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Tag Archives: Smoky Mountain

Time Travel Smoky Mountain Style

Take a step back in time as you visit some of the areas I will mention here in the article.   It is a great way to experience the Smokies and learn of it’s diverse history, including the people that once lived  worked and vacationed in the area. History abounds here and you are sure to lose yourself daydreaming of an era long gone but not forgotten.

THE WONDERLAND HOTEL once a vibrant tourist attraction which first opened for business in 1912.  The two story structure had 26 guest rooms, carefully designed so that no two were alike, and each sported a private bath a luxury for that day and time.  The area became The Great Smoky National Park in 1934. The hotel remained opened until 1992 among many changes within the park and life itself.  Unfortunately in1995 fire took some of the structure, in 2006 the rest collapsed.  The park collected some items (boards/windows) and the buildings around the hotel were slated for restoration.  Sadly on April 19th, 2016 a fire also took out the annex.  Today what is left of the hotel along with the entire Elkmont District is listed as one of 11 most endangered places by the national Trust for Historic Preservation. The following was taken in Elkmont District.

elkmont

CEMETARIES IN THE GREAT SMOKY MT NATIONAL PARK   A total of more than 151 known cemetaries exist in the national park some date to the 1800’s. 20 cemetaries around Fontana Lake became inaccessible by land with the building of the dam, still accessible by ferry.  A cemetary also exists in the center of Gatlinburg. For more on White Oak Flats Cemetary check out our earlier blog article Hidden in the Heart of Gatlinburg.

HISTORIC BUILDINGS  The Great Smoky National Park has over 90 historic structures, houses, barns, schools, churches, outbuildings and grist mills.  Check out the map and put a few on your list to see when you visit.

grist mill

CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS CAMP Created during the depression to provide work and wages for young unemployed men many of the trails, bridges, campgrounds and buildings still stand today as a testament to their work.  For a brief history on how the park was created and the part the CCC played in helping to build it click here

There are lots of fun things to do and see in the area, I hope you will choose at least one thing off this list and take a few moments to reflect on the history of the area, the people who lived here and the great privilege we have of enjoying such a diverse, historic and beautiful area.

 

 

 

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Ski Tennessee!

Wanna ski in Tennessee?  Well then you have to head to the Smoky Mountains and the only ski resort in the southeast, Ober Gatlinburg.

Ober is set up for four seasons of fun but originally opened in the early 1960’s, first as a private club but quickly opened to the public.  It is located on the top of Mt Harrison 3 miles from downtown Gatlinburg and features not only snow related fun but also a wildlife encounter, an alpine slide, a chair swing, water raft rides, arcade, shopping, ice skating (indoor and year round), a mountain coaster, and more!  Fun for all ages and all seasons but for this article I want to focus on the winter/snow related activities.

In doing the research for this article I found out that there is a whole ‘nother language out there when it comes to snow sports!  First of all the place the sports takes place is called the Terrain Park. There is a lot of things included in the Terrain Park including boxes, rails, spines, bonks and table tops!  For those of you like me who have no clue what all those are suffice it to say they are obstacles to jump over or slide (jib) across on skies or snowboards.  Click here to see some jibbing at Ober.

Ober is constantly changing, upgrading and adding new features.  This year in addition to adding new obstacles a new ski slope was also opened, now offering nine trails.  All the snowmaking pipes were replaced, a holding pond was added which increased their snow making capacity and they expanded their rental fleet.  Oh they also have the latest in snow-grooming equipment to provide a smoother, more consistant surface.

For a great place to vacation this winter come to the Smoky Mountains and be sure to visit Ober, even if you don’t ski or snowboard, take a ride on the aerial cable car (one of the world’s longest), eat at one of the eateries and/or visit the shops in the Tramway Mall.   There’s always plenty to do in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, a great place to meet up with family and friends, share good times and make great memories.  We hope to see you soon!

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2014 in Attractions, Gatlinburg

 

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Logging…Loving…Leaving…Life The Story Of Elkmont

There has been much controversy concerning the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from the idea of it’s inception.  The area now know as Elkmont within the park is no exception.  The area started as a logging camp around 1901 when Colonel Townsend founded the Little River Railroad and the Little River Lumber Co.

As logging began to make the area more accesible the tourism trade grew. Townsend sold some of the land to outdoor and hunting enthusiast who soon began to build summer cottages. The former logging camps of Elkmont and Tremont were turned into vacation destinations which led to the creation of the Wonderland Hotel and the Appalachian Club.

