The Cherokee town of Running Water located on Running Water Creek was established in the late 1770s. It was the home of Dragging Canoe, a war leader from 1775-1792. Dragging Canoe vehemently opposed encroachment on the Native Americans’ territory and brought a group of followers known as the Chickamaugas to this area. Together they became fierce defenders of their land and passage along the Tennessee River was difficult. In 1779, Col. Evan Shelby led an attack on the Chickamauga towns while Dragging Canoe was away in Georgia. Though they succeeded in burning the towns, the people of the area escaped.
Months later, a flotilla embarked upon the waters of the Tennessee, lead by Col. John Donelson. They were travelling from Kingsport going to settle in Nashville. Full of women, slaves and household furnishings, there were a total of 30 boats in this fleet. The Chickamaugas were still angry over the attack from Shelby, and when they saw the fleet arrive at the ‘Whirl’ or ‘Suck’ of the River, they began firing down on them from above. The last boat carried pioneers that were suffering from smallpox. Many of the Cherokee later succumbed as well. Rachel Donelson, a daughter of Col. Donelson and the future wife of President Andrew Jackson, was a passenger on board one of these flat boats. In 1788, a boat carrying Col. James Brown and his family was ambushed by the Chickamaugas. Young Joseph Brown was taken captive and held for nearly a year before being ransomed back. He later helped Major James Ore guide his men through the mountainous region of Running Water. Dragging Canoe was buried here on March 1, 1792.
In 1790, President George Washington had been informed of the rough waters of the Tennessee River Canyon, and also its inhabitants. “There is a place called the “Suck” or “boiling Pot” where the Tennessee River runs through the Cumberland Mountains that is somewhat difficult, occasioned by the narrowness of the water and suddenness of the turn, that causes a rebound and a kind of whirlpool, but many boats have passed it, and not doing damage to any of them.” Washington noted the Cherokees could be classed into three divisions, and “the Chickanoggas are perhaps the most dangerous.”
Home of Tecumseh 1789-1790
Major Ore Expedition 1794
Home of Sequoyah from 1819-1824
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NATIVE AMERICAN TRAIL
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CIVIL WAR TRAIL
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