Category Archives: Interpretive Programs

Carter Mansion, Arboretum, and Fort Watauga Tours – This Saturday! April 13th


Sixth Annual Interpretive Day

with ETSU- Park and Recreation Students

at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park

Interpretive Programs     13 April 2019             1:00pm – 5:45pm


On April 13th from Noon until approximately 5:30 pm, ETSU Park and Recreation Students enrolled in SALM 3110 Interpretation of Cultural and Natural Resources Class will be conducting interpretive programs on Sycamore Shoals. The public is cordially invited to participate with them as they share with the community the special features that make Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park a premier natural and historical resource in the Upper East Tennessee region.

The first student led interpretive program will begin at 12:00 pm at the Carter Mansion and will cover the historical importance of John Carter in the region as a merchant and early political leader. Students will also lead a tour of the grounds surrounding the Carter Mansion. This program will conclude at approximately 1:30 pm

The second student led interpretive program will begin at 2:00 at the Sycamore Shoals Visitor Center and will include a brief walk around the property ending with an overview of the Fort and its significance as the birthplace of early Democracy in America. Particular attention will be placed on the historical importance of Sycamore Shoals as it relates to early American History and the program will focus on some of the key historical figures of the region.

The third and final student led interpretive program will begin at 4:00 in front of the Sycamore Shoals Visitor Center and will include an overview of the Sycamore Shoals Arboretum focusing on specific key trees in the arboretum. The interactive nature of this program will include walking through the arboretum with stops at various species of trees that are indicative of the region. This program will conclude the day’s event at 5:30 pm.

The students are conducting the interpretive programs a part of a class project designed to provide hands-on learning opportunities for students in the class while cultivating a lasting community stewardship for Sycamore Shoals. We encourage you to join these upcoming professionals in the field of Parks and Recreation for an enjoyable afternoon at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park.


“Through interpretation, understanding; through understanding, appreciation; through appreciation, protection.” – Freeman Tilden






On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun. The NASA website states, “Anyone within the path of totality can see one of nature’s most awe inspiring sights – a total solar eclipse. This path, where the moon will completely cover the sun will stretch from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun’s disk”. It is the first time in many years that a total solar will be visible exclusively from the United States, and for this reason it is being called the ‘Great American Eclipse’. This much anticipated eclipse is likely to be the most watched, most photographed and most televised astronomical event of a generation.

Although Northeast Tennessee will not be in the path of totality, our area will experience an eclipse in which 96% of the sun will be covered by the passing moon. To mark this unique celestial experience, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park is hosting a special event on the day of the eclipse. On Monday, August 21st from 12:00 noon until 4:00 pm the park will be offering special programs and activities for visitors wishing to catch a glimpse of this once in a lifetime event. Activities will include interpretive programs and talks, coloring sheets for children, making paper solar projectors, and more. Special Tennessee State Park commemorative solar viewing glasses will be given to the first 125 participants.

At Sycamore Shoals the eclipse will begin at 1:08 pm. The maximum coverage point, where 96% of the sun will be obscured by the moon, will occur at 2:37 pm, and the eclipse will end at 4:00 pm. The event is free of charge and is a great opportunity for your family to come to one of Tennessee’s most historic places to witness this most historic event.

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park is located at 1651 West Elk Ave. in Elizabethton, TN. For additional information on this special park event please visit or You may also call the park at 423-543-5808. For more on the eclipse in general, and for tips on how to safely view an eclipse, please visit

Dr Jay Franklin & Cayla Cannon to Speak at Sycamore Shoals


Saturday, March 25   at   7:00 pm in the Visitors Center at Sycamore Shoals


Collapse, Coalescence, and Spanish Incursions into

16th Century Native Upper East Tennessee –

Presented by Dr. Jay Franklin, Professor of Archaeology, Dept. of Sociology & Anthropology, East Tennessee State University


In Search of the People Who Lived Here Before: from Historic to Prehistoric Significance at the Carter Mansion Site –

Presented by Cayla Cannon, Graduate Student, Dept. of Geosciences,                                         East Tennessee State University


A 1958 TVA report held that the upper reaches of the Tennessee Valley along the Holston, Watauga and Nolichucky rivers were not suitable for permanent Native American villages. However, archaeological research conducted by East Tennessee State University from 2006 to the present indicates that our region contained dozens of large, vibrant Native American towns from at least AD 1350 to 1650. Jay will discuss his recent work at several of these sites. His research suggests that the upper reaches of the Tennessee Valley were not marginal hinterlands but rather newly discovered and well-connected cultural centers. It appears that at least some of these communities came into direct contact with early Spanish explorers.

Cayla will present her findings from her work at the Carter Mansion. Based on surface artifacts and decades-old excavations, we know the site also holds a prehistoric component, which may be vital for understanding Native American settlement and coalescence within the region. Our research in the broader region suggests that there may be a significant piece of Cherokee history here. The use of geophysics and targeted test excavations yielded many intriguing results at the Carter Mansion which Cayla will share during her presentation.

Please join us this evening for this unique opportunity to get a first- hand look at the most current research on these topics!   This lecture is free and open to the public.