30 September 2011

Old Stone Fort, Tennessee

Scenery and local residents of the Old Stone Fort, TN
Built two thousand years ago by Middle Woodland era peoples, the so-called Old Stone Fort is a series of embankments near the forks of the Duck and Little Duck Rivers. The rivers and embankments encompass 52 acres. No evidence of military or defensive action exist; the "Fort" designation was provided by early European-American settlers (Potter 252).

I made the classic move; I skimmed the signage, then hit the trail, wondering, "Where's the stone fort?" After circling through the woods, and running into the same pack of deer over and over, I finally circled back and realized that the low mounds at the entrance of the park were the "stone fort." Originally, three sections of wall made of rocks and earth encircled the area. They were once 4-6 feet tall (Faulkner); however, time has worn down the walls and soil has completely covered the rocks. The entrance way is marked by two taller "pedestal mounds" (Faulkner). This site, occupied for thirteen generations, beginning in the Hopewell Era, is believed to be a ceremonial site (Potter 252), and five Hopewell settlements were were located nearby. No burials have been found on the site, so the "Fort" is thought to be an ancient astronomical observatory (Faulkner).

Remnants of earth-covered walls at the fort's southern entrance
The two rivers have dramatic falls and are lined with stone. Remnants of 19th century grist mills can be seen. The flowered meadows, the parklike forests, and the rushing rivers are gorgeous. I want to live here. If there's any land that resembles this area available in Oklahoma, let me know!

The museum, when it finally opened, was mainly filled with maps and lithic tools. The park hosts annual flint knapping gatherings. The park also has camping, picnicking, playgrounds, hiking trails, and bathrooms, which house exciting and interactive living spider exhibits.

  • Faulkner, Charles F. "Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park." The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture 2.0. 23 Feb 2011.
  • Potter, Susanna Henighan. Moon Handbooks: Tennessee. Berkeley, CA: Avalon Travel Publishing, 2009.


Vera Marie said...

I hope this is not showing up twice. I grew up I Ohio visiting mounds and am enjoying your mound road trip. Loved the "interactive spiders".

ahalenia said...

We didn't! (love the interactive spiders, that is). I drove very close to the Great Serpent Mound in Ohio, but didn't check it out and have been kicking myself ever since.