Sycamore Shoals to host 250th Watauga Association Anniversary event

Published 9:16 pm Friday, March 25, 2022

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Members of the Elizabethton community will have a chance to celebrate their heritage as Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park will host a 250-year commemoration of the Watauga Association, a semi-autonomous government founded in Elizabethton four years before the birth of the United States.

“In 1763 a royal proclamation had forbidden settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains. As British rule became increasingly oppressive in the colonies, people began to move west across the Blue Ridge,” Sycamore Shoals Park Manager Jennifer Bauer said Wednesday in a press release. “Being outside the authority of the 13 colonies, the settlers in the Watauga River valley saw the need for law and order and joined together to create a compact to govern and direct for the common good of the people.

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“In the spring of 1772, meeting under a large sycamore tree by the Doe River in what is now Elizabethton, Tenn., settlement leaders drafted articles of governance for the Watauga Association. They negotiated a land lease and later a purchase, with the Cherokee, formed a court and a militia, and organized the defense of the settlement in 1776,” Bauer said.

The celebration will take place at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park on April 9 with festivities beginning at 10 a.m. inside of the Fort Watauga Amphitheater. Things will kick off with a special ceremony that will include a wreath laying, a proclamation by the Carter County Commission, and a presentation of the Watauga Association scene from Tennessee’s official outdoor drama, “Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals.”

However, after the 10 a.m. program, attendees will have the chance to visit many displays inside of Fort Watauga that will showcase 18th century life including weaponry, uniforms and clothing of the period, soldier’s equipment, quill pen writing, colonial era music, women’s roles on the frontier, flintlock musket and rifle demonstrations, militia drill, and much more. Festivities will conclude at 4 p.m.

Commemorative tours of the historic Carter Mansion will also be offered to those in attendance, taking place at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. Sycamore Shoals says that the tours are free of charge, but those interested must register at

The John and Landon Carter Mansion is located at 1031 Broad Street in Elizabethton, while Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park is located at 1651 West Elk Avenue in Elizabethton. For more information, visit, visit Sycamore Shoals Facebook page here, or call the park at 423-543-5808.