Monthly Archives: August 2013

What’s in a name….


Gatlinburg was settled in the early 1800s, however at that time it was called White Oak Flats (a cemetary still bearing the name White Oak Flats is located in downtown Gatlinburg, more on that in another post) for the abundant native white oak trees covering the landscape. It is believed that a middle-aged widow, Martha Jane Huskey Ogle, was the first official settler here. She came with her family to start a new life in what her late husband described as a “Land of Paradise” in East Tennessee. Soon after, the familiar family names McCarter, Reagan, Whaley, and Trentham took up residence along local streams and hollows.

There are many stories as to how Gatlinburg got its name, all involving a controversial figure who settled here in 1854. Radford C. Gatlin opened the town’s second general store, in direct competion with the first store opened 4 years earlier and owned by Noah Ogle.  Gatlin took the initiative to secure a post office and when the town’s new post office was established in 1856, Gatlin named the destination Gatlinburg. By all accounts, Mr. Gatlin was a flamboyant preacher, establishing his own “Gatlinite” Baptist Church. He was a democrat in a republican community, and for reasons which remain unclear, he was eventually banished from the area. But he had the last laugh:  the city still bears his name.

Pigeon Forge

The other major Sevier County tourist town got its name from the first business established in the area, an iron forge built around 1820 by Isaac Love on the bank of the Little Pigeon River near what is now The Old Mill. Of course, that still begs the question: ‘How did the Little Pigeon River get its name?’Just as you might guess, the river’s name comes from the fact that great flocks of pigeons once filled the skies and trees in the area — Passenger Pigeons, to be specific. The town fared better than the particular breed of pigeon for which it was named. Passenger Pigeons, once among the most numerous birds in the world, were hunted into extinction by the early 20th century.


Sevierville (Severe ville) is named for John Sevier, one of the leading figures in the history of Tennessee. Sevier was a frontiersman, soldier, war hero and politician who served under George Washington in the American Revolution and distinguished himself at the battle of King’s Mountain.

In 1784, he became the first governor of the State of Franklin (set to become the 14th state) a new state that had been carved out of the land around Watauga. Later, Franklin became part of North Carolina and John Sevier was accused of treason for resisting the annexation.

When the State of Tennessee was formed in 1796, Sevier became its first governor, serving from 1796 until 1801 and again from 1803 until 1809. Sevier later served as a state senator from 1809 until 1811 and was a member of the US House of Representatives in 1811.

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Posted by on August 31, 2013 in Area History, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge


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Elk in the Smoky Mountains

Elk once roamed the southern Appalachian mountains and elsewhere in the eastern United States. They were eliminated from the region by over-hunting and loss of habitat. The last elk in North Carolina was believed to have been killed in the late 1700s. In Tennessee, the last elk was killed in the mid-1800s. By 1900, the population of elk in North America dropped to the point that hunting groups and other conservation organizations became concerned the species was headed for extinction.

A primary mission of the National Park Service is to preserve native plants and animals on lands it manages. In cases where native species have been eliminated from park lands, the National Park Service may choose to reintroduce them. Reintroduction of elk into Great Smoky Mountains National Park began in 2001 when 25 elk were brought from the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area along the Tennessee-Kentucky border. In 2002, the park imported another 27 animals.

Viewing Elk

The best times to view elk are usually early morning and late evening. Elk may also be active on cloudy summer days and before or after storms. Enjoy elk at a distance, using binoculars or a spotting scope for close-up views. Approaching wildlife too closely causes them to expend crucial energy unnecessarily and can result in real harm. If you approach an animal so closely that it stops feeding, changes direction of travel, or otherwise alters its behavior, you are too close!  The park has strict regulations against approaching wildlife or causing them any distress, fines and even arrest could result.  Remember these are wild creatures and can prove to be very dangerous epecially if they are protecting young, if they are spooked or provoked.


Most of the elk are located in the Cataloochee area in the southeastern section of the park. The easiest way to reach Cataloochee is from Interstate highway I-40. Exit I-40 at North Carolina exit #20. After 0.2 mile, turn right onto Cove Creek Road and follow signs 11 miles into Cataloochee valley. Allow at least 45 minutes to reach the valley once you exit I-40.

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Posted by on August 30, 2013 in Great Smoky Mt National Park


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“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

There are only …

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Posted by on August 27, 2013 in Photos


Dixie Stampede

When you think vacation a few things come quickly to mind….where to go…where to stay….what to do and where to eat.  Of course since this is blog dedicated to vacationing in the Smoky Mts and we are the proud owners of two log cabins we rent out to travelers the where to go and stay are a given. So let’s turn our attention to what to do and where to eat.

The great thing about this suggestion is you get to do and eat!  Family fun and adventure await you at The Dixie Stampede, a dinner attraction in Pigeon Forge TN.  Not only will you get a 4 course meal (tie the feed bag on!), but you’ll be a spectator/participator in a friendly north vs south competition with musical productions, special effects, and horse riding stunts.  You may even see a bison and ladies who can resist men in uniform!  Don’t worry guys plenty of fine looking gals in the show too.

Located on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge come by in the morning and get up close and personal with some of the horses that will be in the show.  For show times and ticket info click this link:



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Posted by on August 27, 2013 in Attractions, Pigeon Forge


Park History

Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on September 2, 1940,

Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on September 2, 1940, “for the permanent enjoyment of the people.”

