J. Huston McCulloch

Plowed into oblivion by farmers, Bat Creek Mound No. 3 once stood somewhere on or near this spit of land, which juts into Lake Tellico in Loudon County, Tennessee, about 40 miles south of Knoxville. In 1889, Smithsonian Institution excavator John W. Emmert opened the undisturbed, 5-foot-high, 28-foot-wide mound—the smallest of a group of three—and found nine skeletons lying in two rows. Seven skeletons, all facing south, lay in one row, and two skeletons, one facing south, lay in the other row. The other skeleton in the pair faced north. Under the skull of the latter, Emmert found a pair of brass bracelets, the remains of wooden earspools, a small drilled fossil, a bone implement, a copper bead and a stone engraved with what has come to be known as “the Bat Creek inscription.” Debunkers of the stone, however, argue that Emmert perpetrated a hoax by planting a fake inscription.

Created as part of a Tennessee Valley Authority project, Lake Tellico flooded a portion of the Little Tennessee River and the mouth of Bat Creek, in the vicinity of the mound. Lake Tellico is better known for the 1970s controversy over the threat it posed to the snail darter, a small fish.