Historic Markers Across Tennessee

The Tennessee Overhill Experience

Marker ID:  
Location: 209 Cherohola Skyway, Tellico Plains, TN
County: Monroe
Coordinates: N 35° 22.03    W 084° 17.968
  35.36716666    -84.29946666
Waymark: None


The Tennessee Overhill Experience
From Furs to Factories
—Sweetwater-An Historic Commercial Center —

Tellico Plains
Early Iron and Logging Industries

Tellico Plains
’ first industrial venture, the Tellico Iron Works, started around 1825 with the construction of a foundry by an early white settler. Local legend, however, holds that native residents of the important Cherokee town of Great Tellico began the bloomery before 1812. After 1843, a family of New York industrialists operated the iron pit mines, furnaces, mills and shops, and supporting charcoal industry. Pig iron and finished products, such as iron skillets and kettles, were produced for export and bar iron for local blacksmiths. During the Civil War, Confederates produced munitions and other armaments, and railroad equipment at the iron works until federal troops burned it in 1863. The Mansion, a French-style house built in 1846 for the ironmaster, is still a landmark private residence.


(lower right)This site is part of the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Trail and is an official Tennessee 200 Bicentennial Project. Interpretive signs, museums, historic sites and a guidebook tell the story of the industrial Revolution as it happened in McMinn, Monroe, and Polk Counties. For more information concerning other sites, contact the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association at 423-263-7232

The Tennessee Overhill Experience: From Furs to Factories was funded by the Tennessee Department of Transportation; Tennessee 200, Inc; East Tennessee Foundation; and the counties of McMinn, Monroe, and Polk.

(upper center) Felling trees at Big Fodder Stack Cave, 1918

While Tellico Plains’ early iron industry required considerable timber for fuel, nearby virgin forests continued to flourish. From the 1870s until the 1920s, logging sawmills, and related wood finishing and tanning industries ushered in a cash economy and jobs; however, the magnificent, old forests were destroyed. At peak of logging, 40 timber crews operated locally. Babcock Street, lined with former company houses, is named for a Pittsburg company that once employed 700 workers here.

(upper right) Mess Hall at Tellico River Lumber Camp near Citico, circa 1915.

Photographs courtesy of Charles Hall

Tennessee Department of Transportation and others.

Photographs of the marker can be found on HMDB.org