Becoming a national park was not easy for the Great Smokies. Joining the National Park System took a lot of money and the hard work of thousands of people. Read about some of the individuals involved in founding the national park…

Establishing most of the older parks located in the western United States, such as Yellowstone, was fairly easy. Congress merely carved them out of lands already owned by the government—often places where no one wanted to live anyway. But getting park land in this area was a different story. The land that became Great Smokies National Park was owned by hundreds of small farmers and a handful of large timber and paper companies. The farmers did not want to leave their family homesteads, nor did the large corporations want to abandon huge forests of timber, many miles of railroad track, extensive systems of logging equipment, and whole villages of employee housing.

The idea to create a national park in these mountains started in the late 1890s. A few farsighted people began to talk about a public land preserve in the cool, healthful air of the southern Appalachians. A bill even entered the North Carolina Legislature to this effect, but failed. By the early 20th century, many more people in the North and South were pressuring Washington for some kind of public preserve, but they were in disagreement on whether it should be a national park or a national forest.

There are important differences between national parks and national forests, and each concept had its cheering section. In a national forest, consumptive use of renewable resources is permitted under the multiple use management concept. Because the forests were initially set aside for timber harvesting and grazing, the national forests were made a bureau in the Department of Agriculture.

In a national park, however, the scenery and resources are protected, and nature is allowed to run its course. The ultimate decision to establish a national park meant that the scenery, resources, and some of the native architecture would be protected for all people to enjoy into the infinite future.

The drive to create a national park became successful in the mid-1920s, with most of the hard working supporters based in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Asheville, North Carolina. The two groups had long been competitors over the location of the national park, but they finally began pulling together for a park in the heart of the Smokies, halfway between the two cities.

In May, 1926, a bill was signed by President Calvin Coolidge that provided for the establishment of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park. This allowed the Department of the Interior to assume responsibility for administration and protection of a park in the Smokies as soon as 150,000 acres of land had been purchased.

Since the government was not allowed to buy land for national park use, the former political boosters had to become fund raisers. In the late 1920s, the Legislatures of Tennessee and North Carolina appropriated $2 million each for land purchases. Additional money was raised by individuals, private groups, and even school children who pledged their pennies. By 1928, a total of $5 million had been raised. Trouble was, the cost of the land had now doubled, so the campaign ground to a halt. The day was saved when the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Fund donated $5 million, assuring the purchase of the remaining land.

But buying the land was difficult, even with the money in hand. There thousands of small farms, large tracts, and other miscellaneous parcels that had to be surveyed, appraised, dickered over, and sometimes condemned in court. The timber and paper companies had valuable equipment and standing inventory which required compensation.

Eventually all the details were worked out, including allowing some lifetime leases to those who refused to sell.  As you see in the photo above President Roosevelt formally dedicated the park in 1940.   Many of the trails, campgrounds, stone bridges and buildings were built by the Civilian Conservation Corp.(CCC) created during the Depression to put young unemployed men to work.  They began work in 1933 and worked until 1942 when World War II shut the program down.

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Posted by on August 26, 2013 in Great Smoky Mt National Park



Historic Buildings

Jim Bales Cabin on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

The Jim Bales Cabin on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

Robert Crootof photo

Great Smoky Mountains National Park holds one of the best collections of log buildings in the eastern United States. Over 90 historic structures—houses, barns, outbuildings, churches, schools, and grist mills—have been preserved or rehabilitated in the park. The best places to see them are at Cades Cove,CataloocheeOconaluftee, and along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Self-guiding auto tour booklets are available at each place to enhance your visit.

Here are just a few you may want to visit.

The Little Greenbrier School

They really did walk nine miles to school in the snow.

On your way from Gatlinburg to Cades Cove, stop here and take a trip back to school in the 1800s. Families sent their kids here for more than 50 years, mostly in winter when there was less farming to be done.

Greenbrier is now a ghost town, and there’s a cemetery across the street. This classic one-room schoolhouse also served as a Primitive Baptist Church. Behave when you visit, or you’ll have to sit in the corner.

John Oliver’s Cabin

Cades Cove’s first and oldest.

John and Lucretia Oliver were the first to come to Cades Cove, and they almost didn’t survive the first winter. They ate dried pumpkin given to them by the Cherokee and ground their corn into meal with a mortar and pestle. And they SURVIVED. Take a short walk off the main loop at Cades Cove and visit one of the oldest structures in the Smokies. It’s still stands where they built it, held together without pegs or nails. It remains erect by gravity, and anchored by the spirit of the mighty will of two hardy settlers.

John Cable’s Mill and Mingus Mill

The daily grind in the late 1800s.

There are still four working mills in the Smokies. Two are little tub mills, such as the one at Noah “Bud” Ogle’s homestead. John Cable’s Mill, a classic waterwheel-powered mill, is a must-see during a day trip to Cades Cove.

mingus mill

Mingus Mill, a half-mile from the Ocanaluftee Visitor Center, uses a turbine. It was built under contract in just three months and completed in 1886. It was the largest mill in the Smokies, and you can still buy cornmeal there.

Noah “Bud” Ogle Homestead

Who says they didn’t have plumbing?

If you take a drive along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail or are taking a hike to Rainbow Falls, stop here first. The cabin, barn and working tubmill have all been preserved and restored. One look at the Ogles’ handcrafted wooden flume plumbing system will make you think twice before you complain about the water pressure in your home shower ever again. The tub mill is one the few left in existence. It still grinds away powered by water diverted from nearby LeConte Creek.

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Posted by on August 26, 2013 in Great Smoky Mt National Park




On the Road to Fall

On the road to fall

Fall color

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Posted by on August 25, 2013 in Photos