Park Ranger Larry Beane will present “Trail of Tears: The Benge Route” at Little River Canyon Center on Saturday January 11, 2014, from 2 to 3 PM. The survivors of the Benge Detachment of the Trail of Tears arrived in Indian Territory 175 years ago, on January 11, 1839. The presentation will include a discussion about the people who left here and a short video about the Cherokee Removal.
The Benge Detachment left Fort Payne at the end of September, 1838. They spent four months traveling, mostly in the winter. They arrived with at least 1132 people in Indian Territory. This was one of the more successful detachments, having the least number, 33 recorded deaths, and the second shortest trip time of 126 days.
This area was a major Cherokee center in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Today there are few traces revealing the significance of the Cherokee Nation surrounding Fort Payne. The Landmarks Museum currently has a Trail of Tears exhibit downtown. You may also visit Fort Payne Cabin and the Willstown Mission Sites. It is hard to imagine this community, also known as Willstown or Wattstown, was once the home of Cherokee chiefs. John Ross, the chief of the Cherokee Nation during removal was born in nearby Turkeytown, and had a brother who lived here.
National Park Superintendent Gail Bishop and Little River Canyon Center Director Pete Conroy invite the public to come out and enjoy the free event. Call (256) 845-9605 for more information or to register for the program. Visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/liri or follow our updates on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lirinps to find information on this and other events.