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The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the Tennesseemarker-North Carolinamarker border in the southeastern United States. They are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountainsmarker, and form part of the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province. The range is sometimes called the Smoky Mountains or the Smokey Mountains, and the name is commonly shortened to the Smokies. The Great Smokies are best known as the home of the Great Smoky Mountains National Parkmarker, which protects most of the range. The park was established in 1934, and with over 9 million visits per year, it is the most-visited national park in the United States.

The Great Smokies are part of an International Biosphere Reserve. The range is home to an estimated of old growth forest, constituting the largest such stand east of the Mississippi River. The cove hardwood forests in the range's lower elevations are among the most diverse ecosystems in North America, and the Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest that coats the range's upper elevations is the largest of its kind. The Great Smokies are also home to the densest black bear population in the Eastern United States and the most diverse salamander population outside of the tropics.

Along with the Biosphere reserve, the Great Smokies have been designated a UNESCOmarker World Heritage Site. The U.S. National Park Service preserves and maintains 78 structures within the national park that were once part of the numerous small Appalachian communities scattered throughout the range's river valleys and coves. The park contains five historic districts and nine individual listings on the National Register of Historic Places.

The name "Smoky" comes from the natural fog that often hangs over the range and presents as large smoke plumes from a distance. This fog, which is most common in the morning and after rainfall, is the result of warm humid air from the Gulf of Mexicomarker cooling rapidly in the higher elevations of Southern Appalachia.

Geography



The Great Smoky Mountains stretch from the Pigeon River in the northeast to the Little Tennessee Rivermarker to the southwest. The northwestern half of the range gives way to a series of elongate ridges known as the "Foothills," the outermost of which include Chilhowee Mountainmarker and English Mountain. The range is roughly bounded on the south by the Tuckasegee River and to the southeast by Soco Creek and Jonathan Creek. The Great Smokies comprise parts of Blount Countymarker, Sevier Countymarker, and Cocke Countymarker in Tennessee and Swain Countymarker and Haywood Countymarker in North Carolina.

The sources of several rivers are located in the Smokies, including the Little Pigeon River, the Oconaluftee River, and Little River. Streams in the Smokies are part of the Tennessee River watershed and are thus entirely west of the Eastern Continental Divide. The largest stream wholly within the park is Abrams Creek, which rises in Cades Cove and empties into the Chilhowee Lake impoundment of the Little Tennessee River near Chilhowee Dammarker. Other major streams include Hazel Creek and Eagle Creek in the southwest, Raven Fork near Oconalufteemarker, Cosby Creek near Cosbymarker, and Roaring Fork near Gatlinburgmarker. The Little Tennessee River passes through five impoundments along the range's southwestern boundary, namely Tellico Lakemarker, Chilhowee Lakemarker, Calderwood Lakemarker, Cheoah Lakemarker, and Fontana Lakemarker.

Notable peaks

The highest point in the Smokies is Clingmans Domemarker, which rises to an elevation of . The mountain is the highest in Tennessee and the third highest in the Appalachian range. Clingmans Dome also has the range's highest topographical prominence at . Mount Le Conte is the tallest (i.e., from immediate base to summit) mountain in the range, rising from its base in Gatlinburg to its summit.

