A visit to Fort Loudoun will take you back to the days of the first settlement of English colonists in Tennessee. The fort was built in 1756 during the French and Indian War to foil French designs on the region. Although the story ended in treachery and tragedy a short four years later, the fort served its purpose, and today we speak English in east Tennessee, not French.
The whole business centered around establishing friendly relations with the local Cherokee. The French were busy trying to win them over, and were spreading lies and rumors about the English. Fort Loudoun was built to offer the Cherokee protection and to establish trade with them. The Cherokee, for their part, welcomed the effort and offered the land for the building of the fort.
Things began to sour rather quickly, however. Language difficulties, misunderstandings and resentments came into play. There was misbehavior and plain stupidity on both sides. The Cherokee were by no means united in their attitudes. Some, most notably Attakullakulla (aka the Little Carpenter), were consistently friendly to the English. Others were more fickle, or downright hostile. By 1760, the situation had turned ugly, and the Cherokee laid siege to Fort Loudoun, which eventually surrendered.
The Cherokee agreed to give the garrison safe passage out of the region. But it was not to be. A large Cherokee force attacked the garrison's encampment the next morning, massacring about twenty of the men and all the officers except Captain Stuart. The rest were taken prisoners.
Here the story takes yet another turn. It happened that the lone surviving officer, Captain Stuart, was good friends with Attakullakulla, who purchased his friend from his captors and later contrived to deliver him back to safety. The friendship between these two men did much to improve relations between the Cherokee and the British in future years.
The reconstructed fort is located in Fort Loudoun State Park, on an idyllic island overlooking Tellico Lake. The Visitor Center offers museum displays and a short informational film, as well as books and other items for sale.
To really get a feel for the history of the place, try timing your visit during one of the special Living History events held here. Throughout the year, these special events offer costumed historical interpreters and tours. The biggest events are the 18th Century Trade Fair held in September and Christmas at Fort Loudoun in early December. The Fort Loudoun Association web site has all the details.
The park provides a variety of recreational activities. Enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the tables lakeside, where you can take in the view from under a cool canopy of trees. The picnic area includes comfortable tables, grills, water spigots, and restrooms. A fishing pier is located in the picnic area and offers views of the lake as well as fishing (license required for those 13 and up).
You can walk off your lunch with a pleasant amble through green rolling hills and wooded area on the park's 5 miles of trails. There's also a small paved nature trail in the picnic area for shorter strolls.
Boaters will find boat ramps outside the park, and there are two boat docks bordering the park.
See the Fort Loudoun State Park web site for park information and a park map.