Tennessee State Route 56

From the AARoads Wiki: Read about the road before you go
Jump to navigation Jump to search

State Route 56

TN 56; primary in red, secondary in blue
Route information
Maintained by TDOT
Length160.6 mi (258.5 km)
ExistedOctober 1, 1923[1]–present
Major junctions
South end SR 117 near Sherwood
Major intersections US 41A in Sewanee

I-24 / US 64 at Monteagle
US 41 in Tracy City
US 70S at McMinnville
US 70 at Smithville
I-40 near Silver Point & Baxter

US 70N near Baxter
North end KY 63 near Gamaliel, KY
CountryUnited States
CountiesFranklin, Marion, Grundy, Warren, DeKalb, Putnam, Jackson, Macon
Highway system
SR 55 SR 57

State Route 56 (SR 56) is a 160.6-mile-long (258.5 km) state highway that runs south to north in Middle Tennessee, from the Alabama state line near Sherwood to the Kentucky state line near Red Boiling Springs.

SR 56 is secondary south of Sewanee. It is primary (but unsigned) along US 41A and US 41 between Sewanee and Tracy City. From Tracy City to the Kentucky line, SR 56 is a signed primary route, except west from North Springs to Willette, where SR 151 carries primary traffic more directly to Red Boiling Springs.[2]

Route description

Alabama state line to McMinnville

SR 56 begins as a secondary state route at the Alabama state line south of Sherwood in Franklin County, (as a 2-lane) where the road continues south as Alabama State Route 117 into Jackson County, Alabama. SR 56 continues northward to the Crow Creek Valley, which is full of farmland, and passes through Sherwood before the highway becomes very curvy as it ascends into the Cumberland Plateau, passing through the Sherwood Forest, Carter State Natural Area, and Sewanee Natural Bridge portions of South Cumberland State Park.

SR 56 then enters Sewanee to become concurrent with US 41A/SR 15. The highway then turns east and becomes an unsigned primary highway. They have a junction with SR 156 in Saint Andrews before continuing to an interchange with I-24/US 64 (Exit 134) and entering Monteagle. They then have an intersection with US 41/SR 2, where both US 41A and SR 15 end and the roadway is taken over by US 41/SR 2, with SR 56 becoming concurrent with them as they enter downtown, straddling the line with Marion and Grundy Counties. After passing through downtown, they come to an intersection where SR 2 splits from US 41/SR 56, through it is unsigned, and US 41/SR 56 then continue east and leave Monteagle. They continue through countryside, passing by South Cumberland State Park visitor center and Grundy Forest State Natural Area portions of the park, before entering Tracy City, where SR 56 splits from US 41 to turn northward from Marion County into Grundy County, while US 41 turns south along unsigned SR 150. SR 56 continues north as a signed primary highway and passes through countryside and the community of Coalmont before becoming concurrent with SR 108 before entering Altamont. They enter downtown and have an intersection with SR 50 before SR 108 splits off and turns east. SR 56 continues north, where it has an intersection with Greeter Falls Road (which provides access to the Greeter Falls portion of Savage Gulf State Natural Area (South Cumberland State Park)), and passes through Beersheba Springs, where it has an intersection with Stone Door Road (which leads to the Stone Door portion of Savage Gulf State Natural Area (South Cumberland State Park)), before becoming curvy again as it descends the plateau before traveling up a narrow valley, where it passes through Irving College and runs parallel to the Collins River, before crossing into Warren County. SR 56 then continues on through farmland before entering into the city of McMinnville.

McMinnville to Silver Point

SR 56 traverses the center of the city of McMinnville. It enters the city at the intersection with SR 127. It then proceeds north through a neighborhood before having a Y-Intersection with SR 8, before becoming E Colville Street and passing through a major business district and crossing a bridge over the Barren Fork River. It then curves to the west and has an intersection with SR 380 (Main Street), just before entering downtown and coming to an intersection with SR 55 Bus (Chancery Street). SR 56 then turns north again along Chancery Street straight through the middle of downtown before having another intersection with SR 380 and widening a 4-lane undivided highway (Smithville Highway) to leave downtown and run through a major business district. It then has an intersection with US 70S/SR 1 (Bobby Ray Memorial Parkway) before narrowing to 2-lanes and leaving McMinnville. SR 56 continues north through farmland to have an intersection with SR 287 before crossing into DeKalb County.

SR 56 proceeds northward to have an intersection with SR 288 before entering Smithville to have an intersection with US 70/SR 26 in downtown. It then has an intersection with SR 83 near Smithville Municipal Airport before leaving Smithville to enter mountains, and become curvy again, and cross into Putnam County.