Mountain Elevation Prominence General location Name after
Clingmans Domemarker 6,643 ft/2,025 m 4,503 ft/1,373 m Central Smokies Thomas Lanier Clingman (1812-1897), surveyor
Mount Guyotmarker 6,621 ft/ 2,018m 1,581 ft/482 m Eastern Smokies Arnold Guyot (1807-1884), surveyor
Mount Le Contemarker 6,593 ft/2,010 m 1,360 ft/415 m Central Smokies Joseph Le Conte or John Le Conte, scientists
Mount Chapmanmarker 6,417 ft/1,956 m 577 ft/176 m Eastern Smokies David Chapman (1876-1944), park promoter
Old Blackmarker 6,370 ft/1,942 m 170 ft/52 m Eastern Smokies Spruce-fir stand at summit
Luftee Knob 6,234 ft/1,900 m 314 ft/96 m Eastern Smokies Oconaluftee River
Mount Kephartmarker 6,217 ft/1,895 m 657 ft/200 m Central Smokies Horace Kephart (1862-1931), author
Mount Collinsmarker 6,188 ft/1,886 m 465 ft/142 m Central Smokies Robert Collins, mountain guide
Marks Knobmarker 6,169 ft/1,880 m appx. 249 ft/76 m Eastern Smokies
Tricorner Knobmarker 6,120 ft/1,865 m 160 ft/48 m Eastern Smokies Intersection of Balsam crest and Great Smokies crest
Andrews Baldmarker 5,920 ft/1,804 m 160 ft/48 m Central Smokies possibly Andres Thompson, early settler
Mount Sterlingmarker 5,842 ft/1,781 m 663 ft/202 m Eastern Smokies possibly lead at mountain's base mistaken for silver
Silers Baldmarker 5,607 ft/1,709 m 337 ft/102 m Western Smokies Jesse Siler, who used the mountain for grazing
Thunderhead Mountainmarker 5,527 ft/1,684 m 1087 ft/332 m Western Smokies constant cloud cover
Gregory Baldmarker 4,949 ft/1,508 m 1,107 ft/337 m Western Smokies Russell Gregory (1805-1863), Cades Covemarker resident
Mount Cammerermarker 4,928 ft/1,502 m 8 ft/2 m Eastern Smokies Arno B. Cammerer (1883-1941), NPS director
Chimney Topsmarker 4,800 ft/1,463 m appx. 200 ft/61 m Central Smokies resemblance to cabin chimneys
Blanket Mountain 4,607 ft/1,404 m appx. 500 ft/152 m Western Smokies blanket left atop mountain by surveyor Return Meigs for a reference point
Shuckstackmarker 4,020 ft/1,225 m 300 ft/91 m Western Smokies


Climate



The Smokies rise prominently above the surrounding low terrain. For example, Mount Le Contemarker (6,593 feet or 2,010 m) rises more than a mile (1.6 km) above its base. Because of their prominence, the Smokies receive heavy annual amounts of precipitation. Annual precipitation amounts range from 50 to 80 inches (130–200 cm), and snowfall in the winter can be heavy, especially on the higher slopes. For comparison, the surrounding terrain has annual precipitation of around 40 to 50 inches (100-130 cm).

Flooding often occurs after heavy rain. In 2004, the remnants of Hurricane Frances caused major flooding, landslides, and high winds, which was soon followed by Hurricane Ivan, making the situation worse. Other post-hurricanes, including Hurricane Hugo in 1989, have caused similar damage in the Smokies.

Geology

Alum Cave Bluffs


Most of the rocks in the Great Smoky Mountains consist of Late Precambrian rocks that are part of a formation known as the Ocoee Supergroup. The Ocoee Supergroup consists primarily of slightly metamorphosed sandstones, phyllites, schists, and slate. Early Precambrian rocks, which include the oldest rocks in the Smokies, comprise the dominant rock type in the Raven Fork Valley (near Oconalufteemarker) and upper Tuckasegee River between Cherokeemarker and Bryson Citymarker. They consist primarily of metamorphic gneiss, granite, and schist. Cambrian sedimentary rocks are found among the outer reaches of the Foothills to the northwest and in limestone coves such as Cades Covemarker.

The Precambrian gneiss and schists— the oldest rocks in the Smokies— formed over a billion years ago from the accumulation of marine sediments and igneous rock in a primordial ocean. In the Late Precambrian period, this ocean expanded, and the more recent Ocoee Supergroup rocks formed from accumulations of the eroding land mass onto the ocean's continental shelf. By the end of the Paleozoic period, the ancient ocean had deposited a thick layer of marine sediments which left behind sedimentary rocks such as limestone. During the Ordovician period, the North American and African plates collided, destroying the ancient ocean and initiating the Alleghenian orogeny— the mountain-building epoch that created the Appalachian range. The Mesozoic period saw the rapid erosion of the softer sedimentary rocks from the new mountains, re-exposing the older Ocoee Supergroup formations.

