logo



The Gathering of Overmountain Men to be celebrated this weekend at Sycamore Shoals

John Thompson • Updated Sep 17, 2019 at 4:41 PM

ELIZABETHTON — This weekend marks one of the biggest annual events at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, the Gathering of the Overmountain Men.

It is not only a major event for those who enjoy local history, but is always a high point for those who are following the itinerary of the original Overmountain Men and traveling down the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail from Abingdon, Virginia, to Kings Mountain, South Carolina.

The Gathering has been reenacted every year since the bicentennial, complete with a two-day celebration on the weekend before the Sept. 25 anniversary of the Gathering. Not part of the weekend events, but an iconic marking of the Sept. 26 Gathering is the crossing of the Watauga River by reenactors to mark the crossing made by the Virginia part of the Overmountain Men.

One of the newer events will take place on Friday, Sept. 20, called Lanterns and Legends of 1780. This is a unique, after hours program designed to allow visitors to experience the sights, sounds, and emotions of the 18th century. The visitors will be guided through the historic encampment of the Overmountain Men by lantern light. The visitors will meet Col. John Sevier, Mary Patton, the Rev. Samuel Doak, and others as they tell the story of the Gathering. The program begins in the park visitor center and each tour lasts approximately an hour.

Tour times are: 7 p.m.; 7:15 p.m.; 7:30 p.m.; 7:45 p.m.; 8 p.m.; 8:15 p.m.: and 8:30 p.m. Pre-registration is required. Reservations can be made online by going to www.tnstateparks.com/parks/events/sycamore-shoals. Fees for the lantern tours are: $7 for adults, $5 for students and children 6 and under are admitted free.

The Lanterns and Legends program kicks off a full weekend of Overmountain celebration on Saturday, Sept. 21, and Sunday, Sept. 22, as the Washington County Militia living history organization presents 18th century demonstrations and activities in and around Fort Watauga. Re-enactors in period will be on hand throughout the weekend to share stories and demonstrations, including the story of the Gathering of the Overmountain Men at Sycamore Shoals.

Those coming to the reenactments are also invited to visit the park’s award-winning museum and interpretive center and the interpretive film “Sycamore Shoals — Story of the American Spirit.” Admission is free.

The final Gathering event will take place at approximately 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, when reenactors of the Virginia militiamen will cross the Watauga River from north to south. Those re-enactors crossing the river will not only be local re-enactors marching along the entire national trail from Virginia to South Carolina.

The schedule of events for the Gathering:

Friday, Sept. 20: Lanterns and Legends of 1780; tours start at the visitors center at 7 p.m.; 7:15 p.m.; 7:30 p.m.: 7:45 p.m.: 8 p.m.; 8:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Cost $7 for adults, $5 for students, children 6 and under free.

Preregister online at www.tnstateparks.com/parks/events/sycamore-shoals.

Saturday, Sept. 21

10 a.m.: “Raising the colors” — Join the Overmountain Men inside Fort Watauga as they assemble for morning instructions, militia inspection and posting the flag. (Fort Watauga).

11 a.m.: “Every seventh man” — Oral tradition states the Overmountain Men left behind one in seven to guard the settlements as they went in search of the Tory force. Witness the Watauga Home Guard drill and hone their skills as defenders of the frontier. Learn about the different firearms used in Colonial America.

Noon: “Our daily bread” — Join Mr. Simerly at the bake oven to learn about the baking of bread and other goods in the wood fired earthen oven.

1 p.m.: “Echoes of Revolution” — Join the Watauga Valley Fifes and Drums at Fort Watauga and learn about martial music of the 18th century.

2 p.m.: “Keep yer powder dry” — Join historic interpreter Lisa Bennett to hear the story of Mary Patton and learn about the making of gunpowder on the colonial frontier. (Talbot House).

3 p.m.: “Colonial firearms” — Learn about the different firearms used in Colonial America.

4 p.m.: Camp closes.

Sunday, Sept. 22

10 a.m.: “Raising the Colors” — Join The Overmountain Men inside Fort Watauga as they assemble for morning instructions, militia inspection and posting the flag.

11 a.m.: “Worship Service” — Feel free to join the militia for Sunday morning service held in the courtyard of Fort Watauga.

Noon: “Our daily bread” — Join Mr. Simerly at the bake oven to learn about the baking of bread and other goods in the wood fired earthen oven.

1 p.m.: “Echoes of Revolution” — Join the Watauga Valley Fifes and Drums at Fort Watauga and learn about martial music of the 18th century.

2 p.m.: “Keep yer powder dry” — Join historic interpreter Lisa Bennett to hear the story of Mary Patton and learn about the making of gunpowder on the colonial frontier. (Talbot House).

2:30 p.m.: “Every seventh man” — Oral tradition states that the Overmountain Men left behind one in seven to guard the settlements as they went in search of the tory force. Witness the Watauga Home Guard drill and hone their skills as defenders of the frontier. Learn about the different firearms used in Colonial America.

3 p.m.: Retiring of the colors, camp closes.

Wednesday, Sept. 25

Overmountain Victory Trail Association Watauga River crossing: For the past 44 years members of the OVTA have recreated this historic occurrence following the same route and timetable as their legendary forebears from Abingdon, Virginia, to Kings Mountain, South Carolina.

Johnson City Press Videos