Sequoyah Birthplace Museum & Fort Loudon Historical Park

Worth a good two hours, possibly more, both attractions are on a man-made island. In the valleys near this location sat both a Colonial era British Fort, and an Indian village that was the birthplace of a Famous Native American; the original valley locations for both the fort and village were submerged in 1979, in order to create the Tellico reservoir, and  island.

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I came here wanting to see Sequoyah’s birthplace, having been told about this it by the folks at New Echota in Georgia, where there is a whole display describing his achievements. Sequoyah was so famous in his day that the trees of the same name were named after him; he achieved this notoriety because, after recognizing the importance of the written language in empowering the invading whites, he sat down and all by himself invented a phonic alphabet for the Cherokee language so that his people too could be literate. And the village in which he was born was called Tuskegee

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Below a plaque in memory of the Cherokee people who had lived in the valley that had been flooded in 1979, and the 191 burial sites that had to be moved to this new burial mound in order to create the Tellico reservoir

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I am putting this on the list of places that I didn’t schedule in near enough time for. I honestly was expecting it to be less than it was. By the time I was getting there, it was due to close in about 10 minutes. I had the phone number and called, and the lady working the desk said she would stick around for an extra 15 for me, and another Family that happened to show up can see the place at the same time I arrived (they had not called).

As I said before, this is not actually the original location, the Tennessee Valley Authority had flooded the whole area to create a electric damn and this is where they move to the his home, and created the visitor’s center which explains all about the history of the tribes, and the import of Sequoyah’s achievements.

Once this place closed, I moved across the street to the rebuilt British fort built there. By the time I arrived the visitor’s center had already close, so I can’t speak to it.

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Behind the visitor’s center however is the fort, which only closes at sundown… and it is kind of seriously cool. It’s a living history museum which includes everything, down to sheets on the soldiers bunks

 

Hiwassee River Heritage Center

To be blunt, this is a “not yet ready for prime time” educational center about the Cherokee nation and the ‘Trail of Tears,’ which passed along the old ‘highway’ (aka, historic paved road) the center sits next to.  According to the woman who ran the place, they’re still getting funding and were just recently able to buy this building (which looks like it might have been some sort of office). The plan is to tear down the current structure, in the very near future — just a matter of months, and replace it with a much larger facility on the same location.

Currently, all they really have to show are some placards on the wall that tell the story of what happened, which are (I’m pretty sure) duplicates of ones I already saw on the walls of other more developed locations like New Echota (I’m guessing they were gifts from a state historical society or some such). She said that once they expand there will also be artifacts from local digs and research facilities, with a full library, etc. Among the placards was a description of archeological digs done in the area before the Tennessee Valley Authority had put in a damn that flooded many historic Indian sites back in the 1930’s as part of the depression area development of the region, and I assume many of the artifacts will be from those digs.

I look forward to coming back to this place at some later date to see how it progresses.

When I first drove here, I thought that maybe my GPS had failed me, because there were no signs leading to here, but happily, there are nice clear signs out front. Then I saw the sign on the door… firstly, the author forgot to include the local area code and not being a from there I had no idea what to dial, and secondly, my T-mobile phone had no signal, as in none. I went next door to the gas station and asked a nice young guy if he had a working cell phone and would he please call the number for me. The woman who runs the place was apparently 15 minutes away running errands, but said to wait for her.

While doing that, I went next door to a nice looking antiques place (other people’s junk), which actually had a few things worth buying, as a well a huge collection of abandoned family photographs that go back to the 1800’s (we don’t recognize any of these relatives so what will you pay us for them). It was kind of sad actually. The woman who ran the place gave me a free copy of a book about the history of the area written by a local man.