city, seat (1854) of Putnam county, on the Cumberland Plateau in north-central Tennessee, U.S., about halfway between Nashville and Knoxville. Founded as the county seat in 1854, it was named for Major Richard F. Cooke, one of the organizers of Putnam county. It developed as an agricultural, timber, and mining community but later acquired diversified industries, including food processing and the manufacture of clothing, heating elements, and automotive parts. The city is a popular retirement community, and tourism is also important. Cookeville is the seat of Tennessee Technological University (1915), which administers the Joe L. Evins Appalachian Center for Crafts near Smithville, about 20 miles (30 km) to the southwest. The Center Hill Dam and Lake are to the west. Several state parks lie within 50 miles (80 km) of Cookeville, including Standing Stone to the north, Fall Creek Falls to the south, Edgar Evins to the west, and Burgess Falls State Natural Area to the southwest. Inc. town, 1903; city, 1962. Pop. (1990) 21,744; (2000) 23,923.
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