Our chapter members were Jim, me, Joe & Bertie Andrews. Marvin Caine from Columbia.
Thirty-one people from across Middle Tennessee, including TTA members from Nashville, Columbia and Murfreesboro, participated in a historic hike of Old Jefferson, TN. The newly formed Native History Association of Nashville sponsored this hike. The primary mission of the trek was to make people aware that as Central Valley Road/Old Jefferson Pike passed through the town of Jefferson, it was an alternate path of the Historic Trail of Tears of the Cherokee Nation. The hike was led by Association President Pat Cummins, who provided Trail of Tears information. A Local Jefferson historian provided knowledge about the town of Jefferson itself.
Parking at the East Fork Recreational Area of Percy Priest Lake off Central Valley Road, we gathered for a short informational meeting about the days trek. We then made our way over various paths, including portions of the Old Jefferson Pike from the Walter Hill area, to the intersection with Central Valley Road near the pumping station, the original path of the Cherokee; looking easterly, the long road path originating from the Lebanon Pike was visible. However, Old Jefferson Pike to the west quickly disappeared into the dense overgrowth of the wet area from the river swale and a long detour path around the wetlands was followed. Completing the 270-degree bypass, the road was quickly encountered once again. Following the old road westerly, first through thick woods, then through the once thriving town of Jefferson and then back along the narrow path through the forest, one could almost sense the remorse of the Cherokees upon leaving the good life they once had and proceeding into a world of unknowns. It was interesting to note the periodic sections of asphalt along what was once a thriving thoroughfare.
Reaching the point where the road turned northwesterly toward the river and the ford the Cherokees used to the other side, and later the site of a onetime bridge (the road path is now overgrown and not visible other than to the trained eye), the trek continued onward a short distance to the site on one time plantation. A short walk to the river’s edge revealed a stone wall and the location of the Old Jefferson Pike across the river’s West Fork.
On the return hike, a detour was made out to the river’s edge to view the confluence of the East and West Forks, and then the stream made its bend to the north and eventually to the Cumberland River. Upon reaching the end of the visible road path, some of the trekkers opted to follow the original Old Jefferson Road path through the overgrowth, across the previously mentioned swale where the road was plainly visible (could be submerged at high water levels), and thence back to the pumping station, and eventually the parking area.
Thus ended a most enjoyable and informative hiking venture. Since much of the Trail of Tears path exists today similar to what it was when the Cherokees traveled in in 1838, and probably is one of the few sections in such pristine condition, all efforts should be made to preserve it as it is and sign it accordingly for others to enjoy and appreciate the significance of the Trail of Tears. In addition, it would only be proper to record the history of Jefferson on appropriate wayside makers.
Submitted by Jim Schroeder.