We often refer to Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park 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. Check them out at friendsofsycamoreshoals.org and consider becoming a member!
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 Sabine Hill Social Society organizes historic dance gatherings and other early 19th century events; Art Lang organizes an Old Time Music Jam the 4th Sunday of each month; the Watauga Valley Art League hosts art shows throughout the year; and the Overmountain Weavers Guild presents the Fibers Show and Sale in March, in addition to a Fall show in November. 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.’
Would you like to learn more? We invite you to visit us and tour our award winning museum, shop in our book and gift shop, and participate in our many family oriented educational programs. Plan to spend the day, walk our trails, explore the grounds, and rent a picnic shelter for a relaxing afternoon at Sycamore Shoals of the Watauga. Here, you can follow the path and walk in the steps of your ancestors.
You may also visit us at www.facebook.com/sycamoreshoals for online programs, tours,and updated event and park information.
Tours of the Carter Mansion (1775-1780) and Sabine Hill (1818), are offered year round. Check out our History at Home Interpretive Ranger Programs for summer tours or our Monthly Calendars for opportunities throughout the year to see these magnificent historic house museums.
For additional park information, please contact us at 423-543-5808. The Visitors Center is open Monday – Saturday from 9 am – 4 pm, closing from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm for cleaning and staff lunches. Sunday from 1 pm – 4:30 pm.
Park grounds are open from sunrise to sunset.
We look forward to seeing you soon!