By the 1920’s many people began to notice how the logging operations had devestated the land and the push for a national park began.  The problem with the national park idea was that the land was owned by private residents and the Little River Lumber Co which did not want to leave.  In 1924 a compromise was worked out with Colonel Townsend to sell 76,500 acres of land but allowed to log it for the next 15 years.  This was only one of many such “deals” that would need working out before the land now knows as the Great Smoky Mountain National Park came to be.

The area now known as Elkmont was purchased in the 1930’s as part of the park deal with the current residents being offered lifetime leases but renewed every 20 years.  The last lease was renewed in 1972  but denied renewal in 1992.  The problem was what to do with the buildings, the park service desired to tear them down and remove them but the past lease holders had other ideas wanting the structures preserved.  Many of the structures were granted a place on the National Register of Historic Places and therefore could not be torn down, more controversy, more compromise.

Elkmont is now an active campground with the abandon residences as a testament to it’s past.  The Wonderland Hotel has already been demolished and 56 other structures are slated for tear down.  Structures in the Daisy Hill section will remain and be restored as a static display to remind visitors of an era and the history that brought about the idea for a national park.  The Appalachian Club has already been restored as has the Spence Cabin and are available for day use for events such as weddings/receptions, family reunions, celebration events and business meetings.

The Smoky Mountain area is rich in history, controversy, bio-diversity and well all things that make up the cylce of life.

 

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Behold the Bugler

Fall is quickly approaching in the Great Smoky Mt National Park and that means lots of wonderful things!  One of the first things that comes to mind is the changing of the leaves which brings out brilliant colors and paints the land in rich hues of yellows, golds, oranges and reds.  Another thing that comes with fall is the mating season of the elk, also known as the rut (September into early Oct).

The elk were reintroduced in 2001-2002 after a 200 year absence in the Smokies.  They are spectacular creatures to behold.  The best places to do so in the park are in the Cataloochee Valley or near the Oconoluftee Visitor Center.  The best times for viewing are early morning or early evening just before sunset.  Fields may be closed during the rut to minimize conflicts between elk and humans.

elk

During the rut the adult male elk (bulls) use a combination of bugling and aggressive behavior in an attempt to dominant over other males.  They use their huge antlers to spar with other males in a show of strength.  The bugling is a very distinct sound beginning as a deep resonant then increases to a high pitched squeal and ends in a succession of grunts.  These bugles can be heard a mile or more away!

To view a video of the elk click here

Seasons of the elk:  Spring (March) the male shed their antlers which are calcium rich and quickly eaten by other rodents and other animals.  It is illegal to remove the antlers from the park so look don’t touch!

Summer is birthing time with most calves being born in June.  The majestic creatures like to roll and wallow in the mud to cover themselves as a deterant to pesty insects.  By August the antlers are full grown and have lost their “velvet”.

Fall is the rut as discussed above and the display of aggresive, dominant behaviour and bugling begins.

Winter, the elk wear a two layer coat in colder months with the longer hairs repelling water and the fuzzy undercoat keeps them warm.

It really is quite a treat to view the elk in their natural habitat.  Be sure to follow all park rules regarding wildlife viewing for your saftey and that of the animals.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Great Smoky Mt National Park

 

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Water, Water Everywhere!

What do you think of when you hear Smoky Mountain National Park, well for one thing you probably think of mountain scenery, hiking, and wildlife viewing and those are all great things to not only think about but do.  Another great resource in and around the area is water and all it offers.

Many of the most popular hikes in the park include a waterfall along the way.  Many of the roads in the park follow the river and there are some beautiful picnic spots along the rivers edge. Another great spot to view the strong rushing water is The Sinks a spot on the Little Pigeon River approximately 12 miles from  Sugarlands Visitor Center.  The views here are of cascades and the currents are very strong. There is a pull off here with a few parking spaces but if the area is full you can still get a good view by driving slowly as you cross over the bridge.

For those looking for swimming holes there are several of those in the park too. Here’s a list:

  • Little River – Townsend, TN. …
  • Deep Creek – Bryson City, NC. …
  • Green Brier – Gatlinburg, TN. …
  • Cherokee Rapids – Cherokee, NC. …
  • Little Pigeon River Banks – Sevierville, TN. …
  • Midnight Hole – NC/TN. …
  • Abrams Falls – Cades Cove, TN. …
  • Metcalf Bottoms – Gatlinburg, TN.

Another great form of recreation on the river is fishing and can be done year round in the park.  Licenses are required and some streams may be off limits so be sure to check with the park system for all rules/regulations regarding fishing in the park.

Not an angler, no worries how about floating away the day on a tube.  Several companies in the area for tube rentals.  Another way to float/ride the river white water rafting of course, check out the different package deals and different trips some include the fast rapids others a more leisurely float down the river.

lake

If you want to spend the day on a lovely lake it is only a short drive from Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge to Dandridge TN and beautiful Douglas Lake.  There you can rent boats of all types, jet skis, sea doos, and waverunners too.  Take a look at our other article Boat Loads of Fun for more area rental companies.

