National Register of Historic Places
TN-60 at the Tennessee River, Birchwood, TN
Blythe Ferry was established at the confluence of the Hiwassee and Tennessee Rivers in 1809 by William Blythe and his Cherokee wife Nancy Fields. The ferry was an important river crossing along the “Great Road” (aka Kiuka War Trace) between present-day Chattanooga and Knoxville. Nine of 13 detachments of Cherokee and Creek people traveled to Blythe Ferry from present-day Charleston, Tenn., during the Trail of Tears. They had traveled from the present site of Charleston, Tenn., which at the time was “Fort Cass,” serving as the military operational headquarters for the entire Cherokee Removal. Their route from Charleston to Blythe Ferry followed portions of current roadways, including Lower River Rd. and Blythe Ferry Lane and is marked today with Trail of Tears signs. Water levels were very low due to a severe drought, so approximately 9,000 people camped at the ferry site for up to six weeks waiting to cross the Tennessee River. William Blythe went west with his Cherokee wife. Blythe Ferry operated at the site until 1994 when the TN-60 bridge was built.