Cades Cove: Early American Life on Display

Robert RamstetterStarred Page By Robert Ramstetter, 10th Oct 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>North America>United States>Tennessee

Cades Cove is nestled within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It offers visitors an idyllic view of life as the pioneers saw it.

Cades Cove: American Wilderness through the Eyes of the Pioneers

When you think of the Great Smoky Mountains, you probably think of mountains. Those looming, breathtaking backdrops for Gatlinburg, Tennessee where black bears roam free, and scenic hiking trails and crisp, pure streams await the adventurer. You may not imagine a historic pioneer settlement, preserved in a nestled valley away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist traps. Prepare yourself as you take a step back in time to a dreamy place known as Cades Cove.

The area preserves the pioneer lifestyle.

Nestled in a valley, Cades Cove was home to settlers before the land became a federally managed national park. The last resident, in fact, lived there until his death in 1999. Although the valley was initially heavily forested, logging, farming, and settling led to the current state of deforestation. When the area was initially incorporated as part of the national park, it was initially decided to let the forest reclaim the area. The Park Service eventually decided on maintaining the valley as a meadow.
To reach Cades Cove from Gatlinburg, just follow the signs to the Sugarlands Visitor Center. From there, just follow the Little River Road. It should be noted that, after you pass the turnoff to Townsend, there are no gas stations. Plan accordingly. Upon reaching the Cades Cove Loop Road, you will begin an eleven mile one way loop through the area known as Cades Cove. This road, not to be taken if you are on a tight schedule, meanders through some of the most scenic countryside that you will probably ever encounter. Over two million visitors a year will testify to that. Once you start, there are only a few shortcuts to take you to the other side of the loop. For the most part, you are entirely at the mercy of the drivers in front of you, many of which drive as though it is their one and only chance to see a meadow. Again, I would not recommend the drive if you want to go anywhere in a hurry. Just take it easy and enjoy the scenery. Chances are, the person in front of you is slowing down or stopping for a reason. A field of deer or even a bear is not something you get to see often, and it is possible that both caught the eye of the driver in front of you.

Visiting the vintage historic buildings leaves the visitor with an understanding of early American life.

Although the area was inhabited by over six hundred people prior to incorporation within the park boundaries in the 1920's, many of the more modern structures have been razed. Although the park service created a certain amount of controversy by razing structures that they did not deem appropriately historical, they did succeed in creating a window back in time. The remaining buildings are a sampling of various structures from the pioneer days.
The first structure that visitors encounter on the loop road is the John Oliver Cabin. John Oliver and his family were the first European inhabitants of Cades Cove, although they didn't build their wonderfully preserved log cabin until a few years later in 1823. Next, the Primitive Baptist Church, one of three houses of worship in the cove is a must-see. It is easily one of the most recognizable and photographed structures in the Great Smoky Mountains. Later, the visitor will encounter the Missionary Baptist Church, which broke off from the Primitive Baptist Church because of a controversy over an interpretation in scripture. There is also a restored Methodist Church that was built in 1902.

Opportunities for nature lovers abound.

For those who do not have an enthusiasm for historic structures, there are still many reasons to visit Cades Cove. Even if such things are of no interest, it can still be a rewarding experience to make an occasional stop at a couple of the structures for a taste of the pioneer life in the region. Besides the history of the place, several unique hiking trails offer the nature enthusiast a chance to escape the rigors of pioneer life. Hiking opportunities in Cades Cove are abundant ad they range from the casual stroll to the physically challenging. One of the most popular is Abrams Falls. Although the hike is only five miles round trip, the numerous hills that the trail transverses make it a bit strenuous, but hikers can cool off in the stream and swim up to the base of the falls. Another, easier walk is the Cades Cove nature trail. This simple stroll is particularly rewarding in the spring, when the wildflowers bloom.
Whether you enjoy wildlife, historic pioneer structures, or hiking adventures, Cades Cove is something that should not be missed. If you, as a visitor to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, see only one place while there, make it Cades Cove.

Photo Credits:
Log Cabin:
Methodist Church:


Black Bears, National Park, Pioneer, Wilderness

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author avatar Robert Ramstetter
Robert Ramstetter is a world traveler and writer of short stories, full length novels, and a vast array of technical articles.

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author avatar Retired
10th Oct 2014 (#)

An interesting and detailed description of somewhere that was previously unknown to me.

It's shame that you did not supply a few photos to go with it. I have checked, and there are plenty of public domain images that you could have used. By splitting your text into smaller sections you could attach one photo per section - this would make your pieces much more attractive and get you lots more page views.

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author avatar Robert Ramstetter
15th Oct 2014 (#)


Thanks for the advice. I added several pictures. It really does help to bring my article to life.

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
10th Oct 2014 (#)

Robert, great article. I love looking back in time. Cades Cove sounds like such a beautiful pace to visit. The only thing that worries me is running into a black bear. That would be scary. I'm not sure what my plan would be. I'd have to study up on black bears. Smiles to you on this Friday morning.

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author avatar Robert Ramstetter
10th Oct 2014 (#)

I would not worry about black bears. They frequent the area, but they usually shy around humans. If you leave them alone, they will leave you alone. They are not usually aggressive like the American Grisley Bear.

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author avatar C.D. Moore
10th Oct 2014 (#)

Interesting and well written, I agree with John's advice.Looking forward to more!

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
10th Oct 2014 (#)

Robert, thanks for the info about the bears. I would be more than willing to stay away from them if they would stay away from me

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author avatar AjaySinghChauhan
25th Oct 2014 (#)

very interesting post and thanks for sharing it with us.

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author avatar Mutimut
26th Oct 2014 (#)

Nice post, thank you for share this.

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