For two days, a fascinating chapter of early American history will be brought to life at Davidson’s Fort Historic Park.
Located off Lackey Town Road in Old Fort, the reconstructed fort is designed to educate and highlight the history of McDowell County at the head of the Catawba River during the late 1700s. Built by militia soldiers, Davidson’s Fort was used to protect North Carolina’s far-western settlements during the colonial era. It is this fort that gave the town of Old Fort its name. At the reconstructed stockade, living historians recreate the colonial era and provide some information about our rich heritage to visitors.
In the summer of 1776, Cherokee warriors, concerned about the intrusion of white settlers into their native mountain lands, attacked the colonial outpost, which was built by Samuel Davidson. In response, Gen. Griffith Rutherford led an expedition against the Cherokees later that fall. He put an army together of 2,400 men, 1,500 pack horses and 800 beef cattle to wage war against the Native Americans, according to Bob Martin, president of Davidson’s Fort Historic Park.
This expedition came to be known as the Cherokee War of 1776 and the route followed by the army came to be known as the Rutherford Trace. Rutherford and his soldiers destroyed numerous Cherokee villages in what is now western North Carolina.
“The Cherokee attack on Davidson’s Fort would bring about the destruction of the Indian towns and forever change the Cherokee way of life,” said Martin.
On Saturday and Sunday, Davidson’s Fort Historic Park will again present a re-enactment of the Cherokee attack on the fort in 1776. This re-enactment has been held there before.
The living history event will be presented from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days. There, spectators can view Native American artifacts, learn more about the history of the period, play various children’s games and toys and watch militia drills with flintlock and cannon. There will be various demonstrations throughout the day to include the soldier’s kits, tools of the period, making a corn husk doll and much more. A working tavern will sell cold drinks.
The gate admission is $5 for those aged 13 and older. Those who are 12 and younger are admitted free.
The reconstructed stockade is owned and operated by a non-profit organization, Davidson's Fort Historic Park Inc. Its oversight lies with the board of directors, the members of which serve as volunteer staff and have been responsible for a great deal of the work done to build the site. Davidson’s Fort is funded entirely by private funds from grants and donations. It receives no state or federal funding. It currently receives no money from McDowell County or the town of Old Fort either, according to Martin.
“Our mission statement is education about frontier life and events in the 18th century,” he added. “Let’s help keep history alive.”
For more information, you can visit the Facebook page for Davidson's Fort Historic Park or call 828-407-8300.