Black and white photographs of Moccasin Bend National Archaeological District

Photographs of an American landscape continuously occupied for over 12,000 years

Moccasin Bend is the first and only national archaeological district in the United States. It gets its name because it's defined by a large bend in the Tennessee River, giving it a moccasin shape as seen on maps.

Currently part of the Chickamauga Military Park, efforts are underway to fund and protect numerous important sites. It has been designated as an archaeological district because of evidence that it has been continuously occupied for over 12,000 years. 

That time span covers the ancient Paleo-Indian period, the Mississippian and Woodlands periods, the American Indians, the plantation era, and the American Civil War. Several important archaeological sites have been endangered by looting, vandalism, and industrial development. Indian mounds are within the bounds of a mental institute on Moccasin Bend. Spanish artifacts have been uncovered at some sites, indicating contact from early Spanish explorers.

I chose to hike the beautiful Blue Blazes trail, and after a rainy spring, it was quite muddy, and still chilly enough to discourage mosquitos.

Difficult to photograph

None of the historic sites are open to visitation, so it was purely a landscape photography day. Wooded locations are notoriously tough to shoot effectively, because they tend to create messy, cluttered images, with lots of stray branches and other debris.

The challenge for a landscape photographer is to find close-ups, or dominant subjects to focus the viewers eye, while minimizing clutter.

Fine art photographs of Moccasin Bend

Wetland Reflections, black and white landscape photograph by Keith Dotson. Click to buy a fine art print.

Wetland Reflections, black and white landscape photograph by Keith Dotson. Click to buy a fine art print.

The Mighty, black and white landscape photograph by Keith Dotson. Buy a fine art print.

The Mighty, black and white landscape photograph by Keith Dotson. Buy a fine art print.

Pine Tree Bark abstract fine art photograph by Keith Dotson. Buy a print.

Pine Tree Bark abstract fine art photograph by Keith Dotson. Buy a print.

Pine Bark Abstraction Black and White Photograph

Pine Bark Abstraction Black and White Photograph. Buy a print.

Moccasin Bend Wetland, Black and White Landscape Photograph by Keith Dotson. Buy a fine art photograph.

Moccasin Bend Wetland, Black and White Landscape Photograph by Keith Dotson. Buy a fine art photograph

Tree Branch with Ferns, black and white photograph by Keith Dotson. Click to buy a print.

Tree Branch with Ferns, black and white photograph by Keith Dotson. Click to buy a print.

Black Tree on White Sky, black and white photograph by Keith Dotson. Click to buy a photograph.

Black Tree on White Sky, black and white photograph by Keith Dotson. Click to buy a photograph.

Watch the behind-the-scenes video photographed on location at Moccasin Bend 

In this video I take a photo hike through the Blue Blazes Hiking Trail at Moccasin Bend National Archaeological District, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This is the first designated archaeological district in the US, because of documented 12,000 years of continuous human habitation.

The video includes plenty of footage of the trail, and is set to the soundtrack of many songbirds in the forest.

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