Trail of Tears Water Route


The Trail of Tears: the Water Route

Three detachments from the Cherokee Nation came west by the Water Route. They were taken from the gathering camps and placed on boats in the Chattanooga area. They continued down the Tennessee River until they came to Muscle Shoals. Here they were placed on the railroad and carried around the shoals where they boarded boats for the trip down river. They simply continued down the Tennessee River to the Ohio, then down to the Mississippi to the Mouth of the Arkansas River. It was tricky here, because of shallow water. So they usually entered the White River Chute at Montgomery Point, worked their way around Big Island and re-entered the Arkansas River for their journey upstream to Ft. Gibson. While this sounds rather simple, it was not -- because sand bars, snags, and low water (especially after Point Remove which was well upstream from Little Rock) made navigation all the way to Ft Gibson impossible for some. They were then forced to disembark and find other means of transportation to Indian Territory.


Water Route of the Trail of Tears


Information on this page was provided courtesy of Bill Woodiel, past Vice-President of the Arkansas Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association and a former member of the Board of Directors for the National Trail of Tears Association.

Review Bill Woodiel's comments explaining what brought about the Cherokee Removal.
Read his description of each of the four major routes:
1. Northern
2. Water [this page]
3. Bell
4. Benge
For additional maps and information:
> > E-mail Bill Woodiel at:

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Copyright ©2002-2004, by Beverly Whitaker, MA