Port Royal State Historic Park was the site one of the earliest colonial communities and trading posts in Middle Tennessee. It was first settled in the early 1780s and was a longhunter camp as early as 1775. The town of Port Royal was founded in 1797 and rose to great prominence in the early part of the 19th century because of its strategic location at the head of navigation on the Red River, serving all of Northern Middle Tennessee and South Central Kentucky and at a major stage line route. In 1977, the state of Tennessee received the deed to 26 acres of land at Port Royal, and designated it a Tennessee State Park in 1978.
Port Royal is designated as an official site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. The Trail of Tears recognizes the forced removal of Native Americans from their homelands in the Southeastern United States and the paths they traveled westward in 1838 and 1839. Records of the removal mentioned Port Royal, the last stop before leaving Tennessee, as an encampment site where the Cherokee stayed overnight or longer to resupply and rest. Port Royal State Park is the second Tennessee State Park to be named an official site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, joining Red Clay State Historic Park.
With Port Royal being such an important place of travel, transportation themes play heavily into the parks and communities history. As you stroll through the park you will notice the remains of the foundations of stores, homes and warehouses with some dating back to the 18th century. Also, existing within the park are the remains of several old roadbeds, with one dating back to prehistoric times including the certified Trail of Tears site.
Preserved within the park is a very excellent example of an early Pratt Truss design steel bridge that was built in 1887. This bridge spans Sulphur Fork Creek and presents a very picturesque view of both the Red River and the Sulphur Fork Creek. This bridge is available to foot traffic only.
Port Royal State Historic Park includes ADA accessible restrooms and a picnic area with several tables, one being wheelchair accessible.