De Soto Trail Marker, Franklin
The De Soto Trail Marker is a simple bronze tablet inset into a large stone that is roughly in the shape of a rectangle. The symbol for the National Society of Colonial Dames appears above the inscription.
Images: View of the marker along the Little Tennessee River Greenway | Inscription
DESOTO TRAIL / NEAR THIS SPOT IN 1540 / HERNANDO DESOTO AND / HIS MEN CROSSED THIS / STREAM WHICH FLOWS / INTO THE WATERS OF / THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER.
ERECTED BY THE / NATIONAL SOCIETY OF COLONIAL DAMES / OF AMERICA IN NORTH CAROLINA
June 26, 1940
35.186380 , -83.373050 View in Geobrowse
Coughlin, Ellen K. “The De Soto Expedition,” NCPedia.org, (accessed October 6, 2021) Link
Miles, Suzannah Smith. “The Price of Gold,” WNC Magazine (Asheville, NC), January 2009, (accessed October 6, 2021) Link
“Colonial Dames Unveil De Soto Trail Marker,” Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC), June 27, 1940
“De Soto Trail Marker,” Pedal Pirates Cycle Crew, Hike and Bike America, hikeandbikeamerica.wordpress.com, (accessed September 10, 2021) Link
“Macon County Monuments, Marker and Plaques,” North Carolina Colonial Dames, www.ncdames.org, (Accessed October 6, 2021) Link
“The Contact Period in North Carolina,” Research Laboratories of Archaeology, UNC-Chapel Hill, http://rla.unc.edu, (accessed October 6, 2021) Link
National Society of Colonial Dames in North Carolina
The marker unveiling highlighted a celebration of the quadri-centennial of Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto’s journey through western North Carolina. Other events of the day included a motorcade and a pageant, “Waters Flowing West,” written for the celebration by Edith Russell of Asheville. John Temple Graves II of Birmingham, Alabama was the featured speaker. Thad Eure, NC Secretary of State accepted the marker on behalf of the state.
In 1940 the Colonial Dames of North America placed a series of markers along what was believed to the trail taken by De Soto. The approximate route extending through portions of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana. Although there is no real consensus on his route through North Carolina most historians and archaeologists now believe that De Soto’s path through western North Carolina was further east and north of Macon County.
The marker is located at the entrance to Big Bear Park on the Little Tennessee River Greenway, Franklin, NC.
The marker stand on grass under shady tress.
It is not certain that the present location along the Little Tennessee River Greenway is the original location. A news article for the dedication states that it was placed near the Franklin Bridge over the Little Tennessee River.