SR 56 continues north zig-zagging and crisscrossing atop various mountains and ridges before crossing a bridge over Center Hill Lake. It then continues through the mountains before entering Silver Point to have an intersection with SR 141 before becoming concurrent with I-40 at Exit 273.

Interstate 40 to Whitleyville

SR 56 runs concurrently with I-40 between exits 273 and 280. Old Baxter Road, the original SR 56 alignment from Silver Point to Baxter closely follows the interstate. After the junction with US 70N/SR 24, SR 56 continues northward through farmland and Bloomington Springs into Jackson County.

The highway then has an intersection and short concurrency with SR 290 in Center Grove before passing through some mountains and entering the town of Gainesboro. In downtown, SR 56 becomes concurrent with SR 53, and the two go north to the banks of the Cumberland River, where SR 53 splits from SR 56. SR 56 then becomes concurrent with SR 85 and SR 135 before crossing the river to leave Gainesboro. They continue through countryside to Jennings Creek, where SR 85 splits off, before heading on to Whitleyville, where SR 135 splits off via a Y-Intersection.

The route from I-40 to Gainesboro is known to residents of the Upper Cumberland as part of the Corridor J-1 project of the Appalachian Development Highway System, a unit of the Appalachian Regional Commission.[3]

North Springs to the Kentucky state line

SR 56 turns westward to meet SR 151 at North Springs, where SR 56 becomes a secondary route, enters Macon County, and makes a right turn to the north at the junction of SR 80 and SR 262 at Willette. SR 56 becomes primary again as the highway then enters farmland again and continues north to an intersection with SR 52 before entering Red Boiling Springs. It then continues into downtown to have another intersection with SR 151 before leaving Red Boiling Springs to continue north through farmland to end at the Kentucky state line. Upon reaching the Kentucky state line, the road continues as Kentucky Route 63 about 1 mile (1.6 km)south of Gamaliel.

Additional facts about the route

SR 56's entire course from Altamont to Gainesboro is a part of the Tennessee Scenic Parkway system.[4]


Before Interstate 40 was built in the 1960s, SR 56 went from Smithville to Silver Point, and right-turns to proceed up what is now the Old Baxter Road from Silver Point to Baxter, and then it went directly through the town of Baxter. After the interstate came through, a spur route was built to intersect with Exit 280 (the Baxter - Gainesboro exit) that bypasses Baxter.

The stretch of SR 56 between I-40 and Smithville was notorious for terrible curves prior to the late 1970s, but it was rebuilt and is now considered a good route to follow. Small sections of the original alignment that stil exist is now maintained by the county road departments of De Kalb and Puntam Counties.

SR 52 ran concurrently with SR 56 through Red Boiling Springs, and branched out eastward towards Clay County until 2003, when SR 52 was rerouted onto a bypass route around the city.[5][4]

Major intersections

SR 117 south – Stevenson
Alabama state line; southern terminus; SR 56 begins as a secondary highway
Sewanee14.022.5Natural Bridge Road - Sewanee Natural Bridge State Natural Area (South Cumberland State Park)
US 41A north (SR 15 west) – Cowan, Winchester
South end of unsigned wrong-way US 41A/SR 15 overlap; SR 56 becomes unsigned
Saint Andrews18.629.9
SR 156 south – Franklin State Forest, Orme, South Pittsburg
Northern terminus of SR 156; provides access to Sewanee-Franklin County Airport
I-24 / US 64 – Nashville, ChattanoogaI-24/US 64 exit 134
US 41 north (Dixie Highway W/SR 2 west) – Manchester, Murfreesboro
Southern terminus of US 41A and eastern terminus of unsigned SR 15; south end of US 41/SR 2 overlap
22.836.7Dixie Lee Avenue (SR 2 east) - ChattanoogaNorth end of SR 2 overlap
GrundySouth Cumberland State Park25.240.6South Cumberland State Park visitor centerAccess road into park
Tracy City27.544.33rd Street - Fiery Gizzard / Grundy Forest State Natural Area (South Cumberland State Park)
US 41 south (Colyar Street/SR 150 east) – Jasper
North end of US 41 overlap; western terminus of unsigned SR 150; SR 56 becomes a signed primary highway
Coalmont38.161.3 SR 108 – Pelham, Gruetli-Laager

SR 50 west / SR 108 south (Pelham Road) – Pelham
South end of SR 108 overlap; eastern terminus of SR 50
SR 108 north – Viola, McMinnville
North end of SR 108 overlap
43.970.7Greeter Falls Road - Greeter Falls / Savage Gulf State Natural Area (South Cumberland State Park)
Beersheba Springs48.177.4Stone Door Road - Stone Door / Savage Gulf State Natural Area (South Cumberland State Park)
Bridge over the Collins River
54.387.4Bridge over the Collins River

