In June of 1838 over 5,000 Cherokee were moved down the Tennessee River on flatboats on what is known at the “Trail of Tears” to the deep water port in Waterloo, Ala. where they embarked a steamboat and moved on out west to their government assigned reservation in Oklahoma.

That year was drought-stricken, and the Tennessee River was too low to continue moving the Cherokee on flatboats. There were over 12,000 Cherokee still at the concentration camp near Ross’ Landing in what is now Chattanooga. Many were sick with dysentery and getting unruly, so the government hired a wagon master. J. C. S. Hood decided to march 1,070 poorly equipped Cherokee overland on June 17, 1838 from Ross’ Landing through Jasper, Tenn. that follows closely to what is now Highway 72, right through Bridgeport, Florence, then to Waterloo.
Near Woodville, about 300 Cherokee rebelled and escaped into the mountains near the Paint Rock River. U. S. Army Captain Gus Drane was assigned to escort the remaining Cherokee on to Waterloo. When the Cherokee arrived in Waterloo on July 8 , 1838 they were in miserable condition, and several had died. The remaining Cherokee embarked on the steamboat, the Smelter, and travel via rivers on to Oklahoma.
This year will be the 26th annual Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride. This ride was founded to educate the public and raise awareness of this dark chapter in America’s history. The TOTCMR has raised hundreds of thousands of dollar through the donations for t-shirts and other collectible items and installed hundreds of trailblazer signs, historical plaques, the Sacred Tear Bronze monument in Spring Park in Tuscumbia, Ala. and scholarships for American Indian students. This ride has also generated millions of dollars to the local economies through tourism economic benefits.
The official route of the TOTCMR designated by Alabama legislation 95-346, passed as a joint-house resolution and signed into law July 13, 1995 by Alabama Gov. Fob James. The following is a local schedule. For the full schedule, go to
Always the third weekend in September, riders will leave Cherokee, NC at 8 a.m. EST, Friday, Sept. 20, then leave Ross’s Landing at 3 p.m. and arrive in Bridgeport at 3 p.m. CST. There is no charge to ride.
At 3:15 p.m. in Bridgeport, Mayor David Bubba Hughes will hold the welcome and opening ceremony; prayer will be conducted by the Christian Motorcycle Association; TOT President Ike Moore will present the Spirit of America Award to an American Indian who served in the Armed Forces in the U.S.A.
At 4 p.m. there will be the presentation of Miss Indian Alabama and Barney Fife; national anthem by Riley Lambert and the Sequatchie Valley Honor Guard
Stillbrook will be in concert at 5 p.m. and at 6 p.m. the first $500 drawings of four begins every hour. At 7 p.m. $500 drawings DJ will be spinning records; VIP meet and greet with Exile. At 8 p.m. $500 drawings - the band Exile will perform; and a street dance will be held. Another drawing will be held at 9 and 10 p.m.
Admission is free, and there will be many food and other vendors. There will be VIP seats sold for the Exile concert with a back stage photo session with the Exile band members for the VIP’s. VIP tickets can be obtained for $20 ahead of events by contacting Randall Gibson 256 608-9542. Tickets for a giveaway of $500 every hour from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. are a $10 donation. This is a family event, and there will be no cost for entering. There will be a bounce house and other things for the kids, along American Indian demonstrations.
Jerry Shadow Wolf Davis, founder of the ride, will be unveiling and signing his new book about the history of the Trail of Tears and the motorcycle ride, entitled RIDING TO REMEMBER – THE TRAIL OF TEARS MOTORCYCLE RIDE . The author will be taking orders and signing copies at 2:30 p.m. at the event in downtown Bridgeport.
On Saturday, Sept. 21 the lineup for Saturday’s Motorcycle Ride to Waterloo is at 6 a.m. CST through 8 a.m. Departing at 8 a.m. CST from downtown Bridgeport to Redstone Harley Davidson for a lunch break. In Bridgeport, the Lions Club will sponsor a breakfast for a $5 donation at the beginning of the ride starting at 6 a.m. at the Community Center downtown.
For more information check Trail of Tears on Facebook, the web or call (678) Ride TOT.

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