Tuesday, Sep 14, 2010
Join us on Wednesday, September 22, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. for the unveiling of new exhibits and a retracement hiking trail at Mantle Rock Preserve. The National Park Service, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, designed exhibits that highlight the rarity and wonderment of sandstone glades and native prairie habitats, while portraying the hardships of the Cherokee experience in the Mantle Rock area during their forced migration to Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma. The public is invited to walk the same path that the Cherokee walked that bitterly cold winter of 1838-1839. Mantle Rock Preserve is located on Highway 133 near Joy, Kentucky.
“The act of retracing the path that the Cherokee walked in 1838-1839 is a very meaningful experience,” says Superintendent Aaron Mahr of the National Trails Intermountain Region. “There are few places remaining where the public can physically walk a portion of the historic road that has not been altered since the era of Federal Indian Removal Policy. It is a part of American history that is painful to remember, but we cannot allow ourselves to forget.”
“Mantle Rock Preserve provides an opportunity for people to not only see some of the rare and unique natural features of Kentucky, but also learn about an important event in history,” explains Shelly Morris, Western Kentucky Project Director of The Nature Conservancy. “The interpretive exhibits that are being installed will allow visitors to learn about both the natural and human history of the area, while spending time outdoors at this beautiful preserve.”
The National Trails Intermountain Region administers the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. The trail’s purpose is to commemorate the 1838-1839 forced removal of the people of the Cherokee Nation from their homelands in the east to Indian Territory, present-day Oklahoma.
For the Cherokee traveling in the brutal winter of 1838, this segment of the trail was one of the most difficult parts of their ordeal. They became stuck between the frozen Ohio and the Mississippi rivers in the harshest of winter conditions. This retracement opportunity at Mantle Rock Preserve, including the hiking trail and exhibits, will raise awareness about Cherokee experience. Similarly, the installation of new “original route” signs along an 8.5 mile stretch of nearby roads in Pope County, Illinois, will make this dark chapter of American history known as the Trail of Tears more visible and recognizable.
The National Trails System consists of historic, scenic, and recreation trails designated by Congress to provide for outdoor recreation needs, promote the enjoyment, appreciation, and preservation of open-air, outdoor areas, and historic resources, and encourage public access and citizen involvement.
The Nature Conservancy’s Mantle Rock Preserve contains extraordinary biological diversity, including cliffs that become carpeted with wildflowers during springtime and a small babbling stream. Mantle Rock also hosts plentiful forest and grassland wildlife species that include grassland birds, deer, and turkey. The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to preserve the plants, animals, and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.
Learn more about The Nature Conservancy’s Mantle Rock Preserve, the National Park Service’s Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, and the National Trails System by visiting the following websites:
Mantle Rock Preserve:
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail:
National Trails System