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Siege at the Blockhouse ~ Natural Tunnel State Park VA

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Living History Sites covered the “Siege at the Wilderness Road Blockhouse” on May 30-31, 2009 at Natural Tunnel State Park in Southwest Virginia. On an absolutely beautiful, late spring day, we headed up the gently rolling Appalachian Mountains for what turned out to be a terrific event. 

It was non-stop action from the moment we got there. In fact, so much was going on, that we failed to actually tour the Blockhouse, and didn't realize it until we were half way down the mountain and home! It is good to save something for next year, we definitely want to revisit.

Revolutionary era reenactors in period dress, custom and manner delighted in giving a taste of pioneer life on the Western frontier in the 1760's. The reenactors engaged in various skits, reenacting scenarios that would have been familiar with those adventuring Americans who were ready to set out on the great Kentucky Road and the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail, to seek land, home and fortune "out west."

The Siege at the Blockhouse features reenactors, merchants and craftsmen, an Indian encampment and various trades of the Revolutionary War era. The area is absolutely breathtaking, with miles and miles of rolling Appalachian Mountains as far as the eye can see. A horse race mixed things up on Saturday, a recreation of an actual event at Sycamore Shoals, along with a shooting, which eventually led to the battle.

Atta Kula Kula, or The Little Carpenter, was a Cherokee Indian who told a riveting story of life before the American Revolution broke out. Atta Kula Kula's narrative began with his trip to England as a young teen, and what he learned about the English in their homeland. It expanded into how the American colonists acted with the Indians, offering an expansive view of the Native American side.

We were so interested to hear what he was saying, that we forgot to re-apply the sunscreen, and ended up burning to a crisp when his talk went long! Watch for that at the Blockhouse, there is very little shade.

The siege itself was staged against the background of the Blockhouse. Women were peacefully gathering berries, and were surprised by a raging warpath of Indians, who were there to revenge a killing. This erupted in a fierce battle between the frontiersmen, and the Indians. It was a superb battle re-enactment at Natural Tunnel Park. You are welcome to bring chairs to sit and watch the battle!

We learned such an appreciation for those brave people who forged their way through the forests of our nation at the Siege. 

A huge thanks to The Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Association for all of the information below! I searched everywhere to find schedule for the Siege at the Wilderness Road Blockhouse and here it is! 

Saturday, May 30, 2009 10 AM – 9 PM, Sunday May 31, 11 AM – 4 PM

Natural Tunnel State Park

The story that unfolds Saturday and Sunday , May 30-31 at the Blockhouse is set in the year 1775. Captain John Anderson of the Holston Militia has built a fortified home near the North fork of the Holston River. Daniel Boone has recently marked a path into Kentucky that will, over the next thirty years, be followed by hundreds of thousands of frontiersmen seeking to settle on America's frontier. Some of those travelers are camped near Anderson's home; and, nearby, some members of the Cherokee nation have come to trade. Throughout the day, please visit these areas to see life as it would have been in 18th century America west of the Appalachian mountains.

Don't miss the interpretive center at the State Park, which tells the story of the area, with maps and period displays. A few items were for sale in the museum/interpretive center, and bathrooms with real toilets and water were on the back side of the museum building (always a plus!) The weekend we were there, vendors selling hot dogs and sodas were on the back porch. You can also pack a picnic lunch to enjoy out in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. 

Living History Sites highly recommends this fabulous event! Remember to take your sunscreen and tell them the folks at LivingHistorySites.com sent you!

Natural Tunnel State Park is located in Scott County along U.S. Highway 23/58, between Clinchport and Duffield.

Natural Tunnel State Park
1420 Natural Tunnel Parkway
Duffield, VA 24244


2009 Siege at the Blockhouse Schedule for Saturday

10 Over Mountain Men Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution ceremony honoring Scott County patriots

11 Kentucky-bound settlers on horseback arrive Portrayed by members of the Scott County Regional Horse Association

11:30 Horse Race Frontiersmen and women ,and Native Americans gather to see who has the fastest horse. During this jollification, a hot-headed settler, Isaac Crabtree, murders one of the Cherokee with no cause. Turmoil erupts.

12 Daniel Boone instructs the settlers headed to Kentucky -The horse riders, upset and fearful because of the morning's events, decide to head on West. Boone gives them a talk about what to expect, and Rev. Samuel Doak offers prayer before they set out.

12:30 Atta Kulla Kulla, Cherokee Peace Chief (Inside the Interpretative Center) Robert Rambo, sponsored by the Kentucky Humanities Council, appears as Atta Kulla Kulla, also called Little Carpenter. He will interpret the Cherokee viewpoint of America's frontier in 1775, and the events unfolding today at the Blockhouse.

2 PM Siege!
The frontier encampment has settled into a mood of relaxation. A musician is playing, folks are dancing, eating, visiting. Some children slip off to pick berries. The angry and affronted Cherokee snatch one of them. Once again all is in an uproar. Shooting breaks out between the two camps, and a Native woman is captured. Captain Joseph Martin, who is present with the militia forces from Martin's Station, and Captain Boone conduct a parlay with Atta Kulla Kulla, Oconostota, and others. They agree to swap t he captured child, a sister of Goodwife Rebecca Anderson, for the Indian woman. At the last moment, the young girl states her intent to remain with the Cherokee, who treat her well. Once again, the frontier camp and the Anderson family are in a disturbed and violent mood.

3 Tomahawk Throw 18th Century Medicine French and Indian War Memories -Viewers can see a contest with tomahawks. A surgeon treats a wound inflicted during the earlier violence. A veteran of the late conflict with the French relates his experiences from the early 1760s

4-7:30 Visit the two encampments for a taste of life on the edge of civilization in 1775

7:30 Campfire Stories - Mark and Sherry Finchum, and Ron Short entertain visitors with stories, music, and dance from the two cultures that met on the frontier of 1775 Virginia

8:30 Night Battle - Oconostota (Mark fFnchum) has explained that he must return to the Native encampent for a special ceremonial occasion. Frontiersmen gathered around the story tellers at the campfire mistake the sounds from the ceremony for an attack and another battle erupts between the two camps.

Sunday's Schedule

11:00 Frontier Worship Service -Join a typical 18th century worship service next to the Blockhouse.

12:00 Sunday Social - The Anderson Family, the encamped frontiersmen, and Captain Joseph Martin and his Militia from Fort Blackmore to the West will give the visitors a good look and taste of life on the edge of civilization in 1775.
Goodwife Crouch prepares bread, using the bake oven.

1 :00 Children's Activities  -Children will enjoy participating in games and playing with toys from the period. Ron Short will provide stories and music.

2 :00 Frontier Justice and Freedom - See a militia drill. Isaac Crabtree, the instigator of Saturday's violence will be brought to justice. Captain Martin's talk, “Freedom,” expresses the attitudes found west of the mountains concerning the colonies' present conflict with Great Britain and its unreasonable demands.