The Legend of Eagle Down
While traveling across Monteagle Mountain I noticed that the signs of an old Indian story that my Grandfather once told me are still there alongside the roadway. Some of them even looked new.
My Grandfather told me of a beautiful Indian maiden of the Cherokee tribe who was betrothed to the son of the Great Chief who had built the stone forts on the west side of Monteagle Mountain. Eagle Down was known for her sharp features and soft copper colored skin. She was delicate and empathetic as young maidens were trained to be. However she also possessed the passion and tenacity of her namesake.
The stone carver’s son was a handsome lad who was also very clever in the ways of carving and stacking stones. His father proudly referred to him as a “chip of the old block.” He greatly respected his father and the traditions of the Indian tribe.
Eagle Down loved him greatly even though she was more progressive in her views. Her passion burned inside her and she did not understand why they needed to wait until the Summer Solstice to marry. She knew what she wanted and she wanted it right then.
On day in late spring her impatience and passion burned inside her. She began teasing her betrothed and questioning his virility. She went so far as to assert that his brother Pebbles might make a more suitable mate for her.
She walked off holding Pebbles arm but dashed off to her family’s hut when she was out of sight. The next morning she awoke and went looking for her betrothed. She was told he had gone hunting in the mountains. He planned to bring back a huge buck to prove his virility.
Eagle Down went out to the edge of the camp and waited. She waited all day for her betrothed. She began to wish she had not been so cruel in teasing him. She had only hoped to get his attention not send him on a fool’s mission.
At supper time her parents came to get her. She refused to move. She waited all night for him to return. When he did not return the next day, she decided to go looking for him. She had heard him talk about the large deer that grazed about the cliffs of Mount Eagle. She packed a bag and set out in search of him fearing that he may have been injured or was too embarrassed to come home with out a prize deer.
She searched and searched for him but could not find him. Eventually, she returned home to see if she had somehow missed him on the trail. She was told that if he did not return that she would marry Pebbles on the solstice instead. She slipped out in the night to continue her search.
After many days of searching, she was tired and hungry. She came across a settlement of white people in the forest. They took her in and taught her English. They agreed to help her in her search. They helped her make signs and placed them along the main paths, trails and eventually roadways.
These signs are still visible in the mountains today. As you travel, you will often see the bright yellow signs that Eagle Down put up in her search for her beloved son of Chief Rock Carver: “Watch for Falling Rock.”