Milan (pronounced "MY-lunn") is a city in Gibson County, Tennessee. The population was 7,851 at the 2010 census. It is Gibson County's second largest city, after Humboldt.
The name of the city supposedly comes from an incident where, upon being asked "Whose land is this?" by a railroad surveyor, an early settler said "It's my land." It is believed the city was named after Milan, Italy. Milan is nicknamed "Bullet Town", due to the presences of Milan Arsenal.
Residents of Milan are usually referred to as Milanites.
Milan is approximately 100 miles (160 km) northeast of Memphis and 140 miles (230 km) west of Nashville, at an elevation of 424 feet (129 m) above sea level.
Milan's elevation of 424 feet (129 m) is the highest point between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico on the former Illinois Central Railroad.
In a 1944 article, the Saturday Evening Post, in discussing the boom created by the Milan Arsenal during World War II, predicted Milan would become a "ghost town" when the war was over.
In the 1940's, Milan became the first city in the south to play Little League baseball.
Led by the late Dr. Robert P. Denney, a dentist in Milan, Milan became the first city in Tennessee to fluoridate its drinking water, and for years its school children were regularly examined in a study of the effects of fluoridation by the University of Tennessee dental school.
Milan has a mayor-board of aldermen form of government. The mayor, presently Chris Crider, serves a four-year term. There are four wards, each of which elects two aldermen. Milan's City Hall is located downtown. A new public safety building, housing police and fire departments, a jail and a courtroom, has been constructed in the south part of town.
Public education in Milan is provided by the Milan Special School District, which was formed in the 1980's and includes territory immediately adjacent to the Milan city limits. The district is the successor to the Milan City Schools, formed in the 1960's when the Milan schools left the Gibson County Board of Education and became independent. The system is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Presently, the position of Director of Schools is held by Dr. Mary Reel. She was appointed to the position by the school board in February 2007.
There are three schools: Milan High School (which contains the Milan Vo-Tech center) serving grades 9–12, Milan Elementary, serving grades K-4, and Milan Middle, serving grades 5–8. Historically, there were four schools - K.D. McKellar, grades 1–8, Park Avenue, also grades 1-8, Milan High School, 9-12, and Polk-Clark, which served black students in all twelve grades. McKellar's and Park Avenue's buildings were recently demolished; Polk-Clark's is now a community center.
The Milan High athletic teams, the Bulldogs, have won state championships in football, girls' basketball, and baseball. The football team has been considered a state powerhouse since the 1960's. John Tucker, who once held the state record for most victories as a head coach, coached at Milan for 25 years. The Bulldogs won two state championships under Tucker, and have won two under present head coach Jeff Morris. A large number of young men from Milan High have gone on to play college football for NCAA division I and II teams, as well as NAIA teams. The former Polk-Clark high school, known as the Buffaloes, fielded powerful basketball teams. In 1960, in addition to winning the state girls' basketball championship, Milan High won the "Quiz 'Em on the Air", a quizbowl-style competition on a Memphis television station. Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) is one of the active CTE student organizations which is composed of students in Family and Consumer Science courses. There have been 4 state officers from Milan High and many state and national competitive event winners.
The Milan High School Alumni Association is believed to be the oldest and most active organization of its kind. Alumni Day is held on the third Saturday in June each year. Each year, the MHSAA presents thousands of dollars in scholarships to graduating seniors. There is also an active Polk-Clark alumni organization.
The Milan Endowment for Growth in Academics (MEGA), is Tennessee's first private community financial endowment for public education. Proceeds provide public school students with opportunities not covered by the school budget. Only the income of the fund is spent. The principal is kept intact to yield proceeds for future years. Since its inception in 1990, MEGA has disbursed money for over 150 different projects. The total amount of the endowment is now over $400,000.
Milan is at the junction of U.S. Routes 45E and 79 (also known as U.S. Route 70A). State Route 104 also runs through the city. Unlike many cities in West Tennessee, there are no highway bypasses around the city.
Milan is served by two railroads: CSX (formerly Louisville and Nashville) and West Tennessee (formerly Illinois Central, then Norfolk Southern). The Gibson County Airport (general aviation) is located between Milan and Trenton. Airline service is nearby at McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport in Jackson, and Milan is within a few hours of the larger airports at Memphis and Nashville.
Milan is the site of the West Tennessee Agricultural Museum (a part of the University of Tennessee, which has an agricultural experiment station located at Milan). The museum contains more than 2,700 artifacts and farm tools from the local agrarian culture. The University of Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station conducts crop research, crop management and erosion control experiments. The no-till method of farming originated at the Milan facility. The experiment station is host of the Milan No Till-Field Day, an agricultural demonstration event held on the fourth Thursday of July in even-numbered years. This event draws visitors from many states. The Buford Ellington 4-H Club Training Center is located at the experiment station.
Milan has a large, modern city park located on State Route 104. Milan is the home of Johnnie Hale Stadium, an American football facility which bears the name of a female schoolteacher, located just off the U.S. 45E-U.S. 79 intersection. For many years, Johnnie Hale Stadium hosted a high school football bowl game, the West Tennessee Jaycee Bowl. The 1971 TSSAA Class AA championship game was also held there.
The Milan Golf and Country Club, a private club, has an 18-hole course.
The public library, Mildred G. Fields Library, contains 35,000 volumes and is housed in a building on Van Hook Street. The B.D.Bryant Memorial Library, located on First Street, houses a collection of rare religious books. This privately owned library is open to the public. The U.S. Post Office Building in Milan is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Water, sewer, and electricity are provided by the city through the Department of Public Utilities. Drinking water is extracted from deep wells, and is very pure. Electricity is obtained from the Tennessee Valley Authority. Natural gas is provided by the Gibson County Utility District.
Milan General Hospital, a 73-bed acute care facility located on Highland Avenue, has been a for-profit entity since 1998. It was founded as Clemmer Clinic in 1941, and then was a city-owned entity for many years. The city cemetery, Oakwood Cemetery, is located on Highland Avenue.
The Milan Army Ammunition Plant (also known as the Milan Arsenal) is located outside Milan. Although the long-term future of the plant is uncertain, it is currently still in operation.
Milan has a weekly newspaper, the Milan Mirror-Exchange. The paper was formed by the merger of the Milan Exchange, which was founded in the nineteenth century, and the Milan Mirror, which dated from the 1960s.
Milan has no television station, but is within the reach of Jackson and Memphis stations. A cable television service is provided by Charter Communications.
Radio stations licensed to Milan are WYNU (92.3 FM) and WAMP (99.1 FM).
In 2006, award winning novelist John Green wrote a novel titled An Abundance of Katherines which took place mainly in Milan, Tennessee.
Notable natives and residents of Milan, past and present, include:
Turner Barber, major league baseball player
Gordon Browning, Governor of Tennessee, 1937–1939 and 1949–1953
Ben Cantwell, major league baseball player
Kellye Cash, 1987 Miss America and 1986 Miss Tennessee (not a Milan native, but entered the pageant through the local pageant in Milan, and is now a Milan resident)
Andy Holt, president of the University of Tennessee from 1959 to 1970, was born in Milan
Buddy Leach, saxophonist with George Thorogood & The Destroyers
W. Winfred Moore, Baptist pastor in Amarillo, Texas, and former vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention
Jack Parnell, radio personality and widely-heard voice-over announcer (and father of former Saturday Night Live cast member Chris Parnell)
Joe Staton, illustrator and writer of comic books
Wild Bill Wright, Negro League baseball player
Goodspeed's History of Gibson County
Milan Special School District