Trail of Tears
Lookout Mountain, Alabama, Fort Payne, Mentone,
Annual John Benge Commemorative Motorcycle Ride
place the third Saturday in September.
Where: Fort Payne, Alabama
When: Third Saturday in September
Time: Depart Fort Payne at **7
The Trail of Tears was a tragic era of the
1830's that brought about the forced removal of Indians from their native lands in the
Southeastern United States. DeKalb County, Alabama was once home to the proud Cherokee
Nation who were placed on this trail against their will and sent to new homes in Oklahoma
Territory. One of the groups to depart from Fort Payne, the county seat once known as
Will's Town Mission for Indian Chief Red Head Will, was conducted by Cherokee leader John
Benge. He left present day Fort Payne with a contingent of 1,103 Cherokees for what would
become an arduous 734-mile trip. They departed Fort Payne on what is present day Highway
35 to the top of Sand Mountain, across Sand Mountain on present day Highway 75 to
Albertville, to present day Highway 431 to Gunters Landing, now Guntersville. There they
joined with others by crossing the river and facing hardships and sickness along the way.
It is estimated that 1 out of every 7 who walked the trail perished before making it to
"Fort Payne" was 1 of 5 stockades
built in Alabama and was the only internment camp in the state. Its construction was under
the command of Captain John Payne, who the Federal Government sent to lead the local
garrison of soldiers. At its completion it was named Fort Payne in honor of its commander.
The camp served as a holding place and an infirmary for Indians from this area as well as
others from neighboring Georgia and Tennessee.
A historical marker commemorating the Benge
Route now stands in front of the DeKalb Tourism building on Alabama
Highway 35 in Fort Payne. The John Benge Ride is in remembrance of those who walked this
trail and brings awareness to this tragedy.
We welcome you to join the ride
in commemoration of DeKalb County's Cherokee Indian Heritage and all Indian Nations who
were forced to walk on the Infamous Trail of Tears.
The ride is strictly voluntary
and you Ride At Your Own Risk. No Alcoholic Beverages Allowed.
For Information about the John Benge Commemorative
Motorcycle Ride visit