Big Spring in joins the Trail of Tears as designated site

Princeton, Kentucky (AP) 7-09

Another western Kentucky area has joined the Trail of Tears .

The Paducah Sun reports Mayor Gale Cherry and members of the National Park Service recently signed an agreement recognizing Big Spring Park as one of the many settlements in Kentucky that hosted members of the Cherokee tribe as it made its way from Georgia to Oklahoma in 1838-39.

Big Spring joins other designated Trail stops at Mantle Rock in Livingston County, Gray’s Inn in Guthrie, Radford Park near Pembroke and the Trail of Tears Commemorative Park in Hopkinsville.


Historians studied journals and numerous other items – including a receipt for a child’s coffin and yards of material – before presenting the information to the Park Service.

“We always knew that during the removal that the Cherokees had come through this area,” said Barbara Gillihan, president of the Caldwell County chapter of the Trail of Tears Association. “We had to have proof that they stopped here. They came through in 12 groups, or about 16,000 total.” 

The park service and the city will cooperate on planning and signs for the property, which will continued to be owned by the city.

Big Spring will be listed on the National Park Service’s Web site and in its publications about the trail. The signs marking the area as a certified stop on the Trail of Tears are expected to arrive in four to six months.

Officials hope the designation will be a boon to local tourism.

George Coon Library director Judy Boaz said the Cherokees likely stopped in Big Spring because of the quiet, restful feeling that permeates the park. A house sat on a bluff overlooking the park at the time of the Trail of Tears.