The Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association (TOHA) began in 1990 when the southeastern Tennessee counties of McMinn, Monroe, and Polk were selected as a pilot area for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's "Heritage Tourism Initiative." At that time a diverse group of people, organizations, and government agencies serving the three counties came together to build a different kind of tourism program, one that honored local history, traditions, culture, and natural resources. Those early visionaries included museum directors, business owners, artists, outdoor enthusiasts, tourism professionals, managers of public lands, farmers, civic volunteers, and ordinary people who love this place they call home. T
The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development were the lead agencies for the Heritage Tourism Initiative, providing guidance through three years of training, planning, and project implementation. Upon completion of the pilot project period, TOHA became a permanent 501c3 not-for-profit organization. T
Why is the region called the "Tennessee Overhill?"
This region covers McMinn, Monroe and Polk counties in Southeast Tennessee, as well as the southern portion of the Cherokee National Forest. The organizers of the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Assoctiation named the region after the historic Overhill Cherokee towns that were here prior to statehood. Because the Historic Cherokee Settlements that were located in East Tennessee rested on the western slopes of the Appalachian Mountains, they were described as being "overhill" from the Carolina settlements. After consulting with Cherokee cultural specialists, "Tennessee Overhill" was deemed an appropriate name for the region.
To promote and preserve the natural and cultural resources of McMinn, Monroe and Polk counties through a cultural tourism program designed to:
- increase visitation to the region
- serve as an educational tool
- act as a catalyst for economic development
- strengthen local capacity