Around 20,000 years ago, subarctic glaciers advanced southward across North America, and although they never reached the Smokies, the advancing glaciers led to colder mean annual temperatures and an increase in precipitation throughout the range. Trees were unable to survive at the higher elevations, and were replaced by tundra vegetation. Spruce-fir forests occupied the valleys and slopes below approximately . The persistent freezing and thawing during this period created the large blockfields that are often found at the base of large mountain slopes. Between 16,500 and 12,500 years ago, the glaciers to the north retreated and mean annual temperatures rose. The tundra vegetation disappeared, and the spruce-fir forests retreated to the highest elevations. Hardwood trees moved into the region from the coastal plains, replacing the spruce-fir forests in the lower elevations. The temperatures continued warming until around 6,000 years ago, when they began to gradually grow cooler.

Flora

Heavy logging in the late 19th-century and early 20th-century devastated much of the forests of the Smokies, but the National Park Service estimates of old growth forest remains, comprising the largest old growth stand in the Eastern United States. Most of the forest is a mature second-growth hardwood forest. The range's 1,600 species of flowering plants include over 100 species of native trees and 100 species of native shrubs. The Great Smokies are also home to over 450 species of non-vascular plants, and 2,000 species of fungi.

The forests of the Smokies are typically divided into three zones— the cove hardwood forests in the stream valleys, coves, and lower mountain slopes, the northern hardwood forests on the higher mountain slopes, and the spruce-fir or boreal forest at the very highest elevations. Balds— patches of land where trees are unexpectedly absent or sparse— are interspersed through the mid-to-upper elevations in the range. Balds include grassy balds, which are highland meadows covered primarily by thick grasses, and heath balds, which are dense thickets of rhododendron and mountain laurel typically occurring on narrow ridges. Mixed oak-pine forests are found on dry ridges, especially on the south-facing North Carolina side of the range. Stands dominated by the Eastern Hemlock are occasionally found along streams and broad slopes above .

The cove hardwood forest

Cove hardwood forest along Cosby Creek


Cove hardwood forests, which are native to Southern Appalachia, are among the most diverse forest types in North America. The cove hardwood forests of the Smokies are mostly second-growth, although some are still old-growth. The Albright Grove along the Maddron Bald Trail (between Gatlinburg and Cosby) is an accessible old-growth forest with some of the oldest and tallest trees in the entire range.

Over 130 species of trees are found among the canopies of the cove hardwood forests in the Smokies. The dominant species include yellow birch, basswood, buckeye, tuliptree (commonly called "tulip poplar"), silverbell, sugar maple, magnolia, hickory, and hemlock. The American chestnut, which was arguably the most beloved tree of the range's pre-park inhabitants, was killed off by a blight in the 1920s.

The understories of the cove hardwood forest contain thousands of species of shrubs and vines. Dominant species in the Smokies include the redbud, dogwood, rhododendron, mountain laurel, and hydrangea.

The northern hardwood forest

The mean annual temperatures in the higher elevations in the Smokies are cool enough to support forest types more commonly found in the northern United States. The northern hardwood forests of the Smokies constitute the highest broad-leaved forest in the eastern United States. About of the northern hardwood forest are old-growth.

In the Smokies, the northern hardwood canopies are dominated by yellow birch and beech. White basswood, mountain and striped maple, and buckeye are also present. The northern hardwood understory is home to diverse species such as coneflower, skunk goldenrod, Rugels ragwort, bloodroot, hydrangea, and several species of grasses and ferns.

One unique community in the northern hardwoods of the Smokies is the beech gap, or beech orchard. Beech gaps consist of high mountain gaps that have been monopolized by beech trees. The beech trees are often twisted and contorted by the high winds that occur in these gaps. Why other tree types such as the red spruce fail to encroach into the beech gaps is unknown.

The spruce-fir forest

Spruce-fir canopy near the summit of Mt.
Guyot


The spruce-fir forest— also called the "boreal" or "Canadian" forest— is a relic of the Ice Ages, when mean annual temperatures in the Smokies were too cold to support a hardwood forest. While the rise in temperatures between 12,500 and 6,000 years ago allowed the hardwoods to return, the spruce-fir forest has managed to survive on the harsh mountain tops, typically above . About of the spruce-fir forest are old-growth.

