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some cascades on the Duck River
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park

732 Stone Fort Drive Manchester, Tennessee 37355
Park is open 8:00am-sunset, and museum is open 8:00am-4:30pm.
931-723-5073 1.5 hours
October 2011 Summer, Fall, Spring
$0-9 Manchester Tennessee
Website Historical Historic Sites
First review
An ancient and mysterious religious site in Tennessee Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park is approximately 800 acres and contains remnants of several walls and enclosures on about 50 acres which were built by Woodland era Indians around 250 AD. The park also includes a small historical museum, several hiking trails and a campground. The main historic site is a partially wooded plateau bordered by two branches of the Duck River. Several waterfalls enhance the beauty and serenity of this park.

It is unclear why the Indians built stone walls here, but most archeologists believe it was for ceremonial reasons. Thus, the fort name likely is a misnomer. The site's development coincided with the rise of permanent settlements and increased use agriculture and pottery by Indians of this era. Old Stone Fort probably had great religious importance to these ancient people, evidenced by 400-500 years of continuous use before they mysteriously left. The site generally remained undisturbed until the 1800s when portions were either cleared or removed. In 1966 the property was generously sold to the state by the Chumley family, which had turned down many lucrative offers from developers. Park facilities were added in the 1970s.

The small museum provided a good overview of the site and its historical importance. There were several displays with original or period artifacts, an interesting timeline that placed the Old Stone Fort in historical context, and a thoughtful and somewhat philosophical orientation film. Don't skip the museum at this park as you won't get nearly as much appreciation for the site without it. The historical grounds are easy to walk around via a 1.25 mile loop on the White and Wall Trails. If you want to take a longer hike, there is an extension on the Red Trail past an abandoned river channel, but it was similar to the main loop trails. Also, the main White and Wall Trails include views of picturesque waterfalls on both the Little Duck and Duck Rivers. Old Stone Fort was an enjoyable place to visit on a perfect fall day. While it will mainly appeal to history buffs, the park also is a good place for a relaxing walk in a quiet and lovely setting.
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