In 1805, the Cherokee ceded what is now Morgan County to the United States by signing the Third Treaty of Tellico. The first settlers arrived in the area shortly thereafter.
Wartburg was founded in the 1840s by George Gerding, a land speculator who bought up large tracts of land in what is now Morgan County with plans to establish a series of German colonies in the Cumberland region. German and Swiss immigrants arrived at the site by traveling from New Orleans up the Mississippi, Tennessee, and Emory rivers. They named the settlement after Wartburg Castle in Germany. Wartburg was officially incorporated in 1851.
In 1870, Morgan County elected to move its county seat from the now-defunct town of Montgomery to Wartburg. The arrival of the railroad in 1880 expanded logging and coal mining operations in the Cumberland region, moving Morgan County away from an economy based on subsistence agriculture to a wage-based economy.
Today, Morgan County is home to Frozen Head State Park, the headquarters of the Obed Wild and Scenic River, Lone Mountain State Forest, Catoosa Wildlife Management Area, Historic Rugby Tennessee, the Historic Brushy Mountain Penitentiary and also part of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.