The spruce-fir forest consists primarily of two conifer species— red spruce and Fraser Fir. The Fraser Firs, which are native to Southern Appalachia, once dominated elevations above in the Great Smokies. Most of these firs were killed, however, by an infestation of the balsam wooly adelgid, which arrived in the Smokies in the early 1960s. Thus, red spruce is now the dominant species in the range's spruce-fir forest. Large stands of dead Fraser Firs remain atop Clingmans Dome and on the northwestern slopes of Old Black. While much of the red spruce stands in the Smokies were logged during World War I, the tree is still common throughout the range above . Some of the red spruce trees in the Smokies are believed to be 300 years old, and the tallest rise to over .

The main difference between the spruce-fir forests of Southern Appalachia and the spruce-fir forests in northern latitudes is the dense broad-leaved understory of the former. The spruce-fir understories of the Smokies are home to catawba rhododendron, mountain ash, pin cherry, thornless blackberry, and hobblebush. The herbaceous and litter layers of the spruce-fir forests are poorly-lit year-round, and are thus dominated by shade-tolerant plants such as ferns, namely mountain woodfern and northern lady fern, and over 280 species of mosses.

Wildflowers



Many wildflowers grow in mountains and valleys of the Great Smokies, including bee balm, Solomon's seal, Dutchman's breeches, various trilliums, the Dragon's Advocate and even hardy orchids. There are two native species of rhododendron in the area. The Catawba rhododendron has purple flowers in May and June, while the rosebay rhododendron has longer leaves and blooms white or a light pink in June and July. The orange- to sometimes red-flowered and deciduous flame azalea closely follows along with the Catawbas. The closely-related mountain laurel blooms in between the two, and all of the blooms progress from lower to higher elevations. The reverse is true in autumn, when nearly-bare mountaintops covered in rime ice (frozen fog) can be separated from green valleys by very bright and varied leaf colors. The rhododendrons are broadleafs, whose leaves droop in order to shed wet and heavy snows that come through the region in winter.

Fauna

A bear in the Great Smokies


The Great Smoky Mountains are home to 66 species of mammals, over 240 species of birds, 43 species of amphibians, 60 species of fish, and 40 species of reptiles. The range has the densest black bear population east of the Mississippi River. The black bear has come to symbolize wildlife in the Smokies, and the animal frequently appears on the covers of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park's literature. Most of the range's adult eastern black bears weigh between and , although some grow to more than .

These elk are part of a herd which was transplanted to Cataloochee in 2001, in an attempt to reintroduce the species to the Appalachians in North Carolina


Other mammals in the Great Smokies include the white-tailed deer, the population of which drastically expanded with the creation of the national park. The bobcat is the range's only remaining wild cat species, although sightings of mountain lions— which once thrived in the area— are still occasionally reported. The coyote is not believed to be native to the range, but has moved into the area in recent years and is treated as a native species. Two species of fox— the red fox and the gray fox— are found in the Smokies, with red foxes being documented at all elevations. European Boars, introduced as game animals in the early 1900s, thrive in Southern Appalachia but are considered a nuisance due to their tendency to root up and destroy plants. The boars are seen as taking food resources away from bears as well, and the park service has sponsored a program that pays individuals to hunt and kill boars and leave their bodies in locations frequented by bears. The Smokies are home to over two dozen species of rodents, including the endangered northern flying squirrel, and 10 species of bats, including the endangered Indiana bat. The National Park Service has successfully reintroduced river otter and elk into the Great Smokies. An attempt to reintroduce the red wolf in the early 1990s ultimately failed.

The Smokies are home to a diverse bird population due to the presence of multiple forest types. Species that thrive in southern hardwood forests, such as the Red-eyed vireo, Wood Thrush, Wild turkey, Parula warbler, Ruby-throated hummingbird, and Tufted titmouse, are found throughout the range's lower elevations and cove hardwood forests. Species more typical of cooler climates, such as the Raven, Winter wren, Black-capped chickadee, Yellow-bellied sapsucker, Slate-colored Junco, and Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, and Canada warblers, are found in the range's spruce-fir and northern hardwood zones. Ovenbirds, Whip-poor-wills, and Downy woodpeckers live in the drier pine-oak forests and heath balds. Bald eagles and Golden eagles have been spotted at all elevations in the park. Peregrine falcon sightings are also not uncommon, and a Peregrine falcon eyrie is known to have existed near Alum Cave Bluffs throughout the 1930s. Red-tailed hawks, the most common hawk species, have been sighted at all elevations in the range. Owl species residing in the Smokies include the Barred owl, Screech owl, and Saw-whet owl.
Timber rattlesnakes— one of two poisonous snake species in the Smokies— are found at all elevations in the range. The other poisonous snake, the copperhead, is typically found at lower elevations. Other reptiles include the eastern box turtle, the fence lizard, the black rat snake, and the northern water snake.

