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.


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


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


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.


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



New Echota Historic Site & Museum; Calhoun, GA

A memorial to, and attempted recreation of, the former capitol of the Cherokee nation (before it was uprooted and moved west during by President Andrew Jackson‘s trail of tears — one of the more disturbing events in US history).

I have very mixed feelings about places like this. On one hand, its good to see the dirty linen being laid out in the open, an attempt at some sort of ‘mea culpa‘ by the people of Georgia (yes our forefathers were dirt bags) … on the other hand, it’s a state park, and this benefits the state of Georgia and helps bring tourist dollars to the area. Because, let’s be real, the state of Georgia, and the ‘founders’ of the town of Calhoun, GA are the same people who eradicated the town in the fist place (of course with the help of Jackson, everyone’s favorite president–NOT!) and while I’m glad they built/are building this place, and I doubt it’s much of a money maker… I question the motives that created it as much as I appreciate the results.What I would have liked to see but didn’t (which does not mean it isn’t happening, just that it wasn’t front and center in the museum) evidence that tribal elders are somehow involved in this site, etc.

However, that said…





The New Echota site and museum is open Thurs-Sat, the web site says it’s open on Wednesdays, but the one time I went there on that day it was closed. The visitor’s center includes a small museum, and a 17 minute movie (also visible here) but most of it is outdoors, where they have tried to recreate some of what was there, and you are left to walk it alone at your own pace (as such, it’s better for a nice weather excursion). It’s a Georgia State park and marks some of the land that was supposedly the location of the national Capitol of the Cherokee nation before they were forcibly removed during the Trail of Tears. Counter to the Hollywood stereotype, they lived in western type wood homes, grew crops, had their own written language developed by Sequoyah, their own newspaper which had a world wide distribution (according to the docent), and literacy within the nation actually was higher than among the surrounding white communities (but at the time that wasn’t all that hard to achieve). During my second visit there (when it was open) It was Spring Break for a lot of the schools around the country, so there were a lot of kids and parents even though it was mid week.


Essentially its part of the land that they historically know the town was built on, and they’ve managed to rebuild a few of the building, etc., except for the home of the local missionary, which I believe may still be the original although massively refurbished. According to the docent the most accurate re-building is the printing house, because the soldiers who destroyed it had thrown all the metal print blocks out the windows before burning the place, and when archeologists did a dig they found them marking an almost perfect square on the ground. In addition the state’s historian had found that the missionary had sent in highly detailed requests for what had been needed to build the place, so that there are records of how many nails, sheets of wood, dimensions, etc.


One of the really cool things about the place is there’s a website they’ve created with a narrated walking tour for almost every building on the site that you can load to your smartphone/tablet at the ‘entrance building’, and then pull up each description when you reach that particular building.

Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village; Tifton, GA

Worth a full day stop in Tifton, Georgia (whose only other advantage is affordable hotels), when driving via Interstate 75 to or from Florida. I dedicated four hours to it, and didn’t come close to seeing it all.

I found a very good 15min film on Youtube about the how the museum is integrated with the Georgia University of agriculture, and supported by the state. It also includes interviews with the various docents and the crafts that they teach at the site.

While there is an indoor museum of agriculture at the back, the real draw here, which should enthrall kids and parents alike, is the historic village; it is probably the most complete example of what I like to call living museums that I’ve seen so far, complete with docents giving demonstrations.

When I first arrived at the attraction I was a little confused. There are essentially two entrances, the Georgia Museum of Agriculture, which is visible from Interstate 75, and the country store. When driving there, you first pass the country store (which seems to just be a store with a normal sized parking lot) and then there’s a driveway that seems to be beckoning you towards the Georgia Museum where there is a massive parking lot. So I drove to the Museum, parked, walked in, and was told by two historically garbed elderly women sitting at the entrance table there (knitting, no really, knitting), that in fact I was supposed to go to the country store first.

The Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village is actually a very good example of this “living museums” trend: they have brought in different buildings, historic ones from around the area and created a town of 1800s technology. To enter the town you ride a real steam locomotive train (the day I went the “conductor” looked to be about 8 years old),

and then are let off at the train depot (fully recreated) and left there to explore the surrounding homes, farms (with animals and fields), and often elderly docents in historic costumes/garb, who will walk you through the homes and explain whose home it was, where it was moved from, aspects of the histories of the families that owned the home, and how they ‘functioned’ with the 1800’s technology.

The old school (the original 1895 building)


There is also a working wood-mill, and a working gristmill, etc., where again docents will talk about the history of the building, and do demonstrations of the function the building fulfilled, usually allowing young kids to be involved in the safest jobs.

In the Mill, the docent also pointed out to us a board in the building where locals had sketched outlines of their most recent catches, comparing sizes, listing dates, etc.


Then there was also a downtown area of the village where there were stables, complete with the local masonic lodge (with all its secrets revealed, and explained)

and a doctor’s office, with all the doctor’s tools of the day:

They even had the historic home of the riches man in town, complete with a lot of the family antiques — this home is locked up, and wait outside on the porch for the docent to bring you in for a tour.

I was there during an off day, but still about 1/5 of the buildings had docents in them. Apparently if you come during their scheduled activity days, weekends, etc., all the building will have docents who are either explaining, or giving trade and cooking demonstrations of lost skills.