, moving more airfreight than any other airport.
Four bridges span the Mississippi River at Memphis: the Frisco (built in 1892), Harahan (1916), Memphis/Arkansas (1949) and Hernando Desoto (1973).
The Port of Memphis is the second largest port on the Mississippi River, handling as much as 18 million tons of cargo annually. The extensive network of customers, employers, suppliers and employees stretches across the Mid-South region and forms an essential part of the economic fabric that unifies the region. With easy interstate access to the airport and its central location to inland waterways, the Port of Memphis is strategically positioned to provide a definite advantage in meeting the logistical challenges of domestic and international businesses.