Tugaloo Bend
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Tugaloo Bend Recent History

River Cane Project - Credit: The Toccoa Record (April 7,2022)

Tugaloo Bend Park is adding another glimpse  into how the Cherokee  Native Americans lived  their everyday lives. The Stephens County  Foundation, in partnership  with the Savannah District  of the Army Corps of  Engineers (USACE), the  Eastern Band of Cherokee  Indians and the Cherokee  Nation, is developing a  River Cane Demonstration  Area at Tugaloo Bend Park  off Yonah Dam Road.  A Corps of Engineers  crew, aided by familiar  Tugaloo Bend Park mascot  Buddy, planted river cane  during a workday staged  last month. 

 

The river cane project  will enhance restoration of  an ecologically and culturally significant  native plant species and  depict how it grew in this  area more than 200 years ago. Canebrakes once  covered large areas of the  Southeastern United  States.  

 

It is estimated that less than 2 percent of native  cane species remain today  in this critically endangered ecosystem.   The plant is significant  to Native American communities, and in the  past extensive canebrakes were created either through systemic burning or agriculture for material  and cultural uses. 

 

Restoration of river cane has ecological and wildlife benefits as well.  River cane provides  habitat for a variety of  songbirds, particularly  warblers and vireos.  Restoration of native canes will enhance habitat and corridors for wildlife movement as well as  provide a source of cane for  the Cherokee Nation. 

 

River cane is used by the  Cherokee to create baskets, blowguns, flutes,  sleeping mats, and arrows.  The Eastern Band of  Cherokee Indians have  expressed interest in  restoration of river cane for use by tribal artisans  and for interpretive purposes.  

 

For many years, local  resident Ray Ward supplied river cane from  his property to the  Eastern Band for use in  making authentic cultural  objects.  The project at Tugaloo  Bend can provide cane to renew that arrangement,  along with an opportunity for park visitors to learn  about the value of river  cane.  

 

Though it will be  several years before the  cane matures, its progress  will be visible to people  walking along the river on  the Noyowee Trail. 

 

Tugaloo Bend Park is open to visitors at 2104  Yonah Dam Road.  There are picnic tables  and benches along the  river trails.  The park also features a  pavilion, outdoor kitchen  and restrooms. Handicap parking and a paved trail accessible to all is adjacent to the pavilion  area.

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Corps of Engineers river cane work crew members were  (from left) Jeff Brooks, Sandy Campbell, Jason Whiting,  Tim Crabtree, Dustin Cullen and Buddy the dog

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Stephens County Foundation University
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The “Stephens County Foundation University” is an entity created to bring educational experiences to the community.  Numbers of volunteers, many of them retired teachers, have brought their knowledge and skills to Tugaloo Bend, as we offer an increasing number of educational opportunities to students and adults alike. 

During several days in October 2017, both the sixth grade and the eighth grade from Stephens County Middle School were involved in study activities at Tugaloo Bend.  These activities were coordinated with the current curriculum of the classes, and were led by volunteers who are members of the Stephens County Foundation University faculty.  There were approximately 600 students participating in the activities, over 6 separate days.

Sixth grade students were involved in sessions centering around the natural surroundings of the area, the plants and animals found there, as well as lessons on the soils and effects of erosion in the area.

Eighth grade students were there to learn about the history of the area, both Native American and later periods.  These students had the opportunity to experience the “Wattle and Daub” construction methods of the Cherokee peoples, by participating in a “hands on” session, partially constructing a frame dwelling similar to that in which the Cherokees lived.  The “daub” material consists of red mud and straw.  The students seemed to particularly enjoy getting their hands dirty as they participated in this activity.

Persons who would like to know more about “the University” and who are interested in participating should call 706. 282. 7636.

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Tour de Bend Bike & Hike

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In 2015 & 2016 , the Tour de Bend was held in conjunction with the Tour de Tugaloo Benefit Bicycle Ride. 

 

This family friendly event featured a 2- mile bicycle ride from Yonah Dam Park to the Tugaloo Bend Heritage Park site. Participants went on a nature hike followed by a history lesson around the camp fire along with s'mores, of course!

 

Participants then cycled back to Yonah Dam Park for lunch and took part in the festivities of the Tour de Tugaloo.