How much do you really know about Tennessee? Take the quiz

Friday, June 11, 2021, Vol. 45, No. 24


Happy 225th birthday, Tennessee! You don’t look a day over 210!

Sorry I’m a little late. In my defense, a 225th isn’t really one of those numbers that imprint on the brain. There’s not even a word for it, strictly speaking, though attempts have been made. A couple of years ago, when the University of Tennessee was marking its 225th, “quasquibicentennial” was used to describe the occasion.

How’s that for a mouthful?

It had been used before, including in 2001, in honor of the nation’s 225th. It’s basically a makeshift adaptation of something coined in 1961 to describe a 125th anniversary, quasquicentennial. The “quasqui” was a merging of the Latin quarta que, or quadrans que, intended to indicate “and a fourth,” invented by ...

Lord. Somebody help me out of this rabbit hole.

I observed the actual event – June 1 – in a low-key manner, by taking a WSMV-TV online trivia test to see how well I know the Volunteer State. I make no claims to be a Tennessean, having been born in Mississippi, but I did passably well, nailing 10 of the 14 questions.

I probably should have known Justin Timberlake is from Memphis. My guess, Britney Spears, was actually born in Mississippi. Dang! Still, I can’t be too upset at not knowing the first All-American football player for Tennessee. Do you? (Gene McEver.)

All in all it was a fun exercise, though, at 14 questions, obviously not comprehensive in its scope. So, in competition with WSMV, I present my own Tennessee trivia quiz – with 15 questions! Answers at the bottom. Good luck.

1. How many states does Tennessee border?

a. Six

b. Seven

c. Eight

d. None. Tennessee is the center of the universe. Other states border us.

2. The supersecret World War II project in Oak Ridge was code-named:

a. Operation Overlord

b. The Manhattan Project

c. Thunderball

d. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire

3. What is Tennessee’s most popular tourist attraction?

a. Graceland

b. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

c. The Hermitage

d. Pancake Pantry during CMA Fest

4. What is the highest point in the state?

a. Lookout Mountain

b. Tricorner Knob

c. Clingmans Dome

d. Willie Nelson’s tour bus

5. What is the lowest point?

a. Lost Sea underground lake

b. Mississippi River at the state line

c. Neyland Stadium after a Vandy win

d. Kid Rock’s bar on Broadway

6. Tennessee is said by some to have gotten its name from the Yuchi Indian word ‘Tana-see,’ meaning:

a. Rolling hills

b. The meeting place

c. River village

d. Go to hell, Alabama

7. The term “Butternut” applied to Tennessee refers to:

a. A species of walnut tree native to West Tennessee

b. The tan color of Tennessee Civil War uniforms

c. A candy bar originating in Tullahoma

d. The top-selling squash in Publix

8. The geographical center of Tennessee is:

a. Murfreesboro

b. Franklin

c. Mount Juliet

d. Dolly Parton’s house in Brentwood

9. Tennessee’s leading agricultural crop is:

a. Cotton

b. Corn

c. Soybeans

d. Chewing tobacco

10. Tennessee’s first constitution in 1796 set the governor’s annual salary at

a. $250

b. $500

c. $750

d. 12 hogs, 25 chickens, nine cows and “all the whiskey he can drink.”

11. The highest temperature ever recorded in Tennessee was:

a. 109 degrees, Celina, 1903

b. 113 degrees, Perryville, 1930

c. 112 degrees, Clarksville, 1890

d. 117 degrees, Marsha Blackburn’s forehead when Trump lost

12. In Chattanooga in 1916, Ernest Holmes invented

a. Goo Goo Clusters

b. The tow truck

c. Mountain Dew

d. Chattanooga cold chicken (It never caught on.)

13. The state motto is:

a. Agriculture and Commerce

b. Education and Industry

c. Pickin’ and Grinnin’

d. Business up front, party in the back

14. The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival takes its name from

a. Australian slang for “hoppin’ big time”

b. Creole slang for “good stuff”

c. Polynesian slang for “waiting in line”

d. Tennessee slang for “bring the weed”

15. Which of the following did Elvis keep as a pet at one time or another?

a. Mynah bird

b. Chimpanzee

c. Squirrel monkey

d. Ann-Margret

Answers: 1. c, 2. b, 3. b, 4. c, 5. b, 6. b, 7. b, 8. a, 9. c, 10. c, 11. b, 12. b, but Goo Goo Clusters and Mountain Dew also were invented here. 13. a, 14. b, 15. All of the above.

Joe Rogers is a former writer for The Tennessean and editor for The New York Times. He is retired and living in Nashville. He can be reached at