In September-October 2017, the Overmountain Victory Trail Association, the National Park Service, and the National Park Foundation partnered to bring over 10,000 youth to participate in the annual March to Kings Mountain along the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail (OVNHT).
The March to Kings Mountain commemorates the historic 1780 trek of the “Overmountain Men” from Abingdon, VA and Elkin, NC to search for and fight British Major Patrick Ferguson and his Loyalist troops during the American Revolution. The Overmountain Men’s campaign was successful as they soundly defeated Ferguson at the Battle of Kings Mountain—which is now a National Military Park and the southern terminus of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail.
Since the 1970s, groups of volunteers have gathered each September along the OVNHT in period clothing to walk the historic route of our Patriot forefathers to Kings Mountain. Many of these volunteers have lineage that traces back to the American Revolution and in some cases to the Battle of Kings Mountain. The volunteers have since organized into the Overmountain Victory Trail Association (OVTA) with the mission of “Keeping the Story Alive”. The OVTA were integral in pushing the legislation to make the OVNHT a National Historic Trail in 1980, and the first National Historic Trail in the eastern United States.
The OVTA continues to “Keep the Story Alive” as they conduct their annual march and reach thousands of children at the same time. The students are released early from school to be transported out to a section of the OVNHT in their community. Once they are on the trail, the students are treated to lively storytelling and historic demonstrations by members of the OVTA. The program is highly supported by the schools and communities; most of the schools spend several weeks prior to the annual march learning about the American Revolution and the Battle of Kings Mountain.
During the 2017 march, the OVTA and the NPS together reached 11,791 students and nearly 4,000 adults. The students were from 20 different counties along the trail corridor in four different states. The National Park Foundation provided funding to pay for the transportation costs of the students through the Every Kid in a Park grant. By nature of the trail’s rural location, most of these students would be considered at-risk. Prior to the event with the OVTA, many students are unfamiliar with the Overmountain Men, the Battle of Kings Mountain, or the OVNHT that is located right in their community.
The following is a quote from RG Absher, President of the OVTA. “Our over 100 OVTA members and historic re-enacators are to be commended for their outstanding role during the Annual March. It means so much to me to be a part of this movement we call the Annual March to Kings Mountain. Knowing that thousands of students and member of the public came out on the trail and connected with the history of the Campaign to Kings Mountain, gives our organization a great sense of purpose and boosts our ongoing challenge of Keeping the Story Alive."