Looking for a great water park, try Dollywood’s Splash Country with 35 acres of waterslides, attractions, pools and play areas.

Another way to cool off, take a wet roll down the hill at The Outdoor Gravity Park in Pigeon Forge.

So rather you desire to get in the water, on the water or just have a great view of the water you will find it all right here in the Smoky Mountains!

Water anyone?

 

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Gobble Up The Sights of Spring

It’s courtship time for the Toms from March to May. So with the coming of spring comes the strutting and gobbling of male turkeys.  It is said the gobbles of Toms can be heard up to a mile away. Often the Toms will display right in the roadway and have no interest in anything but strutting their stuff for the ladies.  Please use caution when driving the roads, be on the lookout for all wildlife and prepare to give them the right away.  Be especially careful on blind curves and be aware other visitors may be stopped for wildlife who will often be found either in the roadway or very close to the edges.

turkey

 
 

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Winter Living in the 1800’s

We sure have it made compared to the mountain folk of the mid-19th century.  I can’t imagine living in the small cabins they called home, especially in chilly winter temps with the wind whistling through all the cracks and down the chimney!  The typical cabin was 18 X 20 (360 sq ft), frequently with a sleeping loft.  The cabins may have been small but the families normally large.  Usually the log home would house multiple generations including grandparents and 5 -12 kids!

Life was simple yet hard.  They lived off the land and in winter while fresh produce was sparce if crops had been good and livstock prolific they had plenty to eat.  They would dry, salt, pickle, and sulphur things to make sure the family would eat well.  Some items their diets may have included are:  chicken, corn bread, pickled vegetables, dry green beans, squirrel, sorghum molasses, potatoes and salt pork, sulphured apples.

Winter was the time when most children attended school since they were not needed to work the farm.  The school year lasted only 2-4 months of the year and cost about $1 per student per month for the family to have their children educated.  Typically a child only went to school for a 3-5 year period enough to learn basic reading, writing and math skills.  Two country schools are preserved in the national park. Little Greenbrier School is accessible in winter by the 0.7 mile Metcalf Bottoms Trail which begins at Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area. Beech Grove School is beside the road in Cataloochee Valley.

To pass the time indoors during the wintery weather the mountain folk would play music and sing songs.  Ballads were written about life events, tragedies, and local places.

The woman sewed quilts made from leftover scraps of cloth, worn out clothing and scraps of sack cloth.

I like to imagine what it would have been like for those hardy people to farm the land enjoy the fruit of it and the beauty too but I will admit I like to do so in the comfort of my climate controlled home in my very comfortable easy chair with a stocked refrigerator not far away!

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2013 in Area History

 

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The Wedding Capital of the South

weddingmarineAnother way the Smokies are endeared to many, they come here where the scenery shouts life, peace, and joy to promise a lifetime of love to one another.  The area has everything a couple planning a wedding could want or need, including beautiful wedding chapels, local florists, bakers, salons, spas, catering services, photography, entertainment and more.

Looking for something a little more intimate?  Local ministers will come to your cabin, condo or chalet and perform your perfect Smoky Mountain wedding.  Another great perk, you are already at your honeymoon destination! 

Need a one stop shop, help in planning or just general information, then check out (by clicking their name) the Smoky Mountain Wedding Association page for wedding planning made easy!  You’ll want to get their free planning guide and read their blog articles for great ideas, hints, tips and more.

Here are a couple other helpful links.

Package Deals:  New Beginnings Wedding Photography

For a list of wedding providers/wedding services in Sevier County click here.

With the helpful resources of the links above the planning of your wedding just got easier, and your life more stress free!  After all isn’t that what coming to the Smokies is all about?  Why yes it is!  Is all about love, fun, relaxation and memories.  No better place than the Smokies to fall in love, pledge your love and enjoy your love.  Now get busy planning those honeymoon activities!

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2013 in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge

 

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Let’s Go Shopping!

Whether you are shopping for yourself, for that special someone, to complete your holiday list or maybe just find that unique conversation piece, you can find it all right here in the Smoky Mt Area.  Here are some links to help plan your outing.

http://www.tangeroutlet.com/sevierville/

http://www.mypigeonforge.com/things-to-do/shopping/

http://shopsofpigeonforge.com/

http://www.pigeonforgefactoryoutlet.com/

http://www.waldenslanding.com/stores.html

http://www.gatlinburg.com/things-to-do/shopping/default.aspx

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2013 in 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.

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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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