Supporting The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
Supporting The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail

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The Story

Trail segment along the Northern Route at Pea Ridge National Military Park in northwestern Arkansas. The wayside exhibits overlooking the Arkansas River at Fort Smith National Historic Site, located on the Water Route in western Arkansas, depict in 5 individual panels the removal stories of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), and Seminole Nations. The award-winning Trail of Tears exhibit at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah, OK, includes a tactile "bead wall," with each bead representing one removed Cherokee, totaling 16,000 beads. Also, life-cast figures depict the travel along the Trail of Tears.

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Historical Sites:
Audubon Acres, Chattanooga, TN
Located at 900 North Sanctuary Road in East Brainerd, Audubon Acres contains 120 acres of natural preserve along the Chickamauga Creek. A log cabin on the property known as "Spring Frog Cabin" is said to have been the home of Drowning Bear, a Cherokee full blood who was removed on the Trail of Tears. There is a staffed visitor center with exhibits. The sanctuary is owned and operated by the Chattanooga Audubon Society, Inc.

Brainerd Mission Cemetery, Chattanooga, TN
The cemetery is just under an acre and is located off of Brainerd Road and Eastgate Loop Road in the Brainerd Village Shopping Center. During removal, the missionaries sympathized with the Cherokee and most missionaries accompanied the Cherokee prior to the forced removal. On August 18, 1838, the last church service was held at the Brainerd Mission near the cemetery.

Brown’s Ferry Tavern, Chattanooga, TN
This site is private property and not open to the public; however, it is visible from Brown’s Ferry Road. Cherokee leader John Brown, who owned 640 acres in this area, ordered the construction of Browns Ferry Tavern in 1803. By the 1830s, Brown’s land formed the boundary of the Cherokee Nation. The road running past this structure was the route, in 1838, by which several Cherokee detachments were removed to present-day Oklahoma.  

Cherokee Removal Memorial Park, Birchwood, TN
This site is located on Blythe Ferry Road, north of TN Hwy 60, east of the Tennessee River bridge. The park, a memorial to the Cherokee removed during the Trail of Tears, is under development and is currently open to the public only on special occasions. Blythe Ferry, a feature of the park, was established by William Blythe and his Cherokee wife, Nannie Fields, around 1809. Thousands of Cherokee on the Northern Route detachments crossed the Tennessee River at Blythe Ferry, which was situated at the northwestern edge of the Cherokee Nation, on their journey west.

Fort Armistead Site, Coker Creek, Monroe County, TN
This site is located near TN Hwy 68 in the Cherokee National Forest in Monroe County.  Fort Armistead began as a “stand” on the Unicoi Turnpike and later served as a federal fort to protect Cherokee lands from the encroachment of gold prospectors. During the Trail of Tears, the site was used as an encampment for more than 3,000 Cherokee during their forced removal west.

Fort Cass Cherokee Agency & Emigration Depot, Charleston, TN
Fort Cass encompasses present-day Charleston and much of the surrounding countryside, along US Hwy 11, south of the Hiwassee River. Located at the site of the U.S. Agency to the Cherokee Nation from 1819 to 1834, Fort Cass was established on January 1, 1835, as the U.S. Army headquarters for the Cherokee removal. During the summer of 1838, nine concentration camps housing Cherokee rounded up by military forces for removal to Indian Territory, including the camp at Rattlesnake Springs, occupied the corridor between present-day Charleston and Cleveland.

Fort Marr Blockhouse, Benton, TN
Located beside U.S. Hwy 431, Fort Marr Blockhouse was originally located about a mile south of the Old Fort community, this blockhouse was part of an early nineteenth century fort.  The fort was renovated for the Cherokee Removal and named Fort Morrow.  The blockhouse is an example of fort construction of the period.

James Brown Cherokee Plantation, Ooltewah, TN
This land is private property and not open to the public, but it is visible from Ooltewah-Georgetown Road. The property, and several of its improvements, is linked to tribal leader James Brown, who was one of the 13 detachment leaders who, in September 1838, moved a group of 850 Cherokees to Indian Territory.

Martin Springs, between Jasper and Monteagle, TN
This site is located on private property and is not open to the public. It is located on Martin Springs Road, just off Interstate Hwy 24. Martin Springs served as a campsite and resting place for the Bell detachment, prior to their crossing of the Cumberland Plateau.

