History of Hartford Tennessee
In 1853, the first permanent resident, Solomon Williams, came to what is now Hartford, Tennessee. Shortly after a man named Moses Clark settled and donated land on which a log meeting house was built. This meeting house had multiple uses including church services and school. The community was known as Pigeon Valley for much of the 19th century.
Pigeon Valley began thriving when the logging boom of the late 19th century took off. Lumber companies sought out the dense forests of the Appalachian Mountains for its timber. The Scottish-Carolina Timber and Land Company was among the first to harvest the trees in the Pigeon Valley area. Though the Scottish Lumber Company was prosperous in the area, it only lasted about six years. In 1886, a massive flood on the Pigeon River ruined the company’s stock of logs and the company was forced to close.
The name “Hartford” was given in honor of John Hart, co-owner of the Tennessee & North Carolina Railroad. Hartford developed quickly into a company town, after the Boice Hardwood Company erected a band mill along the river’s north bank. As the mill advanced in the 1920s, the town began to form. Several frame houses, a general store, a post office, a school and a movie theater were constructed. The sawmill’s generators provided electricity to the town from 5 am to 10 pm. People flocked to the town until the Great Depression hit in the early 1930s. This caused the timber market to dry up and Boice Hardwood closed its doors. The town of Hartford didn’t recover economically until the construction of I-40 in the 1960s.