Moccasin Bend

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Moccasin Bend National Archeological District
Moccasin Bend, viewed from Lookout Mountain
Nearest city Chattanooga, Tennessee
Governing body National Park Service
NRHP Reference # 86003510
Significant dates
Added to NRHP September 8, 1986[1]
Designated NHLD September 9, 1996[2]

Moccasin Bend Archaeological District is an archeological site in Tennessee that is included in the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. "On March 13, 2001, Representative Wamp introduced HR 980, calling for the creation of Moccasin Bend National Archeological District to be part of the Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Park."[3]

The 956-acre (387 ha) area was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986. It is located directly across the Tennessee River from Lookout Mountain, site of an American Civil War battle. The archeological district is significant due to its archaeological resources of American Indian settlement. Since Moccasin Bend is located in Chattanooga, it is considered to be a major city that consists of some of the most historical Native American sites in the United States.[4]

A National Park Service description in 1996 read:

This is the best preserved and most important compact, yet diverse, sample of archeological remains known in the Tennessee River Valley, indicative of Chattanooga's pivotal status in trade, communications, economics, and political importance in the interior Southeast. The site includes evidence of occupation by Native American groups of the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods; because of 16th-century Spanish trade and gift items found there, the site provides significant opportunities to study the early contact period in the Southeast. Also included are Civil War earthworks associated with the battle of Chattanooga.[2]


Moccasin Bend has been a vital area of archeological resources for thousands of years. American Indians used this land as a place for a home as long as 12,000 years ago. Moccasin Bend is also the site of parts of the Trail of Tears. In 1838, the Cherokee Indians were forced out of the area by the U.S. Government. During the Paleo-Indian Period (10500–8000 BC), Moccasin Bend served as a home for Paleo-Indians. These people evidently had a highly mobile hunting and gathering way of life. The artifact markers for this period include a variety of fluted, semi- fluted, and un-fluted lanceolate projectile points. The Paleo-Indian period corresponds to the end of the Pleistocene Era.[5] During the Woodland Period (700 BC-1000 AD,) there were major changes evolving with the needs of the Indian people. The use of bow and arrows became the primary way of hunting and pottery became widely popular throughout the Indian tribes. From the Woodland Period, artifacts have been found on Moccasin Bend. During the Mississippian Period (AD 1000–1630), the American Indians resided on Moccasin Bend in large villages enclosed by corn fields and other agricultural necessities. The Mississippian Period was also the time of interaction with the Spanish to the area. Moccasin Bend was very important area of land at this time. Another historical site constructed across Moccasin Bend in 1805 was the Federal Road. The Federal Road was used as one of the wagon roads connecting the United States and the Indian Territories.[6] Moccasin Bend also played a major role in the Civil War. The Union forces took control of west and middle Tennessee, leaving one important place they had not yet conquered. Their next target was Chattanooga. "According to Civil War historian, James McPherson, Chattanooga had great strategic value, for the only railroads linking the eastern and western parts of the Confederacy converged there in a gap carved through the Cumberland Mountains by the Tennessee River. Union forces could divide the eastern portion by penetrating into Georgia via Chattanooga.”[7]


On February 20, 2003, Public Law 108-7 added approximately 780 acres (320 ha) of Moccasin Bend to the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park as a new park unit.[8] Currently, there are two public hiking trails on Moccasin Bend, the only public visitor facilities on this park unit while the National Park Service prepares a master plan. Moccasin Bend has plentiful natural resources. Moccasin Bend is a 1000 acre peninsula sitting on the edge of the Tennessee River. It contains many new developments as well as land resources like a variety of woodlands and past agricultural areas.[9]

Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute[edit]

Moccasin Bend is the site of the Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute. It is located on a private area of land on the Tennessee River. It was founded in 1961 by the Tennessee State Legislature. "Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute is a psychiatric hospital in Chattanooga, TN, with 150 beds. Survey data for the latest year available shows that the hospital had a total of 2,340 admissions.".[10] The hospital was built into five different buildings. The first building was built in 1961. "A local architect, Mario Bianculli, designed the majority of the buildings at the Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute. Considered “Chattanooga’s First Modernist,” Bianculli was a pioneer of modern architecture in Tennessee and the southeastern United States."[11] The hospital specializes in psychiatric care. They offer services to a variety of people in need of psychiatric help.


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  2. ^ a b "Moccasin Bend Archeological District". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-07-01. 
  3. ^ National Park Service (April 2014). "Moccasin Bend Cultural Landscape Report Introduction, Part I, and II" (PDF). p. 33. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "Save Moccasin Bend!" Save Moccasin Bend! Accessed October 27, 2014.
  5. ^ Lawrence Alexander,, “Moccasin Bend National Archeological District: Archeological Overview and Assessment, Vol. 1.” (Wildwood, GA: Alexander Archeological Consultants, Inc., 2010) 31-33.
  6. ^ National Park Service (April 2014). "Cultural Landscape Report, Introduction, Part I and II" (PDF). pp. 8–10. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  7. ^ Ibid.,14.
  8. ^ Deborah Fitts, Tennessee Will Give Moccasin Bend Land To NPS, July 2004, retrieved from website, September 30, 2009
  9. ^ National Park Service (April 2014). "Moccasin Bend Cultural Landscape Report Introduction, Part I, and II" (PDF). p. 37. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  10. ^ US News Retrieved 9 October 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ Gavin Townsend. ARRIS : The Journal of the Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, “Chattanooga’s First Modernist,” Volume 21, 2010.

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