Monday, October 1, 2007

Fort Marr

Benton, Tennessee. Fort Marr, in my mind, has gone down during this project as one of those iconic if not ironic sites. The very first time I went looking for Fort Marr, I had no luck what so ever in finding it. Not even the locals at the corner gas station seemed to know of this piece of Tennessee history. I kept driving back and forth on Route 411 and nothing, no sign of it. Even my partner, whom I called numerous times on that frazzled day, was able to conjure directions to it from the Internet. That afternoon I came home completely frustrated.

A few weeks later, my partner decided to come with me on a second attempt and had he not been driving, we would have missed it completely. There it sat, on the grounds of the Polk County Jail, in an area almost hidden from traffic, as it sits lower than the road. But there it was. And it even had a large sign, facing the parking lot of the jail.

But, luck had it out for me. Those digital images disappeared. They vanished back into air as if I had never pressed the shutter.

Needing to go back to that area this winter, we made another pilgrimage and photographed it before the first little bit of snow fell on East Tennessee.

It is also my hope to journey back again and find the real site of the fort.

    • Latitude: 35.167298
    • Longitude: -84.659329
    • Off of Rt. 411, Benton, Tennessee 37307
    • Located on the grounds of the Polk County Jail (no signage off of Rt.411)
    • Not on original location
    • The origins of this fort are speculative. (1)
      • One perspective claims that it may have been built in the early 1800s as a military command post when a treaty with the Cherokees authorized the construction of a federal road from Georgia to Tennessee
      • Another perspective holds that it was built around 1814 when a road through the area was used to supply Andrew Jackson's army during a war with the Creek Indians.
    • The blockhouse was thought to be part of what was Fort Morrow, which became a stop-over to hold Cherokee's during the Cherokee Removal. (1)
    • In 1858, the blockhouse was moved to a local farm. (1)
    • In 1923, it was relocated to the Polk County High School grounds.(1)
    • 1965, it was relocated to its present site. (1)
    • Ft. Marr has gone by a few names throughout history: (1)
      • Fort Armor
      • Fort Morrow
    • What is left of Fort Marr is a two story block house made out of oak hewn wood. (2)
    • The second floor is twenty-four feet square and extends four feet out over the first floor. (2)
    • There are 72 gun apertures, of which riffles could be fired and second floor projections have holes cut in the floor so that occupants could shoot directly down on any attackers. (2)
    • There has been renovation to this structure, including a new roof. (1)
    • The part of the building's upper floor has been removed. (1)
  • CURRENT USAGE: Historic Site
  1. Tennessee Trail of Tears Association
  2. W.J.Marrs Personal History Site

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