How well do you know Smoky Mountain history? Read our favorite historical facts below to test your knowledge. You never know, some of these may surprise you!
1. The Smoky Mountains Are Among the Oldest in the World
It is estimated the mountains in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are between 200 and 300 million years old. When you take into consideration the national park is only turning 100 in 2016, that is a lot of Smoky Mountain history we may never know about.
The age of the mountains is determined by the amount of weathering the rocks have experienced. You can also partially tell the age by the particles found in the soil and the trees found on the mountains.
One of the lesser known Smoky Mountain history facts is that the first settler to the area was a woman. Although William Ogle is credited for building the first home in the area, it was actually his wife, Martha Jane Huskey Ogle, who first moved here. William passed away before he could settle into the home with his wife and kids.
3. It Was the First National Park to be Partially Federally Funded
As you know, entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is completely free for all visitors. The reason behind this is the fact that it was the first national park to ever be partially funded by the federal government.
The stipulation came when Newfound Gap Road was built. Because it was the only way at the time to easily travel between the communities in the area, leaders for both Tennessee and North Carolina wanted the roadway to remain free and easy to travel.
The rest of the money raised for the national park came from a $5 million donation from John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and donations raised by local citizens.
One of our favorite aspects of the Smoky Mountains is the miles and miles of untouched landscape. Not only is this scenery stunning to look at, it allows you to step back into Smoky Mountain history as if you are experiencing first hand yourself.
A big part of this history comes from the fact a third of the trees found in the national park are over 100 years old. Unlike the trees you have in your backyard, these timbers have stood the test for over a century.
This is even more impressive when you take into consideration these trees survived the booming lumber industry that dominated the area before it was turned into a national park.
5. Not All of the Historic Buildings in Cades Cove Are Native
Probably the most shocking Smoky Mountain history fact on our list, not many people realize some of the historic buildings in Cades Cove once were located somewhere else in the park.
Don’t worry! The John P. Cable Mill is native to the area. However, some of the buildings including the Gregg-Cable House was once located in other areas of the park. The Gregg-Cable House was once located on Forge Creek Road.
Also, the blacksmith shop and the visitor center were both built after the national park was founded. It is important to note, the two buildings built later were styled to replicate the architecture of the area.
To learn more about the rich culture of the area, check out our Smoky Mountain history page!