We often refer to Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area as the place where “Our Heritage Comes to Life,” and that it does! With thanks to a great staff and a host of volunteers who love to share our remarkable history, we are able to meet our goal of presenting educational family programs throughout the year.
The Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia, the Watauga Valley Fife and Drum Corps, Friends of Sycamore Shoals, and the East Tennessee Master Gardeners are but a few of the many folks who share their time at Sycamore Shoals.
The theme that draws us all together is the history of this place; a history so important that it was an integral component of the growth of our fledgling nation in the late 18th century.
Along the Watauga Old Fields, the first democratic government on this continent came to pass – the Watauga Association in 1772. It is impressive knowing these early settlers developed a plan for law and order on the frontier, coupled with the concept that ‘every free man would have a vote.’ Their rules and regulations came to pass 4 years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
The Transylvania Purchase of 1775 was deemed the largest private real estate transaction on this continent with negotiations between the Cherokee leaders and Judge Richard Henderson on the grounds of Sycamore Shoals. By 1776, Fort Watauga was constructed using the home place of the Talbot family to protect the settlement from Cherokee attack. Under the leadership of Dragging Canoe, the Cherokee warriors were fighting to protect their lands and drive the settlers back over the mountains.
Sycamore Shoals is also well known for the 1780 Muster of the Overmountain Men during the American Revolution. From Sycamore Shoals, a militia moved forth in search of British Major Patrick Ferguson in response to his threat to destroy their homes west of the mountains. Their successful defeat of Ferguson at Kings Mountain was deemed by many historians an event which ultimately ‘turned the tide of the American Revolution.’
Sycamore Shoals is an historic site of national significance and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965 and then placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Thanks to the determination of individuals who saw the need to preserve the very grounds on which these historic events took place, Sycamore Shoals became a Tennessee State Park in 1976.
Written by Jennifer Bauer
Learn more about Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area