Port Royal State Park
Port Royal State Historic Park is a 26 acre (105,000 m²) historic area on the border of Montgomery and Robertson counties in Tennessee. The historic community of Port Royal is its namesake. The Red River runs through the center of the park, and the covered bridge at Port Royal once crossed it. The park was established to preserve the elements of early Tennessee history, namely settlement and early transportation, as well as the heritage of the Trail of Tears.
Port Royal was the site one of the earliest colonial communities and trading posts in middle Tennessee, being first settled in the early 1780s as well as being a Longhunter camp as early as 1771. In the years 1838 and 1839, the town of Port Royal served as a stopover and resupply station for the Cherokee Indians along the march to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears and was the last of such in Tennessee on the northern route of the Trail of Tears. Port Royal State Park preserves several sections of the original roadbed used by the Cherokee and one section is an officially designated roadbed by the National Park Service. Being situated at an important junction of roads and rivers, Port Royal became the only stop on the "Great Western Road" stagecoach line between Nashville, Tennessee, and Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and served as such until the 20th century. In 1977, the State of Tennessee received the deed to 26 acres (105,000 m²) of land at Port Royal, and designated it a State Historic Park in 1978.
Features of Port Royal State Park
With Port Royal being such an important place of travel, transportation themes play heavily into the parks and communities history. Existing within the park are the remains of several old roadbeds, with one dating back to prehistoric times and one a certified Trail of Tears site.
Preserved within the park is an excellent example of an early Pratt truss design steel bridge being built in 1887. This bridge spans the Sulphur Fork Creek and is well preserved. The bridge is available to foot traffic only.
There are also the remains of a covered bridge that was damaged during a flood during the early 2000s. Due to a lack of funding, the bridge was never repaired. This bridge dates from 1978 and was a 75% scale recreation of a bridge from 1904. This bridge is not accessible to the public but one can see the remains of the stone piers, which are original to the 1904 bridge. The stone in the piers originally came from the Port Royal Mills and dam which dates back to circa 1800.
In addition to roads and bridges, you will see as you stroll through the park, the remains of the foundations of stores, homes and warehouses with some dating back to the 18th century.
Every October Port Royal State Park holds a Trail of Tears Commemorative event which features a re-enactment of the march on the old roadbed as well as living history demonstrations of 1830s life. Also featured are exhibits on the Trail of Tears and Port Royals role in the sad event. Contact the park for information on the specific days and times.
- Official State of Tennessee website for Port Royal State Park
- Port Royal - TN History for Kids, park details and photos