Moccasin Bend National Archeological District, Chattanooga, TN
Located on Moccasin Bend Road, across the Tennessee River from downtown Chattanooga, Moccasin Bend National Archeological District is a unit of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. This site is located between Ross’s Landing and Brown’s Ferry and Tavern and was traversed by the Drane and Bell detachments. The National Park Service describes Moccasin Bend as “the best preserved and most important compact, yet diverse, sample of archeological remains known in the Tennessee River Valley.”

Port Royal State Park, Adams, TN

Port Royal is located at 3300 Old Clarksville Highway, just north of State Highway 76. The park is designated as an official site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. During 1838 and 1839, Cherokees passed through the present-day park as part of the Northern Route. Diary records of the removal mentioned Port Royal, the last stop before leaving Tennessee, as an encampment site where the Cherokee stayed overnight or longer to re-supply, grind corn and rest.

Pulaski-Giles County Trail of Tears Park, Pulaski, TN
This park is located at the intersection of East College Street (U.S. Hwy 64 Bus.) and Stadium Street. The Trail of Tears Park, which is under development, is a memorial to the members of the Bell and Benge detachments, who passed through Pulaski and Giles County

Red Clay State Park, near Cleveland, TN
Red Clay is located at 140 Red Clay Park Road SW in Bradley County, along the Tennessee-Georgia state line. The last council grounds of the Cherokee following their eviction from New Echota, Georgia, this 260-acre park contains a visitor center, theater, library, amphitheater, picnic shelter, and hiking trails. Replicas of 19th-century Cherokee buildings include a council house, farmhouse, barn, corn crib, and three sleeping huts.

Rocky River Crossing, near Spencer, TN
This site sits on private property and not open to the public. It is located off TN Hwy 111 in Van Buren County.  Rocky River Crossing, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was a primary campsite used by all but two of the Northern Route detachments. The water of the Rocky River was vital to the crossing of the Cumberland Plateau. From this campsite, Chief Junaluska and 50 of his followers deserted the Trail of Tears. Junaluska and 25 of his people were captured near Knoxville and escorted by the U.S. Army to Indian Territory, with Junaluska in chains.  

Ross’s Landing, Chattanooga, TN
Located on Riverfront Parkway, in the immediate vicinity of the Tennessee Aquarium,   Ross’s Landing was the site of a store, warehouse and ferry owned by Principle Chief John Ross. During the Cherokee removal, a U.S. Army concentration camp, housing Cherokee rounded up from their homes, was located near Ross’s Landing. The first three detachments of Cherokee forcibly removed during the Trail of Tears departed for the West from Ross’s Landing. Riverfront redevelopment during the 21st century has obscured the topography and natural landing features of this important Trail of Tears site.

Sequoyah Birthplace Museum, Vonore, TN
The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum is located at 576 State Highway 360. Sequoyah (George Gist) was born circa 1776 at the village of Tuskegee, which was very near where the museum is today. Museum exhibits trace American Indian history in the region, beginning with the Paleo-Indian period. A video presentation, map, and pictorial display tell the Trail of Tears story. Artifacts related to the Trail of Tears, Cherokee history, and southeastern American Indian history are displayed.

Tennessee River Museum, Savannah, TN
This site is located at the corner of Main Street (U.S. 64) and Adams Street. The nearby Tennessee River was the primary “water route” for approximately 2,800 Cherokee during the summer of 1838 during their forced migration between Ross’s Landing in Chattanooga and the vicinity of Fort Coffee near present-day Sallisaw, Oklahoma. The museum contains exhibits about the Trail of Tears along with related historic and prehistoric themes.

The Hermitage, near Nashville, TN
The site is located 12 miles east of downtown Nashville at 4580 Rachel’s Lane in Hermitage, TN. Andrew Jackson, who served as president from 1829 to 1837, lived at the Hermitage from 1804 until his death in 1845. Jackson was the leading proponent of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which led to the forced removal of most of the Five Civilized Tribes from the southeastern United States to Indian Territory. Although the Cherokee “Trail of Tears” took place during the Martin Van Buren administration, their migration was the result of actions begun during Jackson’s presidency.

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