Sen. Lamar Alexander, Congressman Zach Wamp, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park Superintendent Shawn Benge and Friends of Moccasin Bend National Park toured the Moccasin Bend National Archaeological District aboard the Tennessee Aquarium River Gorge Explorer on Thursday.
As part of the tour, Sen. Alexander and Congressman Wamp heard updated plans for riverbank stabilization and an Interpretive Center to promote preservation and awareness of the archeological district.
“Congressman Wamp’s leadership has helped make possible the preservation of the Moccasin Bend's rich history and culture,” said Sen. Alexander, ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies. “One of the most important roles of our National Parks is to serve as a classroom of sorts where we can learn and teach American history, and Moccasin Bend National Archaeological District will provide exactly that experience for generations to come.”
Rep. Wamp said, “Today’s tour is a reminder of the historical value of Moccasin Bend, and why we need to educate people about its cultural meaning and preserve it for future generations. The Moccasin Bend National Archeological District will be a living memorial, an educational and cultural masterpiece for the many who love history and our heritage because Senator Alexander, the National Park Service and the Friends of Moccasin Bend all share the vision of this most significant place.”
Sally Robinson, Friends of Moccasin Bend president and City Council member, said, “The Friends have worked for years to protect and preserve Moccasin Bend because of its rich and varied human history: from prehistoric cultures, the Muscogee and Cherokee occupations and the tragic Trail of Tears, to well-preserved Civil War fortifications and encampments. Now, the design and planning stages for a spectacular interpretive center are getting underway. We know that visitors to the center will come away with new connections to nature and the human stories that make Moccasin Bend an American treasure.”
Congressman Wamp authored legislation that led to the 2003 designation of approximately 750 acres of Moccasin Bend as a unit of the National Park Service to preserve the area’s rich heritage for future generations. Moccasin Bend National Archeological District, located on a prominent bend of the Tennessee River, is a unit of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. It has a varied cultural history with evidence of occupation dating back to the earliest human cultures in North America. The Bend contains a unique array of contiguous prehistoric and historic sites that chronicle important aspects of human history, including Native American villages and the remains of Civil War earthworks, he said.
Officials said, "Substantial riverbank erosion is occurring at Moccasin Bend along the approximately 5.8 miles of riverfront on the Tennessee River. The significant cultural resources concentrated in this area are potentially being lost because of this erosion. Efforts are currently underway for riverbank stabilization and to establish an Interpretive Center to promote awareness of the archeological district."