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.

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