Anywhere you step in Charleston and Calhoun, you are in the footsteps of the Cherokee, the footsteps of history. The Cherokee Nation covered the entire area with the Hiwassee Treaty of 1819 bringing the United States of America to the Hiwassee River encompassing Calhoun. With Fort Cass a 30-40 square mile area of encampments, anywhere you step in present-day Charleston would be considered part of the Trail of Tears. Removal routes lead into Fort Cass and out of Fort Cass, but the largest emigration depot of the Cherokee Removal is everywhere around you in present-day Charleston.
To recognize this historical reality, part of the master plan to interpret the area’s history is to develop an interpretive greenway leading from the Hiwassee River Heritage Center to a river park to be located on the river banks in Calhoun. The first section of the National Trail of Tears Tribute is complete, connecting the heritage center with Charleston’s Hoyt Berry Public Park. The trail, along with the heritage center, are designated by the National Park Service as certified sites on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.
National Historic Trail of Tears Tribute
8746 Hiwassee Street (Hwy 11), Charleston
This first segment of the trail connects the Hiwassee River Heritage Center to the Charleston Park. The trail concept was designed by the National Park Service and is intended to be completed in phases and eventually connect the Hiwassee River Heritage Center to the Hiwassee River. This segment of the trail is called “Voices from the Past” and features significant quotes about the Cherokee Removal at Fort Cass from Cherokee people and missionaries on the east side of the trail and U.S. military and political figures on the west side. The trail sets the stage for learning more about the Trail of Tears and bringing the struggle of that time to a personal level. Presenting quotes from the people affected by this difficult time in history brings this story to life and to a relatable place for all of us as human beings. Trailhead is located behind the Hiwassee River Heritage Center with additional and bus parking at Charleston Park.