Watershed Path Traces Chattanooga's Ecological And Historic Roots

Thursday, November 9, 2017 - by Thom Benson

The Tennessee River, like other major waterways around the world, has long served as a cradle of civilization. For thousands of years, people have been drawn to the banks of the river because of the area’s natural beauty and abundant biological riches.

A new interpretive trail, the Watershed Path, was dedicated at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute yesterday. This short walking trail offers a chance to appreciate the region’s history while gaining a better understanding of its ecological and historic roots.

The concept for the Watershed Path emerged before construction began on the Aquarium’s freshwater science center, which opened in October 2016.

“While a team of archaeologists were conducting a comprehensive cultural assessment of this location, we recognized the opportunity to tell others about the site’s historic significance,” said Dr. Anna George, the Aquarium’s Vice President of Conservation Science and Education. “Although there was no evidence of a permanent settlement at the site, the team did find pottery shards and ancient fire pits that indicate people camped at this spot more than 3,000 years ago.”

Humans may have visited the riverside site as early as 8,000 years ago during the Middle Archaic period. Then, as now, the location was a verdant paradise of plants and animals. Clean drinking water was abundant, and the river’s surrounding woods and wetlands served as an abundant resource for food, shelter, and tool-making.

However, the archaeological evidence suggests this particular spot was only used as a short-term campsite. Long periods of time — some as short as a few months, others stretching for centuries — might pass before the next campers would happen upon this location.

Archaeology is just one aspect highlighted on the Watershed Path. Five interpretive panels lead visitors on a journey tracing the early history of “first terrace” communities. These placards reveal how waterways shape our world and demonstrate how today’s communities thrive along, and are dependent upon, healthy river systems.

The Aquarium received a $10,000 grant from the Chickamauga Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution to research and produce the Watershed Path. The organization’s involvement stems from a desire to educate future generations about the area’s historic and ecological significance. “Our members are happy that our organization could participate in the development of permanent educational materials relating to our local history,” said Barbie Standefer, Special Project Grants chairman for Chickamauga Chapter DAR. 

“Historic Preservation, Education and Patriotism are the encompassing principles of the National Society Daughters of the America Revolution, and Conservation is one of the nearly 40 NSDAR National Committees through which local Chapter members accomplish their community service work,” said Joye Duke, Regent, Chickamauga Chapter DAR. “For these reasons, Chickamauga Chapter members have been excited to be a part of the development of the Tennessee Aquarium’s Watershed Path through the sponsorship of the grant from our National Society.”

Thanks to the grant, the conservation institute now serves not only as a hub of aquatic conservation efforts in the Southeast but a place where visitors can better understand the area’s history and the millennia-long, intimate relationship humans have had with the Tennessee River.

“We are grateful for such a generous donation from the NSDAR to help us celebrate the cultural significance of this site,” said Dr. George. “Healthy rivers have always been essential – here in the Moccasin Bend/Williams Island area of the Tennessee River Gorge and around the world. Reflecting on our history helps us be mindful of our role as stewards of the incredible natural resources that surround us, and how we all need to work together to ensure these treasures are protected for the future.”

The Watershed Path is free and open to the public Monday through Friday each week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Closed on major holidays. Due to limited parking, please contact hbw@tnaqua.org to schedule group visits to the Watershed Path.)

Those who wish to tour the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Insitute should check the events and programs calendar on the Aquarium’s website: http://www.tnaqua.org/events-programs Monthly tours are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. 

 



Fort Loudoun State Park Veterans Hunt Is Successful

The first Fort Loudoun State Park, Disabled Veterans Hunt took place on Monday. Six veterans from the Disabled American Veterans, a nonprofit charity that provides support for veterans and their families, joined staff and volunteers before sunrise for breakfast and a quick briefing before heading to their hunting blinds.       Joe Pike, Monroe County ... (click for more)

Ringgold's Trail Of Tears Phase II Out For Bid; Improvements To Be Made On Trailhead

The City of Ringgold’s Trail of Tears will be seeing improvements soon. Currently, the city has the Phase II out to bid. This project will be improving the trail head at the Ringgold Water Treatment Plant located on South Depot Street. The project will also create a concrete hard surface from the exiting hard surface to the wooden pedestrian bridge. Additional parking will also ... (click for more)

City Council Votes On 1st Reading To Lower Rain Retention Requirement In South Chickamauga Creek Basin

The City Council on Tuesday voted to lower the requirement for rainwater retention in the South Chickamauga Creek basin. The move from holding the first 1.6 inches to one inch had been requested by the Home Builders Association and the Berke administration. Sandy Kurtz, longtime leader of the South Chickamauga Creek Greenway Alliance, said the resolution was "not yet ready ... (click for more)

Former Pilot Regional Account Specialist Says Former President Mark Hazelwood Approved Of Fraud

When well-known attorney Rusty Hardin on Tuesday asked a former Pilot regional account specialist if she believed that former president Mark Hazelwood knew of a plan to cheat trucking firms he didn't get the answer he expected. Holly Radford told a jury in Chattanooga, "I know he had knowledge of the rebate schemes that were going on. "I had conversations with him about it ... (click for more)

Thankful For Tennessee

While Christmas reigns supreme as a holiday marking the birth of our Lord, I have always felt a special connection with Thanksgiving. These days Christmas unfortunately includes ubiquitous commercialism which can distract us from the true meaning of the day. Thanksgiving stands apart from all that. This day gives us an opportunity to reflect and take stock of our many blessings.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Two From Sandy

Down through the years I have delighted in sharing stories that come from my friend Sandy Pohfal in Texas. Seeing how Thanksgiving is almost here – day after tomorrow – I figure it’s about time to slow down and let warmth of this week prepare us to give thanks for both the good and bad – without the bad things we wouldn’t recognize the real blessings. The first story I am going ... (click for more)