Women’s History Trail Discussed by Franklin Town Council

Under the umbrella of the Folk Festival Association of Macon County, the Women’s History Trail has been working to create a “pathway” for the public to experience Macon County history through different eyes. The vision for the trail is to create a “walk in her steps” to honor the accomplishments of the area’s foremothers. The Women’ History Trail committee is currently networking with other existing and emerging trails to create a new designation attraction for Franklin, Macon County and the region.

“The Women’ History trial will recognize the struggle and triumphs of our foremothers and illuminate hidden aspects of our history,” said Barbara McRae. “We are hoping the trail will bring the community together, by recognizing all the diverse women who have helped to make us what we are: white mountaineers, Cherokees and blacks, newcomers and natives.

The Women’s History Trail is envisioned as a walking trail through town, from the Little Tennessee River, through downtown, to Ray’s Chapel on Green Street. Along the trail, sites that were associated with activities important to women, or to a particular worthy woman, will be marked with bronze plaques. The group is in the process of identification of initial sites to be marked and interpreted along the trail. Plans for phase one of the trial will be to place bronze markers at 13 locations downtown as a portion of the trail.

People will be able to relive the history of local women and the community by walking the trail and reading the plaques. In addition, the trail will provide educational opportunities for guided tours for school children and the public. In addition, special events may be staged at certain sites.

Places the trail committee would like to recognize on the trail include a retail space associated with the milliners who worked in downtown around the turn of the 20th century and an inn associated with women in the hospitality industry in which women ran boarding houses, inns and restaurants.

Public art will be a major focus of the trail including possible future projects such as murals, sculptures and photo displays. The Women’s History Trail group has also identified an ambitious project to raise money to commission a public sculpture for a possible location near the river and the Indian mound. The proposed sculpture would depict three women representing Cherokee, white and black matriarchal figures who lives were intertwined with each other and the mound. The committee hired Cashiers sculptor Wesley Wofford to create a design maquette for the piece.

The planned sculpture, which will possibly located near the town bridge downtown in what is considered the Gateway to Franklin, will mark the beginning of the Women’ History Trail.