Located just 3 miles from our campground! See sparkling gems and minerals, more than 40 pre-historic animals, a steam-powered locomotive, a helicopter and a jet cockpit, or travel the galaxy with a show in the planetarium and see the stars in a new light with special stargazing events at the observatory. Tellus is open Monday-Sunday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
In 1825, the Cherokee National Legislature established a capital called New Echota. The thriving town, this new governmental seat became headquarters for the small independent eastern Tennessee and northeastern Alabama. Today, New Echota is an active State Historic Site where visitors can tour original and reconstructed historic structures and learn about the dreams and lives of the Indians who tried to pattern their government and lifestyle after the white man only to be uprooted from their land removed westward on the Trail of Tears in 1838-39.
Home to several thousand Native Americans from 1000 A.D. to 1550 A.D., this 54 acre site contains six earthen mounds, a plaza, and village area, borrow pits and defensive ditch. This is the most intact Mississippian Culture site in the Southeastern United States. The Etowah Indian Mounds symbolize a society rich in ritual. Towering over the community, the 63-foot flat-topped earthen knoll was used as a platform for the home of the priest-chief. In another mound, nobility were buried in elaborate costumes accompanied by items they would need in their after-lives. Today, visitors may tour the museum where exhibits interpret daily life in the once self-sufficient community.
During the 1790s, James Van became a Cherokee Indian leader and wealthy businessman. He established the largest and most prosperous plantation in the Cherokee Nation, covering 1,000 acres of what is now Murray County. In 1804 he completed the construction of a beautiful two-and-a-half story brick home that was the most elegant and expensive in the Cherokee Nation. After Vann was murdered in 1809, his son Joseph inherited the mansion and plantation. Joseph was also a Cherokee leader and became even more wealthy that his father. In the 1830s almost the entire Cherokee Nation was forced west by state and federal troops on the infamous Trail of Tears. The Vann family lost their elegant home and plantation, rebuilding in the Cherokee Territory in Oklahoma.