Jordan's salamander


The Great Smokies are home to one of the world's most diverse salamander populations. Five of the world's nine families of salamanders are found in the range, consisting of up to thirty-one species. A type of Jordan's salamander known as the redcheek salamander is found only in the Smokies. The Imitator salamander is found only in the Smokies and the nearby Plott Balsams and Great Balsam Mountains. Two other species— the Southern gray-cheeked salamander and the Southern Appalachian salamander— occur only in the general region. Other species include the shovelnose, Blackbelly Salamander, Eastern Red-spotted Newt, and Spotted Dusky salamander. The legendary hellbender inhabits the range's swifter streams. Other amphibians include the American toad and the American bullfrog, wood frog, Upland chorus frog, Northern green frog, and spring peeper.

Fish inhabiting the steams of the Smokies include trout, lamprey, darter, shiner, bass, and sucker. The brook trout is the only trout species native to the range, although Northwestern rainbow trout and European brown trout were introduced in the first half of the 20th-century. The larger rainbow and brown trout outcompete the native brook trout for food and habitat at lower elevations. As such, most of the brook trout found in the park today are in streams above 3000 feet in elevation. Trout in the Smokies are generally smaller than other members of their species in different locales. Protected fish species in the range include the smoky and yellowfin madtom, the spotfin chub, and the duskytail darter.

Ecosystem threats

Dead Fraser Firs on the slopes of Old Black


Air pollution may be contributing to increased Red Spruce tree mortality at higher elevations and oak decline at lower elevations, while invasive hemlock woolly adelgids attack Hemlocks and balsam woolly adelgids attack Fraser Firs. Pseudoscymnus tsugae, a type of beetle in the ladybug family, Coccinellidae, has been introduced in an attempt to control the pests..

Visibility now is dramatically reduced by smog from both the Southeastern United States and the Midwest, and smog forecasts are prepared daily by the Environmental Protection Agency for both nearby Knoxville, Tennesseemarker and Asheville, North Carolinamarker.

Environmental threats are the concern of many non-profit environmental stewardship groups, especially The Friends of the Smokies. Formed in 1993, the friends group assists the National Park Service in its mission to preserve and protect the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by raising funds and public awareness, and providing volunteers for needed projects.

History

Prehistory

Native Americans have likely been hunting in the Great Smoky Mountains for 14,000 years. Numerous Archaic period (c. 8000-1000 B.C.) artifacts have been found within the national park's boundaries, including projectile points uncovered along likely animal migration paths. Woodland period (c. 1000 B.C. - 1000 A.D.) sites found within the park contained 2000+-year old ceramics and evidence of primitive agriculture.

The increasing reliance upon agriculture during the Mississippian period (c. 900-1600 A.D.) lured Native Americans away from the game-rich forests of the Smokies and into the fertile river valleys on the outer fringe of the range. Substantial Mississippian-period villages were uncovered at Citicomarker and Toquamarker (named after the Cherokee villages that later thrived at these sites) along the Little Tennessee River in the 1960s. Fortified Mississippian-period villages have been excavated at the McMahan Indian Mounds in Seviervillemarker and more recently in Townsendmarker. Most of these villages were part of a minor chiefdom centered around a large village known as Chiahamarker, which was located on an island now submerged by Douglas Lakemarker. The 1540 expedition of Hernando de Soto and the 1567 expedition of Juan Pardo passed through the French Broad River valley north of the Smokies, both spending a considerable amount of time at Chiaha. The Pardo expedition followed a trail across the flanks of Chilhowee Mountainmarker to the Mississippian-period villages at Chilhowee and Citico (Pardo's notary called them by their Muskogean names, "Chalahume" and "Satapo").

