Our Stories


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 host of volunteers who love to share our remarkable history, we are able to present educational family programs throughout the year. 

The Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia musters at the Shoals several months of the year.  They are responsible for many exceptional programs which include Old Christmas in January, the Carter Mansion Celebration in April, the Siege of Fort Watauga in May, their Independence Muster in late June, the Overmountain Victory Trail Celebration in September, the Harvest Celebration in November, and Christmas at the Carter Mansion in early December.

In addition, militia members standby and are ready to provide educational programs to the host of school groups that visit Sycamore Shoals each year. 

The Watauga Valley Fife and Drum Corps, a premier organization, represents us at events throughout our region and beyond.   Their talents in reproducing historic 18th century fife and drum military commands and music is unprecedented. 

Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area provides the primary support for Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals; Tennessee’s Official Outdoor Drama. Liberty” is performed the last three weekends of July, Thursday through Saturday, annually.  

Our Friends group is the heartbeat of so many special events.  They assist with volunteers, financial support, and are actively involved in helping Sycamore Shoals for a myriad of different needs. 

In addition, you might visit the park and find a group of folks diligently caring for our North American Butterfly Association gardens at Sycamore Shoals, or possibly tending the historic gardens at the Carter Mansion.  They are Master Gardeners who volunteer throughout the year; through their efforts, so much beauty has been added to the park.

And yes, there are more Friends of the park!  The Upper East Tennessee Celtic Society presents the annual Celtic Festival in September; Don Wiley visits us the 3rd Sunday of most months for Shape Note Singing;  Art Lang organizes and Old Time Music Jam the 4th Sunday of each month; the Liberty Spinners host an annual Spinning and Fiber Meet; and the Overmountain Weavers Guild presents the Fibers Show and Sale in March.   And this is but a sampling!

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, deemed the largest private real estate transaction on this continent, between the Cherokee and Judge Richard Henderson, took place on the grounds of Sycamore Shoals in 1775. By 1776, Fort Watauga was constructed to protect the settlement from Cherokee attack as they resisted the influx of settlers to their lands. 

Sycamore Shoals is also well known for the Muster of the Overmountain Men in 1780, 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.’ 

Within the pages of “Our Stories,” we will be posting more in-depth retellings of the history of Sycamore Shoals, along with many snippets of events that make the “shoals” a nationally significant and intriguing site, nestled near the Appalachian Mountains in northeast Tennessee.

We hope you will check back often and visit us in Elizabethton, Tennessee.

4 Responses to Our Stories

  1. Debie tester says:

    I would love to take my children!

    • Check out the above menu under Monthly Interp. Programs! History at Home, our summer ranger programs, offers the opportunity to become an official Tennessee State Park Junior Naturalist! Hope you can visit with us.

  2. Arthur Roberts says:

    My father lived the last years of his life in Elizabethton and one of the things I inherited is a cast bronze eagle that family tradition says was carried on a flagstaff at Sycamore Shoals.

    If interested please contact me

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