Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area



Tennessee State Parks


Asset names (3)


Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area


The Carter Mansion


Sabine Hill



Address, phone etc.


1651 W. Elk Avenue


Elizabethton, TN 37643





Organization website



Organization type


Historic Sites


Contact name


Jennifer Bauer


Contact email




Sycamore Shoals of the Watauga is a Tennessee State Park established in 1976.  Important historical events include



-       The first free and independent community on our continent, the Watauga Association.   This gathering of community leaders, in 1772, provided for the first democratic style government on our continent four years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence



-       The Transylvania and Watauga Purchases in 1775.  Considered the largest private real estate transaction in American history. Judge Richard Henderson organized this purchase with the Cherokee in March of 1775.  Though the elders were in agreement hoping for peace, the younger warriors, particularly Dragging Canoe, who presented an impassioned talk at the purchase, later banded together to attack settlements beginning in 1776.



-       Attack of Fort Watauga – The July, 1776 attacks by Old Abram came about as bands of Cherokee came together to attempt to remove the white man from their lands.  A replica of the original fort, build from archaeological evidence, stands behind the Visitors Center at Sycamore Shoals



-       The Muster of the Overmountain Men to Kings Mountain during the American Revolution.  On September 25, 1780, over 1,000 militia came to the grounds of Sycamore Shoals to muster and subsequently head out in search of British General Patrick Ferguson.  Ferguson had sent a threat over the mountains.  If they did not cease their opposition to the crown, he planned to cross the mountains and “lay waste to their country with fire and sword.”   The Overmountain Men found Ferguson at Kings Mountain on October 7 and defeated him in just over one hour. Many historians believe their efforts ‘turned the tide of the American Revolution.’



The John and Landon Carter Mansion – located 3 miles from Sycamore Shoals on the Broad Street Extension.


-       The Carter home was believed to have been completed by 1780, deeming it the oldest standing frame house in the state of Tennessee. Over 90% of the interior of the home is original, boasting elaborate architectural details not common to other living quarters on the frontier.


-       The Carter family were instrumental in politics and business in this fledgling community



Sabine Hill – located 3 miles from Sycamore Shoals at the western entrance to Elizabethton.  This site is not yet open to the public and is in the early stages of renovation


-       This is the home of Brigadier General Nathaniel Taylor; it’s construction was completed after his death by 1815, by his wife Mary Patton Taylor.




The interpretive staff of Sycamore Shoals offers on and off site programming which shares our nationally significant history with families, school groups, civic organizations, and the like.


Throughout the year, we present a wide range of interpretive programs and special events which include, but are not limited to:


-       Liberty! – Tennessee’s Official Outdoor Drama – July



-       Native American Festival -  June



-       Siege of Fort Watauga – May



-       Musters & Living history with the Washington Co. Regiment – most months



-       Carter Mansion Celebration – April



-       Traditional Arts Workshops – throughout the year



-       Overmountain Victory Trail Celebration – September



-       Christmas at the Carter Mansion – December



-       Harvest Celebration – November



-       Old Time Music Jams – Monthly



-       Shape Note Singing – Monthly



-       Watauga Valley Fife and Drum Corps – Open to new members




The Sycamore Shoals Museum and Patriots Theater – our newly renovated Interpretive museum is scheduled to be open by late winter, 2013. 


Programming also includes natural history, with an emphasis on the importance of early settlers understanding and knowing their environment.




Does it address STEM standards?






All ages – Family Audiences, Schools, Adult groups


STEM area


History and Natural History


STEM goals


Appreciation and knowledge of our heritage, the importance of patriotism and the sacrifices of our 18th century settlers in this region, and the associated relationships to the formation of America.  In addition, we stress the importance of understanding our environment in order to survive during the 18th century.


County(ies) served


Our reach is worldwide. 


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