Polk County was founded November 28, 1839 and formed from Bradley and McMinn counties. It was named in honor of James Knox Polk, then Governor of Tennessee and later the 11th President of the United States.
It is bounded on the north by McMinn and Monroe counties, on the east by North Carolina, on the south by Georgia, and on the west by Bradley County.
The greater part of Polk County is mountainous, and unfit for agricultural purposes. There are copper mines found in this county. They were developed many years ago, and have been worked with success.They are known as the Ducktown mines and are situated about forty miles from Cleveland, Tennessee. The mines are about two miles from the Ocoee River, in the midst of hills, surrounded by high mountains in the distance.
The principal ranges of these mountains lie between the copper mines and Benton, and traverse the county in a northeasterly and southwesterly direction, occupying, perhaps, more than half its area. Communities in Polk County include Benton, Copperhill, Delano, Ducktown, Ocoee, and Turtletown. Benton is the town seat. Ducktown and Turtletown were originally Cherokee settlements.
A very special Cherokee heritage site is located near the farm. Nancy Ward, the famed Beloved Woman of Chota, rests in a small hilltop cemetery overlooking the Ocoee River, where U.S. Highway 411 crosses near the ancient ford of the Warrior’s Path and the old Federal Road.
Ward, an important councillor and diplomat for the Cherokee Nation, spent her last days at a nearby inn within sight of this cemetery. During her long life (ca. 1738 – 1822), Ward witnessed profound changes in Cherokee culture, and was herself both innovator and conservator of Cherokee tradition.
Oral tradition indicates that Nancy Ward was born in the Overhill settlement of Chota around 1738, a niece of the ascendant leader Attakullakulla. She married Kingfisher (Tsula) around 1752, and bore two children before Kingfisher was killed in the 1755 battle of Taliwa against the Creeks. She was with Kingfisher when he fell, and picked up his gun to continue the fight until the Cherokees had won a decisive victory.
For her courage and tenacity, she was awarded the title of “War-Woman,” a distinction that gave her an influential voice in the Chota council.
In the upper reaches of the highlands, natural springs release pure natural essence down the mountain slopes. These waters gather themselves into streams that find their way to creeks, flowing along until they merge with mountain rivers as they journey across the land and out to sea.
The Ocoee is one of these river mountain rivers. Its headwaters descend from the high country of northern Georgia into southeastern Tennessee, weaving its rushing whitewater westward, down the Ocoee Gorge and into Lake Ocoee. This particular river has been a favorite to rafters, kayakers and canoeist since 1977.
The Tennessee Valley Authority purchased the power system in 1939. September 1976 the wooden flume was shut down for reconstruction and once again the river ran unabated.