The Cherokee

By the time the first English explorers arrived in Southern Appalachia in the late 1600s, the Cherokee controlled much of the region, and the Great Smoky Mountains lay at the center of their territory. One Cherokee legend tells of a magical lake hidden deep within the range, but inaccessible to humans. Another tells of a captured Shawnee medicine man named Aganunitsi who, in exchange for his freedom, travels to the remote sections of the range in search of the Uktena. The Cherokee called Gregory Bald Tsitsuyi, or "rabbit place," and believed the mountain to be the domain of the Great Rabbit. Other Cherokee place names in the Smokies included Duniskwalgunyi, or "forked antlers", which referred to the Chimney Tops, and kuwahi, or "mulberry place", which referred to Clingmans Dome.

Most Cherokee settlements were located in the river valleys on the outer fringe of the Great Smokies range. The Smokies, along with the Unicois, provided the main bulwark dividing the Overhill Cherokee villages in modern Tennessee from the Cherokee Middle towns in modern North Carolina. The Overhill town of Chilhoweemarker was situated at the confluence of Abrams Creek and the Little Tennessee, and the Overhill town of Tallasseemarker was located just a few miles upstream near modern Calderwood (both village sites are now under Chilhowee Lake). A string of Overhill villages, including Chotamarker and Tanasimarker, dotted the Little Tennessee valley north of Chilhowee. The Cherokee Middle towns included the village of Kittowamarker (which the Cherokee believed to be their oldest village) along the Tuckasegee River near Bryson City. The village of Oconaluftee, which was situated along the Oconaluftee River near the modern Oconaluftee Visitor Center, was the only known permanent Cherokee village located within the national park's boundaries. Sporadic or seasonal settlements were located in Cades Cove and the Hazel Creek valley.

European settlement

Communities past and present of the Great Smoky Mountains (the green areas denote the modern national park)


European explorers and settlers began arriving in Western North Carolina and East Tennessee in the mid-1700s. The influx of settlers at the end of the French and Indian War brought conflict with the Cherokee, who still held legal title to much of the land. When the Cherokee aligned themselves with the British at the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1776, American forces launched an invasion of Cherokee territory. The Middle towns, including Kittuwa, were burned by General Griffith Rutherford, and several of the Overhill towns were burned by John Sevier. By 1805, the Cherokee had ceded control of the Great Smokies to the U.S. government. Although much of the tribe was forced west along the Trail of Tears in 1838, a few— largely through the efforts of William Holland Thomas— managed to retain their land on the Qualla Boundary and today comprise the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

In the 1780s, several frontier outposts had been established along the outskirts of the Smokies, namely Whitson's Fort in what is now Cosbymarker and Wear's Fort in what is now Pigeon Forge. Permanent settlers began arriving in these areas in the 1790s. In 1801, the Whaley brothers, William and John, moved from North Carolina to become the first settlers in what is now the Greenbriermarker section of the park. The following year, Edgefield, South Carolinamarker resident William Ogle (1751-1803) arrived in White Oak Flats where he cut and prepared logs for cabin construction. Although Ogle died shortly after returning to Edgefield, his wife, Martha Jane Huskey, eventually returned with her family and several other families to White Oak Flats, becoming the first permanent settlers in what would eventually become Gatlinburg. Their children and grandchildren spread out southward into the Sugarlandsmarker and Roaring Forkmarker areas. Cades Cove was settled largely by families who had purchased lots from land speculator William "Fighting Billy" Tipton. The first of these settlers, John and Lucretia Oliver, arrived in 1818. Two Cades Cove settlers, Moses and Patience Proctor, crossed over to the North Carolina side of the Smokies in 1836 to become the first Euro-American settlers in the Hazel Creek area. The Cataloocheemarker area was first settled by the Caldwell family, who migrated to the valley in 1834.

