From the establishment of the Watauga Association to the Transylvania Purchase to the muster of the Overmountain Men, Sycamore Shoals played a significant role in 18th century America, serving as the setting for some of the most dramatic events in the expansion of the nation’s western boundary.
And while there’s much to learn from browsing the educational displays inside the Elizabethton park’s visitors center or exploring its reconstruction of Fort Watauga, living history interpreters are vital to sharing the historic site’s rich past with visitors.
“It’s a matter of reaching the public,” said Sarah Redding, a seasonal interpretive ranger at Sycamore Shoals. “We’ve found that through all sorts of different events that we host — like the militia musters and the Siege [at Fort Watauga] and the Independence celebration — people really do get a lot out of living history.
“We’re going to try to get a volunteer base built up to just have people man [Fort Watauga] because most of the time it stands empty. A bunch of empty cabins, yes, they’re neat to look at, but they mean a lot more if people are down there actually telling you about them and living out of them, so that’s what we’re trying to encourage.”
But the cost of the historically accurate costumes worn by the park’s volunteer interpreters can be prohibitive, Redding said. That’s why Sycamore Shoals is calling all able and willing seamstresses, amateur or professional, to participate in its inaugural volunteer sewing day, coming up from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, July 16 at the park.
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