The Hiwassee River and the settlements on its banks were witness to important and ultimately heartbreaking historical events. Settled around the river, Charleston and Calhoun were often referred to as the twin cities. These two southern river towns in Tennessee may be small, but their place in history is significant and largely untold until now. An important piece of American history was almost lost until the residents of these two cities decided this was a story that needs to be told and a people who need to be remembered. (Cleveland-Bradley Chamber of Commerce "Your Passport to Explore Cherokee Heritage") The Hiwassee River Heritage Center is an educational tool for residents and visitors functioning as a welcome center and a gateway to other regional historic sites. Through interpretive panels and displays, the heritage center introduces the stories of early settlers of Charleston, the Cherokee and their forced removal on the Trail of Tears, the Civil War and the eventual destruction of the area. It also provides a way for visitors to record documents and photographs into a searchable database.