The Overmountain Institute


March 8 – 10, 2019

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park


Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park will be unveiling a new program this March entitled The Overmountain Institute. This new approach to sharing the regions rich cultural heritage will give participants the chance to get a closer more in-depth look at life on the 18th century frontier with a focus on the area known as the Watauga Settlement in the late 1700s.

Sycamore Shoals will be partnering will several skilled heritage interpreters, living historians and expert craftsmen who will bring life in the 18th century Watauga settlement to new light through a series of demonstrations, workshops, seminars, and hands on activities. Gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the lives, hardships and accomplishments of the early settlers and native Cherokee who called this area home over two centuries ago.

The weekend activities kick off on Friday, March 8th with an evening presentation entitled “The Campaign to Kings Mountain” presented by Steve Ricker, Interpretive Program Director for the Overmountain Victory Trail Association. Steve’s authentic appearance and unique delivery transports listeners back in time as he gives a first person account of the journey of the famed Overmountain men and their decisive victory at the battle of Kings Mountain. Many historians have called this particular battle the turning point of America’s war for independence. A reception and light refreshments will follow the presentation.

Saturday, March 9th will be filled with six, one-hour presentations on unique aspects of life in this area over two centuries ago. Sycamore Shoals is proud to host these skilled heritage interpreters who present life on the 18th century frontier in such a way that participants cannot help but feel as if they have actually touched the past. Saturday’s presentations include the following;

“Nancy Ward – Beloved Woman of the Cherokee” presented by Jackie Fisher who serves as the Park Manager for David Crockett Birthplace State Park in Limestone, TN. Jackie will share about the life of Nancy Ward who played such a pivotal role in the relationships between the Cherokee and early settlers, as well as share about the role of women in 18th century Cherokee society.


“Medicinal Plants & Herbs” presented by Elizabeth and Michael Hardy. Elizabeth is and educator and Michael is an author and historian from Crossnore, NC. The husband and wife team will share about the knowledge that the early settlers and natives possessed of the healing properties of native plants and herbs.



“Attakullakulla – Cherokee Peace Chief” presented by Robert K. Rambo. Attakullakulla, also known as the Little Carpenter, played such a pivotal role in Anglo-Cherokee negotiations. Attention is payed to every detail in Robert Rambo’s portrayal of this key figure in the early history of the Watauga Settlement. Robert joins us from Cullowhee, NC.


“A Frontier of Color” presented by Carol Jarboe. Carol’s first person presentations are some of the best in the living history community. She can be found sharing a myriad of topics from indentured servants and laundry techniques to resurrectionists and 19th century British aristocracy. This weekend Carol will be instructing on natural dyeing with plants available to this specific area.



“Faith on the Frontier” presented by Rev. John Frank Jarboe. Frank can usually be found portraying “Parson John” an itinerate minister delivering the Sunday sermon at various weekend living history events. He will be sharing the importance of faith to the frontier people and the impact it had in the early settlement days. Frank and Carol Jarboe join us from Woodburn, KY.


“18th Century Blacksmithing” presented by Will Vogt. Perhaps no one was more important to a frontier settlement than the local blacksmith. Settlers depended on the smith to repair wagon parts and farm implements, fashion hardware, shoe horses, and many other tasks. We are pleased to have Will Vogt join us to share his talents and talk about this essential member of the community. Will is from Limestone, TN and is the manager of Graysburg Forge.


Sunday, March 10th may be the last day of the institute, but it will not be short of activities. The day will begin at 11:00 am with a frontier worship service held in the confines of Fort Watauga and will be presented by Rev. John Frank Jarboe. The rest of the day will be dedicated to ongoing demonstrations, displays, talks, and presentations of daily aspects of colonial frontier life. Programs include, but are not limited to, 18th century music with a special presentation by the Watauga Valley Fife and Drum Corps, black powder manufacturing, candle making, 18th century beverages, firearms and weaponry, butter making, lard rendering, natural dyeing, and much more.

The Overmountain Institute is limited to 100 participants. The fee to attend is $50.00 per individual and covers all three days of activities. To register please visit You do not want to miss this opportunity to meet and learn from some of the most gifted living history educators in the community. Come see how you can make history at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park.

The Overmountain Institute is sponsored by the Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park and the Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia.


Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park

1651 West Elk Avenue, Elizabethton, TN 37643





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Overmountain Christmas Open House


Saturday, December 15 from 10 am – 3 pm


Please join us at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park for a festive time of Period Carolers, Christmas Stories, the Watauga Valley Art League’s Annual Winterfest Art Show and more.       There will be a special activity/project the whole family can participate in making and Santa will also be making an appearance!

Come do some of your Christmas shopping at our new Gift Shop or with the Vendors that will be set up for the day! Don’t miss out on getting some unique items you can’t find anywhere else! We look forward to seeing you!



9:00—Park Visitor’s Center Opens

10:00—Open House Begins

10:00—10:30—A Christmas Story

10:30—11:00—Period Carolers

11:00—11:30—Children’s Story Time


12:30—1:00—Period Carolers


2:00—2:30—Pine Cone Activity

3:00—Open House Closes


Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park

1651 West Elk Avenue

Elizabethton, TN 37643

(423) 543-5808                       


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Christmas at the Carter Mansion

Friday, November 30th and Saturday, December 1  6 – 9 pm

The Historic John and Landon Carter Mansion

1031 Broad Street       Elizabethton, Tennessee

Tours by Registration only – A new tour starts every 20 minutes beginning at 6 pm; last tour at 8:40 pm



Adults – $7.00

Ages 7 to 17 – $3.00

Ages 6 and under – Free

Online Registration at:


Set aside the hustle and bustle that always accompanies this time of year, and step back in time to the 18th century and enjoy a colonial Christmas at the beautiful Carter Mansion. Join Colonel John Carter, the Carter family, and all their friends for a glimpse into simpler time, when Christmas was the grandest celebration of the entire year. In colonial America the Christmas season was celebrated as a month long array of merriment and festivities signaled by caroling, feasting, dances, foxhunts, and the firing of Christmas guns. Christmas on the colonial frontier would have been much different though, with only the simplest of pleasures being offered by the humble backwoods settlers. However, in contrast, the Carters would have displayed an opulence only seen in the finest homes of Williamsburg or Philadelphia.

Spend a candlelit evening in the oldest frame house in Tennessee, decorated with bright greenery for the holidays. Enjoy music, hot cider, and 18th century interpreters as they transport you to a Colonial American Christmas. We look forward to your visit for this one-of-a-kind holiday gathering!

For more information please contact:

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park

1651 W. Elk Avenue

Elizabethton, TN 37643







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