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Gone But Not Forgotten: The History and Influence of Port Royal Tennessee in the Red River Region

January 24, 2022


Along the banks of the Red River in Adams, TN sits the remnants of an influential, yet sometimes forgotten town: Port Royal. The town heritage is now stewarded by Tennessee State Parks. At only 30-acres, Port Royal State Park is the second smallest State Park in Tennessee but the area had a big and historic influence on our state. The town rose in prominence as an important commercial hub in the newly founded state of Tennessee. But you did not have to live in Port Royal to experience it. Businesses relied on Port Royal’s waterway connections to larger towns, enslaved people built the structures, and thousands of Cherokee were forcibly marched through the town as part of the Trail of Tears.

In this River Talk, we are joined by Port Royal State Park Ranger Bobby Cooley to explore the history and influence of Port Royal. Woven throughout the story of Port Royal is the influence of one waterway, the Red River, on the growth of the town.

Interested in visiting Port Royal? Check out our “Rendezvous on the Red” Basin Explorer guide to plan a day trip to Port Royal and other nearby sites.


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About Port Royal State Park:

Port Royal State Historic Park is a 30-acre State Park located near Adams, TN. The park explores the history and influence of the town of Port Royal from its founding in 1797 to the present day. Port Royal is also part of the National Trail of Tears Historic Trail.

Bobby Cooley is a Park Ranger at Port Royal State Park and also supports programs at nearby Dunbar Cave State Park.

In this Podcast:

  • The role of Port Royal in Tennessee statehood.
  • How tobacco helped Port Royal rise to prominence.
  • The influence of silk manufacturing on Tennesseeans and Port Royal.
  • The connection between Port Royal and the Red River.
  • How the town went from commerce to collapse.
  • The Trail of Tears in Tennessee and Port Royal.
  • The impact of the enslaved and formerly enslaved on the region.

Learn more about the resources mentioned in this episode: