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Sycamore Shoals' History at Home programs start today

John Thompson • Updated Jun 2, 2020 at 8:10 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Today marks the beginning of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park’s 2020 edition of the popular History at Home programs.

History at Home provides the opportunity for park guests to participate in educational programs geared to both history and nature study.

The opening has been planned this year with considerations that have never been needed before — the requirement to comply with the social distancing guidelines of the Center for Disease Control to prevent the spread of COVID-19. That means the programs will be presented to groups of 10 or fewer.

For that reason, all guests must register in advance to attend the programs of their choice. Registration can be accomplished online at https://bit.ly/2LXWbtC. On the page, choose Upcoming Events in the left-hand menu. From there, you will see all the upcoming programs. Most programs are offered free of charge except for historic house tours of the Carter Mansion and Sabine Hill, that will begin in mid-June. There is also the opportunity to donate to Sycamore Shoals when you register for your free program.

Attendees are also encouraged to bring masks and keep 6-feet apart from other guests

The park’s seasonal interpretive rangers for 2020 are Laura Ellis and Taylor Moorefield.

The schedule for the first week is as follows:

Wednesday, June 3:

11 a.m.: “Colonial Letter-Writing.” In today’s world of media, the traditional act of letter writing is increasingly less practiced. Ellis will demonstrate the art behind the main source of communication on the frontier, including formal etiquette, wax stamping, and the varieties of message sending during the Revolutionary War.

3 p.m.: “Native Flames.” Moorefield will talk and demonstrate primitive fire methods used by the Cherokee and other native tribes. You will learn what types of local woods are effective for fire by friction, purposes and uses for fire by the native peoples, and get to see a flame made with a bow drill or hand drill kit — entirely from natural materials. Meet inside the fort. Ages 10 and up.

Thursday, June 4:

Noon: “Creek Crawl.” Ellis will host a “critter hunt” along the trail. Tennessee’s waterways are prime area for animals large and small to build their homes and hideouts. The mission is to examine those creatures and the benefits they bring to the region. Meet at the butterfly garden. Catching equipment will be provided and individuals should prepare to get wet. Children welcome.

3:30 p.m.: “Useful Plants of Appalachia.” Moorefield will lead an an easy hike through the park’s walking trails along the Watauga River. Hikers will identify and discuss 20+ plants, trees and flowers along the trail, and any edible and/or medicinal uses they offer. Traditional uses by Cherokee and settlers will also be discussed. Plant lovers, history enthusiasts, and self-sufficiency buffs alike will enjoy this program. Ages 12 and up. Rain or shine. Bring water and comfortable walking shoes, and dress for the weather.

Friday, June 5:

10 a.m.: “Period Project Runway.” Ellis will be offering a demonstration on 18th- and 19th-century attire, and how the fashion industry shaped early American society and trade. The program will take place inside the visitors center.

3 p.m.: “Do Not Forget Your Knots!” Moorefield will demonstrate and discuss several useful knots for camping, shelter building and utility uses. You will get a chance to learn and practice these knots.

Saturday, June 6:

11 a.m.: “Let the Colonial Games Begin!” In the 18th century, children would invent many different games to pass their time. Ellis will bring those games to the 21st century in the field by the butterfly garden, so bring your children, set up a picnic, and enjoy the day watching or participating in colonial games.

3 p.m.: “Music on the Frontier.” Join Moorefield and hear history come alive through song. He will play songs and tunes from the 18th century and discuss the ways the settlers made music, and the important role it played in their daily lives.

Sunday June 7:

Noon: “Women on the Frontier.” Sit down and learn all about the daily lifestyle of young ladies, upper-class women, and the working housewife in 18th century South. Ellis will hold casual discussions on what women wore, etiquette, and daily chores that were done in order to keep the home in order. This event will be held in the second cabin inside the fort.

3 p.m.: “Frontier Firearms.” Witness the flintlock rifle in action. Learn about this significant tool and weapon of the frontier, its history, uses, construction, and see it fire. All ages welcome. Meet at the fort.