Virtual Success: Overmountain Victory NHT

by Tom Vaughan, Treasurer, Overmountain Victory Trail Association

In the words of Robert Burns: “… In proving foresight may be vain: The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley, An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!”

Our best laid plans went astray in 2020, and it HURT! That is, until we took a deep breath, looked at each other and said ‘This is the opportunity we have been waiting on!’ 

For years we had been talking about developing a series of videos that told the Story of the Overmountain Men and their trek along what is now the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail. We tell the Story in-person to well over 25,000 people each year, including over 15,000 youth. 

Our group of reenactors will go about anywhere, any time to tell how we won the Revolutionary War, but we are limited, both in available program time, audiences, and personal time. And now, we couldn’t present nearly as many programs due to Covid-19 restrictions, so we set about to make videos.

Our first thought was just to tell the Story of the Overmountain Men. We soon realized we could tell a much broader story of frontier life, key people such as Mary Patton and Mrs. McDowell, and those left behind, in addition to the commanders. The first video we released had over 5000 views in just a few days! We had a new audience–over 50,000 and counting!

We have now produced over 20 videos, with most in the 5–7-minute time range, with plans for at least 20-30 more, and are coordinating with Standards-of-Learning. We are setting up a YouTube channel which will be available to teachers year-round to draw upon in support of classroom needs.


by William Caldwell, Park Guide, Overmountain Victory NHT

Over the course of 2020 and into 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic presented two large challenges to “traditional” interpretive programs for the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail (OVNHT): the inability to provide staff for in-person hikes and talks, and a growing number of people choosing to explore the OVNHT as a way of recreating safely in outdoor spaces. 

The National Park Service staff sought to accommodate the growing number of trail users virtually through social media with a number of video programs from Park Rangers, informative posts highlighting trail sections and their accessibility, and video interviews with historians diving deeper into the story behind the OVNHT and its role in the American Revolution. In 2020 alone, 159 virtual programs were shared through social media resulting in over 160,000 viewers learning more about the story of the trail and how they can safely access and enjoy the recreational opportunities offered along the 330-mile trail corridor. 

These programs have plans to continue into 2021, educating virtual viewers of the many opportunities to safely explore the OVNHT and connect, not only with nature, but with the rich story that took place nearly 250 years ago.