Skip Navigation


header dropnav

Trail of Tears National Historic Trail


In 1838, the United States government forcibly removed more than 16,000 Cherokee Indian people from their homelands in Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, and Georgia, sending them on a long, and, for many, deadly march to “Indian Territory” in what is today Oklahoma. This tragic chapter in American and Cherokee history became known as the Trail of Tears, today commemorated as a 4,900-mile National Historic Trail crossing nine states, including Kentucky. Kentucky‘s section of the trail is found in Western Kentucky and includes four recognized sites: Gray‘s Inn in Guthrie, a stagecoach inn where Cherokee Indians camped on the grounds while traveling the main (northern) land migration route during the 1838-39 relocation; Mantle Rock, in Joy, Kentucky, where thousands of Cherokee camped for weeks as they waited for ice conditions in the Ohio River to allow a safe crossing; Radford Farm, near Pembroke and Trenton, which witnessed the passage of Cherokee detachments; and Trail of Tears Commemorative Park in Hopkinsville, located on land used as an encampment in 1838 and 1839 and the burial site of Fly Smith and Whitepath, two Cherokee chiefs who died during the removal.

Closeup: Kentucky’s Trail of TearsFor the Classroom: Artistic Interpretations and More

Trail of Tears Web site