Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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These points of interest appear in the order of the trip you will take around the Loop Road
01 Sparks Lane 02 John Oliver Place 03 Primitive Baptist Church 04 Methodist Church 05 Hyatt Lane 06 Missionary Baptist Church  07 Rich Mountain Road 08 Cooper Road Trail 09 Elijah Oliver Place 10 Abrams Falls 11 Cable Mill Area 12 Henry Whitehead Place 13 Nature Trail  14 Dan Lawson Place 15 Tipton Place 16 Carter Shields Cabin.



Map of Loop Road


Loop Road Tour


Man became part of Cades Cove beyond reach of human memory. Indians hunted here for uncounted centuries, but hardly any sign of them remains. White settlers followed the Indians to the Cove and their sign is everywhere: buildings and roads, apple trees and fences, daffodils and footpaths. Cades Cove is an open air museum that preserves some of the material culture of those who last lived there.

Go carefully and observantly into another place and time, one apart from your existence today. See its sights and hear its sounds. Feel the road rise and fall under you. Stop, get out, and sense the rocky paths under your feet. be carried into the world of organic man, when he was a generalist and not a specialist. He lived each day as it came, solving each problem with hands and mind in common harness. Neither master of his environment nor victim of it, he took what Nature allowed him to have, and made his way.

Settlers first entered the Cove legally after an Indian treaty transferred the land to the State of Tennessee in 1819. Year after year then funneled through the gaps, driven by whatever haunted them behind or drew them in front, until they spilled over the floor and up the slopes. Most of them traced their way down the migration route from Virginia into east Tennessee (more or less Interstate 81). Tuckaleechee (modern Townsend) was the last point of supply before the leap into Cades Cove. A few years later pioneers moved directly over the mountains from North Carolina. They all came equipped with personal belongings, and the tools and skills of an Old World culture, enriched with what they learned from the Indians.

The people of the Cove did not enter, settle and become shut off from the rest of humanity. They were not discovered by Park developers, still living a pioneer lifestyle. From the beginning they kept up through the newspapers, regular mail service, circuit riding preachers, and buying and selling trips to Tuckaleechee, Maryville and Knoxville. They went to wars and war came to them. They attended church and school, and college if financially able. A resident physician was here most of the time from the 1830ís on. Telephones rang in a few Cove homes about as early as anywhere else (1896).

Although remote and arduous, life here was little different from rural life anywhere in eastern America in the nineteenth century. Household and farm labor were done according to ones age and sex. Men produced shelter, food, fuel and raw materials for clothing. Women cooked, kept house and processed things the husband produced.

  Cades Cove was once known as "Kate's Cove" after an Indian chief's wife. The Cove drew the Cherokee Nation back again and again by it's abundant wildlife and good hunting. Later, Cades Cove's wildlife drew European descent frontiersmen to make it their home. They and their offspring cleared the fertile valley floor and built farms to sustain them. The pioneer's families lived in Cades Cove for many generations before the cove became part of The Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Today, Cades Cove is still as full of wildlife as before but draws not hunters, but millions of Smokies visitors  
  The Cove has been preserved by the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to look much the way it looked in the 1800's. Once home to a small mountain community, whose settlers came from mainly from Virginia, North Carolina and upper east Tennessee, Cades Cove is today the largest open air museum in the entire Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Cades Cove has original pioneer homesteads, barns, businesses, pasture and farmland--a fitting tribute to the hearty people who lived here in the days of yesteryear  
  Most of the settlers homes and home sites will be outside of the road you as you travel the Cades Cove loop. To the center of the loop will be acre upon acre of grass and wildflower fields which were once cleared by frontiersmen for valuable for growing things such as wheat, corn and cattle. Nearly all the buildings built by the pioneers and preserved by the Great Smoky Mountain National Park are outside the Cades Cove Loop. These remaining original structures, as well as abundant wildlife, are easy to spot as you travel the loop  
  However there were many homes in the cove which were not preserved. Those abandoned home sites are still visible to the trained eye. You may recognize the abandoned home sites by obscure lonely chimney's, rock fences or landscaping which does not seem natural to the surroundings. In addition to the European descent Americans who lived in Cades Cove for over a century before it was absorbed into The Great Smoky Mountain National Park, there were also Native Americans. The Native American tribe was, and still is the Cherokee nation. You can see signs they left on Cades Cove in the form of trails, many of which were developed into roads and or hiking trails  
  This land was purchased by the state of Tennessee from the Cherokee Indians. Land speculators, who had purchased large tracts of land from the state, then sold smaller parcels to families to farm. The East end of the valley was the first to be settled. It is higher and drier than the West end, so if you are looking for a specific type flora or fauna keep that mind.  
The eleven-mile loop road follows many of the grades and turns of the old wagon roads, fording a stream now and then. Along the way you are likely to see wildlife: deer and wild turkey year-round, lots of groundhogs in the summer.

Children and the elderly took care of miscellaneous loose ends when and where they could. In this way the home was an almost self-contained economic unit. The community was an important aspect of life to the settlers in a rural society. It was an extension of the household by marriage, custom, and economic necessity...a partnership of households in association with each other. The community as democratic in a general sense: there were few extremes of wealth and poverty; there was widespread participation in community affairs; and, no clearly defined social classes locked people in or out. There were common celebrations like family gatherings, workings, and funerals. Politics was tied to state, regional and national affairs. Law enforcement was personal in many ways. Justices of the Peace applied common sense, based on common law.

Call Steve Speer at: 865-233-0508
or Email: [email protected]


Source: from a booklet published by the Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association in cooperation with the National Park Service (no date).
Information supplied in-part by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.