Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fort Payne's Old Fort - A Reminder of the Trail of Tears

While many have heard of Fort Payne, Alabama - thanks largely to the success of the famous country music group Alabama and the growing popularity of nearby Little River Canyon National Preserve - far fewer are aware of how the city got its name.

There once really was a fort named Fort Payne. Built in 1838 at the site of the present city of the same name, it consisted of a rough log house or cabin surrounded by a log stockade. The U.S. Army was then engaged in forcing the Cherokee people west at bayonet point along the long and tragic Trail of Tears to new land in what is now Oklahoma. As the Alabama militia moved to support this operation, Captain James Rogers and 22 state militiamen built Fort Payne.

The fort was occupied only from April until October of 1838, but unlike most of the stockades thrown up at points where the Cherokee were concentrated for movement west, some traces of it can still be seen. A stone chimney and a few other stone ruins mark the site of the fort, which also lives on in the name of the modern city of Fort Payne.

To learn more of the story of the original Fort Payne, please visit