We’re going to close “Smokies Week” with the jewel of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Cades Cove. Cades Cover is perhaps the most visited sites in one of the most visited parks in the country. Folks love to drive their cars around the 11 mile loop in search of wildlife. Many come looking for that perfect picture of deer or bear or the historic buildings that circle the cove.
The GSMNP is in the heart of Cherokee country (see my earlier post here). The Park Service states that they have no evidence of Cherokee villages in the cove though it was used for hunting. It was first settled by folks from East Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina sometime in the 1820s. By 1900 about 125 families lived in Cades Cove. These families built homes, churches and schools. Only a tiny fraction of the buildings are left for visitors to see today.
In 1934 the national park was officially established. At that time the states of Tennessee and North Carolina began purchasing land and turning it over to the Federal government. Some of the residents of the cove sold out but some resisted. One of the best known of the resistors was John W Oliver who fought the state of Tennessee for six years and the case went all the way to the state Supreme Court. He lost the case and moved from the cove in 1937. Kermit Caughron was the last resident of Cades Cove, he died in 1999. You can read more about him here.