Tellico Reservoir

Fort Loudoun State Historic Area

Constructed in 1756, Fort Loudoun was built to protect frontier Cherokee and British settlers from French attack after the outbreak of the French and Indian War. Located only a few miles downstream from the Cherokee capitol of Chota, the fort also served as a trading post and diplomatic center for the region. Unfortunately for the garrison of the fort, its history would be short and violent. Despite British aims to retain a peaceful alliance with the nearby Cherokee, atrocities committed against warriors fighting for the British in Virginia by settlers there prompted retaliation by the tribe against the troops at the fort. In 1760, a war party laid siege to the fort capturing it on August 7th. The British soldiers were allowed to leave but were ambushed and many were killed as they made their way back to South Carolina. The fort was never reoccupied and soon after was burned to the ground by the Cherokee. Thus ended the four year history of Fort Loudoun. Fifty years later, in 1794, the newly established United States government constructed a large blockhouse, known as the Tellico Blockhouse, to help limit white encroachment on Cherokee lands. Adjacent to the blockhouse was also a small factory which produced goods and 'helped' native locals learn about agriculture and industry. The blockhouse operated until about 1811.

For well over a hundred years the sites of the fort and blockhouse were all but forgotten until state and federal federal funding during the Great Depression allowed for the reconstruction of the fort. That should have been the end of the story, but once again the fort's future would be troubled. In the 1970's the Tennessee Valley Authority decided to build a dam on the Tellico River the results of which would create a lake which would threaten the reconstructed fort. Though environmentalists and preservationists put up a good fight the lake began to fill in 1979. To rescue the fort from a second demise the structures were disassembled, 17-feet of fill dirt was hauled in to raise the terrain, and the buildings were reconstructed atop it. Thus, to this day, the fort fronts a uniquely scenic but historically inaccurate lakeside setting...

Fort Loudoun State Park is located less than an hour southeast of Knoxville. In addition to the fort a nice visitor center introduces you to the history of the area and picnic areas allow for lake-view lunches. In addition, as I decided to do this day, you can take the circuitous 4-mile drive over to the Tellico Blockhouse. The blockhouse was excavated in the 1970's and you can now walk amongst the reconstructed foundations. I was impressed with the care that had been taken in the preservation of the fort and, as there are precious few historic sites of this quality that date back to the period, supremely glad that I 'discovered' it.