Boone Bear Tree historical marker.

Site of the Last Boone Bear Tree

Field review by the editors.

Gray, Tennessee

Daniel Boone gets confused with Davy Crockett, who came along later and led a life more appealing to Hollywood scriptwriters. So why do we remember Daniel Boone? Mostly because of his coonskin cap, but also because he killed bears. Many, many bears. We know this because Daniel Boone would often carve his name and the date into a nearby tree when he killed one.

Boone carving a tree.

"Boone Bear Trees" became one of America's earliest tourist attractions. They were considered honorable relics for the towns that had them. This, of course, led to counterfeit Boone Bear Trees, while the real ones gradually grew old and died. The last known survivor stood in northeast Tennessee, on the slope of Carroll Creek, near the town of Jonesborough.

Its inscription, about six feet off the ground, was "D. Boon CillED A. BAr on tree in the YEAR 1760."

But vandals and morons eventually obliterated the inscription with their own names, and in 1920 the tree, estimated to be over 350 years old, fell down in a storm.

That was not the end of the last Boone Bear Tree. Some of its wood was fashioned into gavels that were used in the Jonesborough county courthouse. And in 1924 the Daughters of the American Revolution erected a monument on the site where the tree once stood. Although a nearby historical marker mentions the tree, the monument inexplicably does not -- maybe the town was embarrassed by its sloppy stewardship. But everyone in the area knows it as the monument to the Boone Bear Tree.

Boone Trail Monument.

Also see: Men Vs. Bears

Site of the Last Boone Bear Tree

Address:
Old Gray Station Rd, Gray, TN
Directions:
I-26 exit 17. Drive north on Boones Creek Rd for one mile. Turn left onto Old Gray Station Rd. Drive about three-quarters of a mile. You'll see a 30 mph yellow road sign with a squiggly road symbol. Just past this, on the left, is a white fence marking an entrance to a gravel driveway. Turn left into the driveway (property of Roger Carter, please be respectful). Drive a quarter-mile, straight in. You'll see a gray building on the left. Drive just past it, then park on the left. To the left you'll see trees and a small wooden bridge. Walk across the bridge, then follow the path up the wooded hillside to the monument.
Admission:
Free
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Grave of First Dead White Man in TennesseeGrave of First Dead White Man in Tennessee, Johnson City, TN - 3 mi.
Gray Fossil Dig SiteGray Fossil Dig Site, Gray, TN - 4 mi.
Junaluska and the Arch of FriendshipJunaluska and the Arch of Friendship, Johnson City, TN - 5 mi.
In the region:
Hillbilly Moose, Asheville, NC - 59 mi.

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April 20, 2018

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