Last week Tim was at the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park in Birchwood. The map in the park’s amphitheater plaza shows the Trail of Tears, the routes that Cherokees took when they were forced to move from their homelands to what was designated Indian Territory in Oklahoma. The park is located at the site of Blythe Ferry, where most of the Cherokee departed their homeland. Blythe Ferry is at the confluence of the Hiawassee River and the Tennessee River. The park is actually just north of Hamilton County in Rhea County, Tennessee.
At the time of the Cherokee removal, the southeast was in severe drought, making ferry crossings difficult due to low water levels. Some boats had to wait up to six weeks to cross the Tennessee River.
William Blythe, a Cherokee, established Blythe Ferry in 1809. He sold the ferry in 1835 and headed west with his wife before the forced removal. A ferry operated at the site until 1994 when the Highway 60 Bridge was built.