Cleveland and Bradley County were added to the trail system Thursday during an unveiling of signs to be placed along the touring route.
Commissioner Susan Whitaker of the Tourist Development office was among a number of state and local officials present at the Bradley County kickoff, held at the Museum Center at Five Points.
Melissa Woody, vice president of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, introduced Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and County Mayor D. Gary Davis, as well as other speakers who explained the benefit and importance of being selected as part of the Tanasi Trail system.
Whitaker said the Tanasi Trail courses throughout the state and short trips mean visitors can stay longer visiting different segments of the trail.
“We flew in and the area was beautiful,” said Whitaker citing the Cherokee National Forest as one of the most beautiful and popular parks in the National Forest system.
Dr. Carroll Van West, director of the Center for Historical Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University, said the area was key to trade in historic times, and is once again becoming an “International Region” involving trade, noting that Volkswagen and Wacker are international companies which have recently moved production to the area.
“Copperhill was one of the first with copper mining and international regional trade. History is rich in this region. It is historically and nationally significant,” West said.
Whitaker said the Tanasi Trail is a great trail and those who have worked to establish it have done a great job.
“The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development has been developing 16 driving trails in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Several of these trails have been launched such as the ‘Sunnyside’ in Northeast Tennessee, ‘The Jack’ that goes through Lynchburg and ‘Top Secret,’ which includes Oak Ridge,” Woody said.
“Each trail comes out of a large Tennessee destination like Nashville, Knoxville or Chattanooga. We are on the ‘Tanasi Trail,’ named for the Cherokee word that eventually became our state name. It is a driving trail through six counties — Hamilton, Bradley, Polk, McMinn, Monroe and Meigs. The brochure will include interesting places to see and experience, hometown dining, stories of the area and unique lodging,” Woody explained.
“It’s the ‘back-road’ experience,” she added.
Here are some interesting points for day trippers and longer-term travelers along the Tanasi Trail:
- The Hiwassee Railroad Loop, built in 1898, is the third-longest railroad loop in the world.
- The Conasauga River is home to more than 39 species of fish, more than the entire Columbia River system.
- The Cherohala Skyway climbs to over one mile in elevation.
- The Ocoee Scenic Byway is the nation’s first Forest Service Scenic Byway.
- Niota native son Harry T. Burn cast the deciding vote to ratify the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote.
- The Niota Depot is the oldest standing railroad depot in Tennessee.
- Fort Loudon was the first British structure built in Tennessee.
- The Unicoi Trail, a National Millennium Flagship Trail, was used for trade and warfare for over 1,000 years. The hiking section near Coker Creek is one of the oldest intact roadbeds in North America.
- The Old Copper Road was carved into the Ocoee Gorge in the mid-1800s to haul wagons of copper ore from the Ducktown mines to the railroad at Cleveland.
- Sequoyah, creator of the Cherokee syllabary, was born in Tuskegee, near present-day Vonore.
- Mayfield Dairy, distributor of dairy products all over the Southeast, began in Athens with a herd of 49 Jersey cows.
n Englewood grew out of three textile mill villages – Yellow Top, Socktown, and Onion Hill.
- Delano was named for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in gratitude for his support for a post office there.
n Part of the trail runs through Polk County, home of the Annual Ramp Tramp, National MooFest, and the National Muscadine Festival
- Sweetwater Valley Farm produces scores of varieties of cheese and the only cheddar cheese made in Tennessee.
- Copperhill is the destination and layover point for two passenger train excursions – the Hiwassee River Rail Adventure and the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.
- The L&N Depot, built in 1906, was the first structure built in the railroad town of Etowah.
- Oconastota is buried at the Chota Memorial on the banks of Tellico Lake.
- The Ocoee Whitewater Center was built to host the 1996 Olympic Whitewater Slalom Races.
- The Hiwassee River is the state’s first State Scenic River.
- Gold was discovered at Coker Creek in the mid-1820’s, well before the California Gold Rush in 1849.
- The Ocoee Dams and Flume Line were built in 1912, predating TVA.
- The Monroe County Courthouse, in Madisonville, is one of the oldest courthouses in Southeast Tennessee.
Additional information can be found at www.clevelandchamber.com.