Community History

Martin is located in Weakley County, 130 miles northeast of Memphis, and 150 miles northwest of Nashville. Martin is the largest city in Weakley County. The city is served by U. S. Highway 45E, Tennessee State Highway 22, and the West Tennessee Railroad. (see the location map).

The Martin area is characterized by level to gently rolling land with an average elevation of about 400 feet. Most industrial areas are suitable for immediate construction with very little site preparation required.

Martin was founded in 1873 and incorporated in 1874. Two principal industries developed in Martin in the early 1880’s, the Martin Roller Mills Company and the Martin Planing Mill, and they represented capital stocks of $50,000 and $25,000 respectively. The Bank of Martin opened for business in 1886.

The city has been a pioneer in activities of higher education since the year 1900 when Hall Moody Institute, the first advanced educational institution, was established. In 1927, the school became The University of Tennessee Junior College and became a senior college in 1951, when it was named The University of Tennessee Martin Branch. In 1967, it officially became The University of Tennessee at Martin, a primary campus of the University of Tennessee. The University is perhaps one of the most important factors contributing to the growth and development of Martin and its economy.

This community seeks new industry and has a cooperative municipal government and citizenry. Martin maintains a sound business climate which is receptive to business, believes in and encourages the free enterprise system, has a realistic tax structure, and encourages good labor management relations.

Martin is located in northwestern Weakley County, 130 miles northeast of Memphis and 150 miles northwest of Nashville. It is the largest city in Weakley County with a population of 10,515. Martin is at the heart of a five-county metropolitan region of over 100,000 people. Our city is readily accessible from five exits off of Highway-22, and provides quick access to Everett Stewart Airport.

The city was founded in 1873 and named in honor of Captain William Martin, a prosperous landowner who settled in the area in 1838. By the late 1850’s Captain Martin influenced the Nashville and Northwestern Railway to construct a line which would run through the Martin estates, thus serving the citizens of the area.

During the early 1870’s Marshall and George Martin, sons of Captain Martin, began an intensive campaign to convince the Mississippi Central Railroad to route its railway through the town of Greenbriar Glade where the Martin Estate was located. They donated land for the railroad’s right-of-way, as well as land for the creation of a town park. Mississippi Central officials agreed with the proposal and the railroad was completed in December 1873.

Soon after the completion of the Mississippi Central, the town’s name Greenbriar Glade, was changed to Frost in honor of a railroad official. As the name Frost did not appeal to those wanting to settle in northwest Tennessee, George and Marshall petitioned to rename the town Martin, in honor of their father. Within a short time the name was officially changed.

The City of Martin has been a pioneer in the establishment of higher education since1900. Members of the First Baptist Church, under the leadership of Dr. I. N. Penick, established the first advanced educational institution in Martin, first known as Hall-Moody Normal. The name was later changed to Hall-Moody Institution. The growth of the educational institution was recognized through the University of Tennessee Agricultural School. The name was changed to the University of Tennessee Junior College and the first accredited college studies were offered. In 1951, the Junior College was designated the University of Tennessee Martin Branch with degrees offered in several areas. By 1967, the State Legislature named the institution – The University of Tennessee at Martin.

Economic Characteristics

The economy of Martin is extremely diversified. The economic base includes agriculture, manufacturing, construction, transportation, distribution, exporting, printing, textiles, food processing, finance and insurance, personal services, entertainment and recreation services, professional services and education (The University of Tennessee at Martin).

Per capita personal income in Weakley County has increased from $3,872 in 1975 to $19,933 in 1999. Total county retail sales in 1972 were $34-million, over $78 million in 1978, and in 2000, were over $260 million.

Labor Market Area

While Weakley County has five incorporated towns, the labor pool for each town is practically identical. The county has a total population of 34,895 with 47% of the people living in the rural areas.

Included in the Martin labor market area and within a radius of 25 miles of Martin are portions of six other Tennessee counties and two counties in Kentucky. Included in this area is a population of over 100,000 people. An excellent network of federal, state and county highways puts most of these people within 25 to 30 minutes driving time of Martin.

Labor Supply

An up to date estimate of available labor can be obtained from the Tennessee Department of Employment Security. At the present, it is estimated that more than 1,020 qualified and referable production workers between the ages of 18 and 45 years are available in the immediate Martin area. Additional workers would be available from areas more distant. Normal commuting distances of 25 miles and more are common in Western Tennessee. Weakley County schools graduated 285 students in 2000. It is estimated that 18.2% of these will be available for employment.


The Martin Housing Authority has 160 low rent housing units. The Authority has recently completed 100 of these units and they are both modern and attractive.

Of the new homes in the city more than 90% are family owned. Home prices (new) range from $50,000 to $90,000 for two bedroom homes, to $75,000 to $250,000 for three bedroom homes, depending on location and type of building. Older homes can be purchased for a lower price. Average construction cost will range from $55.00 to $85.00 per square foot.


Memphis data has been used here and any variation will be minor. The prevailing climate is temperate, with pronounced seasonal variations in both temperature and precipitation. Snowfall is variable from year to year. Most winters have little or none, while other winters can have a seasonal snowfall of up to 17 inches.

Average Temperature (30 years) Average Precipitation (30 years) Average Humidity (%) (21 years)
7:00am 1:00pm
January 42.0 6.07 81 66
February 44.6 4.69 81 62
March 51.6 5.07 78 57
April 61.9 4.63 80 53
May 70.8 4.23 82 55
June 79.8 3.68 83 55
July 81.8 3.54 85 56
August 81.0 2.97 87 54
September 74.4 2.82 85 53
October 63.6 2.72 85 53
November 50.6 4.38 81 54
December 43.5 4.93 81 62
Average: 62.1 Total: 49.73 Average: 82% Average: 56%

Average annual snowfall  – 4.8″

Frost free period  – March 20 to November 12, two hundred, thirty six days.

Percentage of possible sunshine  – 63%. Possible sunshine for the mid season months averaged about 45% for January, 61% for April, 69% for July and 70% for October.

Seasonal heating degrees days  – 3,116

Prevailing winds  – From South Southwest


The Martin area is characterized by level to gently rolling land with an average elevation of about 387 feet above sea level.