Michael Hodge

photo: Michael Hodge

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Overview

Long before the arrival of the first settlers, Native Americans lived along the Holston River Valley in what is now Panther Creek State Park. The area was a favorite hunting ground for Native Americans and a village for early settlers. It was an early explorer named Colonel Bradley, legend says, who gave the name to Panther Creek and Panther Springs. Bradley claimed he shot a panther, which then fell into the spring. A 1939 WPA Guide to Tennessee noted that near the spring was a rock with a depression in which early settlers ground corn into meal with the aid of a heavy pestle attached to a beam propelled by the current of the stream. The ...

Long before the arrival of the first settlers, Native Americans lived along the Holston River Valley in what is now Panther Creek State Park. The area was a favorite hunting ground for Native Americans and a village for early settlers. It was an early explorer named Colonel Bradley, legend says, who gave the name to Panther Creek and Panther Springs. Bradley claimed he shot a panther, which then fell into the spring. A 1939 WPA Guide to Tennessee noted that near the spring was a rock with a depression in which early settlers ground corn into meal with the aid of a heavy pestle attached to a beam propelled by the current of the stream. The pounding mill was slow but it worked. Today, the springs still exist but Panther Creek village is long gone with only forgotten headstones and fading foundations from old farms as reminders. The park itself honors the early history of the valley.

Located on the Morristown side of Cherokee Lake, the 1,435-acre park was created when the state of Tennessee began acquiring local farmland in 1965. Cherokee Lake Reservoir was created as an impoundment of the Holston River. Resting in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains — only 45 miles south — Panther Creek State Park is a rustic park with commercial marinas, boat launch, campgrounds, swimming pool, playgrounds, sports fields, tennis courts, hiking trails and biking trails. Horse riders appreciate Panther Creek because it offers seven miles of horse trails with more under construction. Bring your own horse and enjoy the serene beauty of the trails. Seems appropriate for a place with such a long Native American and early settler history.

Jackie Finch
About the Expert

Jackie Sheckler Finch has written several guidebooks, including The Unofficial Guide to Campgrounds in the Great Lakes States, and four times she was named Travel Writer of the Year by Midwest Travel Writers Association.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Located in north east Tennessee, about 30 miles from Knoxville.
  • Research: Wikipedia
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Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring to see wildflowers and budding trees