The North-South Mobile and Ohio rail line was built through the area in 1857. This line was crossed by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad in 1859. The Humboldt community first developed in the area of the "crossing" of these two railroads. The city was chartered in 1866. Although accounts differ about the person responsible for Humboldt was named for the famed German explorer, Baron Alexander von Humboldt.
General Grant captured both railroads in the early days of the Civil War and built a fort near the "Crossing". In the first of his noted raids into West Tennessee, confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest captured the fort but abandoned it soon after destroying the railroad tracks, bridges and rolling stock. After the Civil War, the people set about building town, and in 1870 the population had grown to 2,000. The municipal water and light system was established in 1895 and the first improved streets were built in 1909. The sewer system was built in 1921, and by 1925, the population exceeded 4,000. At this time, the city boasted of having 6 churches, 3 schools, 5 lodges, 11 industries, 6 restaurants and 2 hotels.
Agriculture was very important in the early development of Humboldt. The one crop cotton system of the 1870's gave way to diversification. Small trial fields of strawberries and rhubarb led to large and prosperous fruit and vegetable farming operation including tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce and sweet potatoes. A number of shipping and processing industries developed to serve this growing and diversified agricultural base.
To promote the expanding strawberry industry, the West Tennessee Strawberry Festival was founded in 1934. This event is still held each year in early May bringing over 100,000 visitors annually to the city for parades, beauty reviews, horse shows and other events. After World War II, many companies chose Humboldt as a site for new manufacturing facilities. They have benefited from an industrious workforce and have continued to expand their local operations.
In 1994, the West Tennessee Regional Arts Center was created. This unique facility makes available many cultural opportunities not found elsewhere in the region.
Humboldt was built as a result of an independent pioneer "can do" spirit. The city has fully participated in the progress of the latter part of the Twentieth Century and is well positioned to be a leader in the new millennium. We invite you to visit awhile or stay a lifetime.
The Humboldt area was settled after Andrew Jackson Isaac Shelby signed a treaty with the Chickasaw Indians in 1818. A number of small villages sprang up along the Forked Deer River and other locations near the resent Humboldt. Gibson County was created in 1823.