• Leatherwood Ford panorama 2011

    Big South Fork

    National River & Recreation Area KY,TN

People

Abandoned barn in the No Business drainage.
An abandoned barn stands in the No Business drainage.
Sam Perry
 

Human occupation of the Upper Cumberland Plateau began approximately 12,000 years ago. These prehistoric Native American hunters and gatherers were nomadic and moved through this area living off of the abundant game and plants that lived here. About 1000 years ago more stable food became available through the invention of farming. However, without modern fertilizers the soils of the Plateau are not very suitable for farming and most of the Native American groups moved to the broad, fertile river valleys. But hunting and gathering was such a productive way of life that some of the small nomadic groups continued to practice that lifestyle throughout the area. Other Native American Indian groups from villages and towns in the river bottoms would also come to the plateau to supplement their corn, bean, squash food supply.

We do not know what these prehistoric people called themselves but by the late 1700s Cherokee people were known to be in this area.

Euro-American fur hunters came into the area in the late 1700s and some of these hardy fur trappers are reputed to have established their base at “Station Camp” Creek” where the Charit Creek Lodge is located today. By the first decade of the 19th Century, (1810), pioneer settlers came to the Upper Cumberland Plateau and the area of the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. These first pioneers established farms and began developing the resources of the area including Salt Town, the 1817-1840 site of the Beatty Saltworks, to the numerous saltpeter mines (dating to 1813-1860) found throughout the area. After these “cottage industries” waxed and waned, following the Civil War, the coal and timber, and now oil and gas resources of the area were developed.

The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area was established to protect and interpret the evidence and remains of these past lifeways while at the same time allowing for numerous recreational outdoor activities.

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