SR 127 (Shellsford Road) to SR 8 south – Dunlap, Viola, Hillsboro
SR 8 south (Harrison Ferry Road) – Dunlap
Northern terminus of SR 8
67.8109.1Jeremy Lynn Brown Memorial Bridge over the Barren Fork River
68.3109.9East Main Street To
SR 380 west

SR 55 Bus. west / SR 108 south (S Chancery Street) – Manchester
Eastern terminus of SR 55 Bus.; Northern terminus of SR 108
SR 380 (Main and Morford Streets)SR 380 follows one-way pair

US 70S (Bobby Ray Memorial Parkway/SR 1) to I-24 / SR 55 – Manchester, Woodbury, Sparta
Green Hill79.1127.3 SR 287 (Green Hill Road) – Rock Island State Park, Centertown, Morrison
SR 288 south (Keltonburg Road)
Northern terminus of SR 288
Smithville88.2141.9 US 70 (E Broad Street/SR 26) – Lebanon, Sparta
SR 83 south (Allen Ferry Road)
Northern terminus of SR 83
89.9144.7Allen's Chapel Road  – Smithville Municipal Airport
Bridge over Center Hill Lake/Caney Fork River
Silver Point100.9162.4
SR 141 west – Edgar Evins State Park
Eastern terminus of SR 141
I-40 west – Nashville
South end of I-40 overlap; SR 56 south follows exit 273
Roberts103.5166.6Old Baxter RoadI-40 exit 276
I-40 east – Knoxville
North end of I-40 overlap; SR 56 south follows exit 280
109.7176.5 US 70N (Nashville Highway/SR 24) – Carthage, Cookeville
Bloomington Springs111.3179.1
SR 291 south (Bloomington Road)
Northern terminus of SR 291
JacksonCenter Grove113.7183.0
SR 290 west (Shepardsville Highway)
South end of SR 290 overlap
SR 290 east (Old Gainesboro Highway) – Cookeville
North end of SR 290 overlap
SR 53 south (E Hull Avenue) – Gainesboro, Granville, Gainesboro Antique District
South end of SR 53 overlap

SR 53 north / SR 85 east / SR 135 south (Grundy Quarles Highway) – Celina, Livingston
North end of SR 53 overlap; south end of SR 85 / SR 135 overlap
Ben Wade Stone Memorial Bridge over the Cumberland River
Jennings Creek128.7207.1
SR 85 west – Defeated, Carthage
North end of SR 85 overlap
SR 135 north (Keeling Branch Highway)
North end of SR 135 overlap
North Springs137.1220.6
SR 151 north (Hudson Creek Highway) – Red Boiling Springs
Eastern (signed southern) terminus of SR 151; SR 56 turns secondary
SR 262 east (Wartrace Road)
south end of SR 262 overlap

SR 80 south (Carthage Road) / SR 262 west (Union Camp Road) – Lafayette, Carthage
North end of SR 262 overlap; northern terminus of SR 80; SR 56 turns primary
Red Boiling Springs151.2243.3 SR 52 (Lafayette Road) – Lafayette, Celina
SR 151 east (E Main Street) – Cyclemos Motorcycle Museum
Western terminus of SR 151
KY 63 north (Red Boiling Springs Road) – Gamaliel, Tompkinsville
Kentucky state line; northern terminus; SR 56 ends as a primary highway
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ Highway Planning Survey Division (1925). Biennial Report of the Commissioner of the Department of Highways and Public Works State of Tennessee for the Years 1923 and 1924 (PDF) (Report). Nashville: Tennessee Department of Highways and Public Works. pp. 39–44. Retrieved May 19, 2023.
  2. ^ Tennessee Department of Transportation (2016). Official Transportation Map (PDF) (Map). c.1:1,013,760. Nashville: Tennessee Department of Transportation. §§ A9, A10–E10. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  3. ^ “Status of Corridors in Tennessee”. Appalachian Regional Commission. September 2, 2013. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Tennessee Department of Transportation (2004). Tennessee's Official Transportation Map [front] (Map) (2004 ed.). Nashville: Tennessee Department of Transportation. § A9; A10-E10.
  5. ^ Tennessee Department of Transportation (2003). Tennessee's Official Transportation Map [front] (PDF) (Map) (2003 ed.). 1:1,013,760. Nashville: Tennessee Department of Transportation. § A9. Archived from the original on March 20, 2003. Retrieved October 14, 2017.{{cite map}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  • Tennessee Department of Transportation (24 January 2003). "State Highway and Interstate List 2003".