‘We’re just trying to piece all that information together’: K9s sniff out history at Rocky Fork State Park


UNICOI COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL)– Rocky Fork State Park spans over 2,000 acres in Unicoi County with some beautiful trails, but the park is also known for its history.

The park sits on the same land where the Flint Creek Battle took place in 1789.

News Channel 11’s Kristen Gallant hiked the trails Monday as a group of people and trained K9s worked to uncover evidence from the historic battle site.

Monday was the first time the K9s were at Rocky Fork State Park to help find a piece of history.

“There was a historic battle with John Sevier,” said Mark Adams with the Unicoi County Search and Rescue Team, “John Sevier and his men marched roughly 25 miles to what we now know as Rocky Fork State Park.”

Previous searches have uncovered signs of a battle in the area, including old camp sites and hot spots of ammunition fire.

More than 200 years later, there’s now an effort to document burial sites.

“Today we’ve come up in an attempt to locate the battle site that, legend has it, 140 Indians were killed on this site,” said Adams.

The Unicoi County Search and Rescue Team is doing so with the help of the Tennessee Special Response Team A, which is comprised of four-legged friends who are specifically trained as human remains detection dogs.

“This is a multifaceted team from different areas through Tennessee,” said Marie Rice, who’s a county commissioner and member of the Friends of Rocky Fork State Park.

Some of these K9s have years of experience and others are just starting out, but their job remains the same.

“Help the park understand what happened, help the state of Tennessee understand what happened because it’s all our story, and the more we learn the better we can tell it and understand it,” explains Park Ranger, Tim Pharis.

The dogs may just do this for a reward but their handlers know how important this job is to tell a part of history.

“It’s a great park and it’s a young park, and there’s a lot of history here, and we’re just trying to piece all that information together and get things established and find out more about Rocky Fork State Park,” said Rice.

All of these dogs have or are working towards their National Association for Search and Rescue Certification which takes about 18 months to two years to be complete.

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