Sunday, January 23, 2011

On the trail of Deerfield's original inhabitants

At the end of Deerfield Drive is a 100-acre tract of land owned by an East Tennessee lumber company. Attempts have been made to develop the land, but so far the rugged terrain has thwarted the efforts. Legend has it that somewhere on the hills or in the valleys of this land is one of the largest Indian burial mounds in East Tennessee.

Suffering from cabin fever, Neighbor Larry and I set out on this sunny Sunday afternoon to see if we could find the mysterious mound. Armed with a compass and a good topography map of the region given to me by my son, we began our hunt.

Walking this area anytime but the dead of winter is impossible. The fallen trees and thick brush make the land almost impassable in the other three seasons.

After going up and down and round and round, we noticed on the topo map a ridge peak called Tomb Ridge. We located the landmass and at the highest elevation we noticed a distinct "bump" in the ridge. The "bump" was flat on top. Upon closer inspection we noticed that on this promontory grew the only pine trees in the area. This means the area had once been cleared of the large hardwood trees like poplar, oak and hickory. The fast-growing pine trees were able to move in and take over.

I had read where Indians chose the highest peak in an area so their deceased would be closer to the spirits in the sky.

We decided that we had found the Indian burial mound. We don't know for a fact that we did, but it was a pleasant way to spend a sunny January afternoon.

TOP PHOTO: Larry looks up at a massive shagbark hickory not too far from Tomb Ridge.
BOTTOM PHOTO: Larry, almost in exact center of photo, stands just below the peak of what we think is Deerfield's Indian burial mound. (Double-click on the photo for a better view.)

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