Sycamore Shoals is steeped in monumental acts of American history where European immigrants built homes in a wilderness outside of the 13 English colonies. Here, men created America's first democratic government in 1772, the Watauga Association. The Transylvania Purchase, the largest private real estate transaction in American history took place between the settlers and Cherokee in 1775 at Sycamore Shoals. The next year, Cherokee warriors attacked the settlement whose families took refuge in Fort Watauga. In late 1780, the Overmountain Men, over 1,000 strong, gathered in the historic Muster of the patriots on the grounds of Sycamore Shoals. Their quickly won battle at Kings Mountain has been considered the pivotal event which "turned the tide of the American Revolution."
Visitors here walk into a a time of danger and intrigue. Meet great characters from Tennessee's early years: vivacious Bonnie Kate Sherrill, who jumped over the wall of Fort Watauga to escape Cherokee attack, into the arms of John Sevier. Learn the skills that Cherokees and pioneers used to survive in the wilderness of colonial Tennessee. See Tennessee's Official Outdoor Drama, "Liberty: The Saga of Sycamore Shoals ."
Nature, as well as history, is in full view at Sycamore Shoals. A prime example of an East Tennessee river valley, the park sits beside the Watauga River. Bottomland forest is an excellent habitat for sycamore trees, annuals, many bird species, two butterfly gardens, and colonial gardens.
Fishing is allowed at Sycamore Shoals State Park.
There is a two mile walking/fitness trail that follows the Watauga River. The trail also accesses Sycamore Shoals Hospital which is adjacent to the park
The park has one picnic area outside the Visitor Center that has 16 moveable picnic tables. Grills, water and electrical outlets are available.
Visit us in the Gift Shop.
Tour buses are welcome.
Dec 1 - Jan 4, 2014
The Watauga Valley Art League's December exhibit offers great opportunities for holiday shopping! To add a warm seasonal flair to the month long event, the Visitors Center is decorated with lamp posts adorned with handmade wreaths created by community organizations.
Join the Fife & Drum Corps, which performs at historical events, dedications and parades. This group is open to anyone ages 13 and older. Musical experience is welcome but not necessary; just come with a willingness to learn. Meet our volunteer coordinator John Large at the Sycamore Shoals Visitors Center. Lessons are free of charge, just call and let us know you’re coming! For more information call 423-543-5808.
Jan 4 - Jan 5, 2014
Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park features a Fort Watauga replica, near the famous Sycamore Shoals of the Watauga River, where the Watauga Compact was drawn up creating the first independent government of European origin in the New World.
The settlers, who knew that they were beyond the bounds of English colonial control, also negotiated large land acquisitions with American Indians on this property. Later, during the American Revolution, the settlers, referred to as “Overmountain Men,” gathered here to join the march to Kings Mountain in South Carolina and a great Revolutionary War victory in the South.
The park also includes the Carter Mansion, home of John, Landon and Elizabeth Carter and the oldest frame house in Tennessee. Landon Carter served under John Sevier in the Revolutionary War, signed the Watauga Petition and served as Speaker of the Senate for the short-lived State of Franklin (now Tennessee).
Observe militia musters, see a reenactment of the Seige of Fort Watauga and learn about Native American art, music, legends and skills. Come to a Celtic Festival or participate in a butterfly count or native plant walk. Learn about traditional art forms and music, play with a fife and drum corps or play the games that colonial children played. Examine a flintlock rifle or see what 18th-century healers used to cure the ills of pioneers. Sycamore Shoals is the place to go for hands-on fun from colonial times.
The Visitors’ Center and museum is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Picnicking is available with tables and grills provided. A two-mile fitness trail constructed jointly between the park and adjacent hospital is also available.
1651 W. Elk Ave.
Elizabethton, TN 37643
Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area is located in Carter County on U.S. Highway 321/TN 67, in Elizabethton, TN. Situated on the Watauga River, the 88 acre site is 30 miles from Interstate 81. From Exit 57 on I-81, take I-26 into Johnson City to Exit 24. Then take Highway 321/67, traveling approximately 6 miles into Elizabethton. Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area is on the left.
Park open daily dawn to dusk Visitors Center open Tuesday-Saturday 9 am - 4 pm and Sunday from 1 - 4:30 pm