Like most of Southern Appalachia, the early 19th-century economy of the Smokies relied on subsistence agriculture. The average farm consisted of roughly , part of which was cultivated and part of which was woodland. Early settlers lived in x log cabins, although these were replaced by more elaborate log houses and eventually, as lumber became available, by modern frame houses. Most farms included at least one barn, a springhouse (used for refrigeration), a smokehouse (used for curing meat), a chicken coop (protected chickens from predators), and a corn crib (kept corn dry and protected it from rodents). Some of the more industrious farmers operated gristmills, general stores, and sorghum presses. Religion was a central theme in the lives of the early residents of the Smokies, and community life was typically centered around churches. Christian Protestantism— especially Primitive Baptism, Missionary Baptism, Methodism, and Presbyterianism— dominated the religious culture of the region.

The American Civil War

While both Tennessee and North Carolina joined the Confederacy at the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, Union sentiment in the Great Smoky Mountains was much stronger relative to other regions in these two states. Generally, the communities on the Tennessee side of the Smokies supported the Union, while communities on the North Carolina side supported the Confederates. On the Tennessee side, 74% of Cocke Countians, 80% of Blount Countians, and 96% of Sevier Countians voted against secession. On the North Carolina side, Haywood County, Jackson County, and Macon County (Swain was formed from parts of the latter two in 1870) voted for secession.

While no major engagements took place in the Smokies, minor skirmishes were fairly common. Cherokee chief William Holland Thomas formed a Confederate legion made up mostly of Cherokee soldiers. Thomas' Legion crossed the Smokies in 1862 and occupied Gatlinburg for several months to protect salt peter mines atop Mount Le Conte. Residents of predominantly-Union Cades Cove and predominantly-Confederate Hazel Creek routinely crossed the mountains to steal one others' livestock. Residents of Cosby and Cataloochee did likewise. One notable Civil War incident in the Smokies was the murder of long-time Cades Cove resident Russell Gregory (for whom Gregory Bald is named), which was carried out by bushwhackers in 1864 shortly after Gregory had led an ambush that routed a band of Confederates seeking to wreak havoc in the cove. Another incident was George Kirk's raid on Cataloochee, in which Kirk killed or wounded 15 Union soldiers recovering at a makeshift hospital.

Logging

While selective logging occurred in the Great Smoky Mountains throughout the 19th century, the general inaccessibility of the range's forests prevented major logging operations, and lumber firms relied on the lowland forests in the northeastern United States and the Mississippi Delta in the southeast. As timber resources in these regions became exhausted, and as the demand for lumber skyrocketed after the Civil War, entrepreneurs began looking for ways to reach the virgin forests of Southern Appalachia. The first logging operations in the Smokies, which began in the 1880s, used splash dam systems to move logs from the mountains to lumber mills in nearby cities. Notable splash dam operations included the English Lumber Company on Little River, the Taylor and Crate operations along Hazel Creek, and the ambitious operations of Alexander Arthur on the Pigeon River. All three of these operations failed within their first few years, however, after the splash dam systems were destroyed by floods.

Innovations in logging railroads and band saw technology in the late 1800s made large-scale logging possible in the mountainous areas of Southern Appalachia. The largest logging operation in the Smokies was the Little River Lumber Company, which logged the Little River watershed between 1901 and 1939. The company also established company towns at Townsend (named for the company's chief owner and manager, Wilson B. Townsend), Elkmontmarker, and Tremontmarker. The second-largest operation was the Ritter Lumber Company, which logged the Hazel Creek watershed between 1907 and 1928. Ruins of Ritter's lumbering operations are still visible along the Hazel Creek Trail. Other lumbering operations included Three M Lumber and Champion Fibre, both of which logged the Oconaluftee watershed. By the time all operations ceased in the 1930s, logging firms had removed two-thirds of the virgin forests of the Smokies.

The national park

Wilson B. Townsend, the head of Little River Lumber, began advertising Elkmont as a tourist destination in 1909. Within a few years, the Wonderland Hotel and the Appalachian Club had been established to cater to elite Knoxvillians seeking summer mountain getaways. In the early 1920s, several Appalachian Club members, among them Knoxville businessman Colonel David Chapman, began seriously considering a movement to establish a national park in the Great Smokies. As head of the Great Smoky Mountains Park Commission, Chapman was largely responsible for raising funds for land purchases and coordinating park efforts between local, state, and federal entities.

The creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park proved much more complex than the creation of its predecessors, such as Yellowstonemarker and Yosemitemarker, which were already federally owned. Along with convincing logging firms to sell lucrative lumber rights, the Park Commission had to negotiate the purchase of thousands of small farms and remove entire communities. The commission also had to deal with the Tennessee and North Carolina legislatures, which at times were opposed to spending taxpayer money on park efforts. In spite of these difficulties, the Park Commission had completed most major land purchases by 1932. The national park officially opened in 1934, with President Franklin D. Roosevelt presiding over the opening ceremony at Newfound Gap.

Culture and tourism

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park provides a breath-taking view in the fall.


The culture of the area is that of Southern Appalachia, and previously the Cherokee people. Tourism is key to the area's economy, particularly in cities like Pigeon Forgemarker and Gatlinburgmarker in Tennessee, and Cherokee, North Carolinamarker.

Rafting, either leisurely river tubing or in full whitewater, is common all summer. Downhill skiing is also done in winter, though for a short season, at places like Cataloochee and Ober Gatlinburg.

Country music singer Dolly Parton was born and raised on a small farm in the Smokies. She writes many songs concerning her Tennessee upbringing, and starred in the 1986 film, A Smoky Mountain Christmas.

References

  1. National Park Service
  2. Rose Houk, Great Smoky Mountains National Park: A Natural History Guide (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993), 198.
  3. Houk, 50.
  4. Houk, 112, 119.
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  6. Southern Appalachian Precipitation Study
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  10. Great Smoky Mountains - Nature & Science
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  14. Marti Davis, " Serene virgin forest gives respite from July heat." Knoxnews.com, 9 July 2006. Retrieved: 19 May 2008.
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  18. 28-29.
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  22. Donald Linzey, Mammals of Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Blackburg, Va.: McDonald & Woodward Publishing Co., 1995), 1.
  23. Linzey, 88-89.
  24. Linzey, 65-66.
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  26. Wild Hogs In The Smokies All Things Considered, National Public Radio, 4-7-1998
  27. Linzey, 1, 21, 40.
  28. Great Smoky Mountains National Park — Mammals. 24 July 2006. Retrieved: 3 November 2008.
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  30. Stupka, 13-14.
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  33. Stupka, 12, 67-72.
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  36. Dodd, 185-186.
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  42. Great Smoky Mountains National Park — Fish. 8 March 2007. Retrieved: 3 November 2008.
  43. http://www.friendsofthesmokies.org/aboutus.html
  44. Lisa Byerley Gary, " Park Archaeologists Provide Clues to the Past and Future of the Human Race." 2001. Retrieved: 16 August 2008.
  45. National Park Service, " Cades Cove Opportunities Plan" (October 2004), 5-6. Retrieved: 28 August 2008 (Large .pdf file)
  46. Richard Polhemus, The Toqua Site — 40MR6, Vol. I (Norris, Tenn.: Tennessee Valley Authority, 1987), 1240-1246.
  47. Tennessee Historical Commission Marker IC-69, "The McMahan Indian Mound," in Sevierville, Tennessee. Information accessed 3 September 2007.
  48. Iva Butler, "Archaeologists Pack Up Townsend Dig." The Maryville-Alcoa Daily Times, 17 February 2001.
  49. Charles Hudson, The Juan Pardo Expeditions: Explorations of the Carolinas and Tennessee, 1566-1568 (Tuscaloosa, Ala.: University of Alabama Press, 2005), 36-40, 105.
  50. James Mooney, Myths of the Cherokee and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokee (Nashville: Charles Elder, 1972).
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  60. Oliver, 8-9.
  61. Hattie Caldwell Davis, Cataloochee Valley: Vanished Settlements of the Great Smoky Mountains (Alexander, N.C.: Worldcomm, 1997), 17-32.
  62. Jerry Wear, Sugarlands: A Lost Community of Sevier County (Sevierville, Tennessee: Sevierville Heritage Committee, 1986), 5–6.
  63. Eric Lacy, Vanquished Volunteers: East Tennessee Sectionalism from Statehood to Secession (Johnson City, Tenn.: East Tennessee State University Press, 1965), pp. 217-233.
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  74. Campbell, 13-18, 32.
  75. Daniel Pierce, The Great Smokies: From Natural Habitat to National Park (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2000), 111-120.


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