The Southeast Tennessee Religious Heritage Trail is also known as the Glory Land Road Trail. It is a new driving tour that highlights the region’s unique blend of history and religion. Religious sites are largely Christian, Native American and include a Jewish Holocaust Shrine. Churches, historical sites, colleges, schools, old cemeteries, museums and church headquarters are included on the trail.
Since the trail is new, visitors will have to create a map for themselves. The entire tour goes through ten counties. You will enjoy wooded areas, flatlands and mountains. Some sites are clustered together which makes visiting easier.
Visitors may also choose to tour the Southeast Tennessee Religious Heritage Trail in stages. In all there are 28 sites spread throughout 10 different counties. History buffs and families may enjoy the tour. There are plenty of places to picnic, get gas and stop along most of the route.
Not every site is open to the public. Some have to be viewed from the road. College locations may require a parking permit. None of the sites on the list have a parking fee although many sites welcome donations.
There are 28 sites in all on the Glory Land Road Southeast Tennessee Religious Heritage Trail. You can request a brochure from the Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association. The website lists many interesting historic sites.
Each of the cities listed below have several trail sites. Here is a list of some of this author’s top choices.
Pick #1 Glory Land Road Southeast Tennessee Religious Heritage Trail
In the Chattanooga area the Brainerd Mission is one of my favorite stops. This is on the parking lot of Eastgate Mall so interstate access is easy. Look for the wooded area on the north side of the mall. You can’t easily miss the tall oak trees. The graves of missionaries and Native Americans are enclosed in the cemetery. It’s a small quiet place in the midst of all the commercialism and construction in the area.
Pick #2 Glory Land Road Southeast Tennessee Religious Heritage Trail
Silverdale Confederate Cemetery
This small cemetery is located off of I-75 Exit 7. It contains the graves of approximately 150 soldiers who died during the Civil War. One of the most striking features is the large stone gate and wall on the front of the cemetery.
Pick #3 Glory Land Road Southeast Tennessee Religious Heritage Trail
Red Clay State Historical Park
Admission: $3 per car
For six short years Red Clay Historical Park was the site of the capital of the Cherokee National. The Trail of Tears ended that in 1838. After relocating from Georgia the Cherokee lived, worked and worshipped at this site. This was the last place they gathered before beginning the long march of the Trail of Tears.
A spring on the property forms a narrow creek. The spring is the source of several legends. One of which is that the Native Americans threw their last valuable possessions into the spring before being forced to leave.
Red Clay is several miles from the interstate but it is worth the drive to enjoy the beauty of the area.
Pick #4 Glory Land Road Southeast Tennessee Religious Heritage Trail
Rhea County Courthouse
Scopes Trial Museum
This site is on Highway 12 but is not near the interstate. Tourists will want to include plenty of travel time (this author suggests half a day at minimum) to get to the stop. The Rhea County Courthouse is where teacher John T. Scopes was convicted for the crime of teaching students about evolution. This decision was later overturned on a technicality. The trial has been called the “Scopes Trial”, “Money Trial” and the “Scopes Evolution Trial”. The historic Rhea County Courthouse is open from 9:00 – 5:00 Monday through Friday.
These are just a few of the many sites along the Glory Land Road Southeast Religious Heritage Trail. If you decide to explore the trail take your time, relax and enjoy the journey.
Southeast Tennessee Tourism