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. 

 



Tellico Hatchery Veteran's Event Is Successful

The TWRA, Tellico Hatchery held Project healing Waters Tellico River Fishing Event. Although the third year for a Project Healing Waters event, this was the first year that anglers fished the Tellico River. The event was previously held at Green Cove Pond. This year’s event was held in honor of the two fallen naval aviators, Lieutenant Patrick “Tank” Ruth and Lieutenant ... (click for more)

TWRA Regional Office Receives Pollinator Garden Grant

The TWRA Region 3 office has received a grant from the national Bayer Feed a Bee program to install a pollinator garden at its Crossville office. This national program has allotted $500,000 in grants to establish foraging plots for pollinators in all 50 states by the end of 2018. The Feed a Bee program has funded a total of 71 projects through the initiative to increase forage for ... (click for more)

3 People Shot Early Saturday Morning; 1 Is Killed; 2 Victims Are Known Gang Members

Ladarius Cross, 28, Terrance Careathers, 26, and a juvenile were shot early Saturday morning. Cross was killed.   Chattanooga Police responded to a motor vehicle crash at 5:16 a.m. in the 1400 block of Roanoke Avenue.   Upon arrival, Chattanooga Police Officers located the single vehicle crash with two people suffering for apparent gunshot wounds. The driver, ... (click for more)

CSAS Teacher Who Was Once Reported Missing Facing DUI Charge

A teacher at Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, who recently was reported missing and then was spotted, has now been arrested. John Albert Eaton, 44, was arrested Sunday in Red Bank on a DUI charge. He gave his address as 9580 Sweet Gum Lane, Soddy Daisy. Eaton's wife had reported him missing after she said he told her he was going to the school on a Sunday afternoon ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Should Be Problem Solvers Around The City

Re: Roy Exum’s “Stay, Signal Mountain, Stay”  Well this article is something to think about. I think the split could go either way, and Signal Mountain schools would still flourish, as they have done for the past several years. What I'm worried about is why Signal Mountain has not yet had the guts to go be problem solvers at Howard, or Tyner, or Central. Why do ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The School Board Bullies

When the good people of Signal Mountain join with their loved ones to give thanks for many, many blessings on this hallowed Thursday, you can bet the Hamilton County Department of Education will be on nary a list. For the past year a diligent advisory committee has studied the feasibility of forming its own school district and exactly one week prior to Thanksgiving, the misguided ... (click for more)