Smoky Mountain Mall

Cades Cove
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.



Cades Cove Menu Guide
1. Settling Cades Cove Tn
| 2. Sparks Lane | 3. John Oliver Place
4. Primitive Baptist Church | 5. Methodist Church | 6. Hyatt Lane
7. Missionary Baptist Church |
8. Cades Cove Road (Rich Mountain Road)
9. Cooper Road Trail | 10. Elijah Oliver Place
11. Cable Mill Area | 12. Henry Whitehead Place
13. Cades Cove Nature Trail | 14. Hyatt Lane | 15. Dan Lawson Place
16. Tipton Place | 17. Carter Shields Cabin | 18. Sparks Lane


Except for the mill, old buildings in this complex were assembled here from other places in the park. The blacksmith shop was constructed in recent years, and is typical of original ones.

Cades Cove Visitor Center:

The visitor center is open daily during the summer and fall season, usually from about mid-April through October. It was constructed in 1972, and is not an historic structure. Personnel provide information on Cades Cove, and assistance in emergencies. Exhibits inside illustrate rural life in the mountains around 1900. Interpretive literature, post cards, film, maps, etc. are available.

Blacksmith Shop:

Iron was an important material in pioneer life. The blacksmith, its master, was a requisite figure in most communities. He pounded violently on material from the depths of Hell, beside a fire from the same place, to forge a graceful candlestick. From under his hammer came the tools of life: axes, adzes, drawknives and froes; bolts and bits, chains and hooks; the bull tongue plow and the wagon tire. He made and repaired the bits and pieces that cut, dug, hung, dragged, bore through, or held together most everything else.

Cantilever Barn:

Large barns were common in Cades Cove because of the considerable number of transient and resident livestock. The loft of this one would hold many tons of hay and fodder. The large overhang sheltered many head of animals and sundry farm equipment, without posts to get in the way of traffic. Cantilever construction (counterweighted overhanging beams) was used frequently in east Tennessee, but originated centuries ago in Europe. The support posts have been added as a safety measure.

Mill Race and Dam:

The path beside the ditch full of water leads to the mill dam. In order to insure an adequate water supply for his mill, John Cable linked Forge and Mill Creeks with a small diversion canal. He then impounded the water with a log and lumber dam. Water leaves the pond through a watergate, runs through the earthen race, and into the wooden flume. The flume dumps it onto the waterwheel to supply power to the mill.

John Cable Mill:

Corn was a central fact of life to the pioneer. A native American plant, its grain, stalks and foliage fed man and beast. Corn grew dependably with minimum attention, frequently under poor circumstances. It was used for a variety of foods -- bread, mush, grits, hominy -- and at times a potent beverage. But first, it had to be ground into meal.

In the Smokies, single family “tub mills” were numerous but could grind only about a bushel of corn per day. When the need and environment were suitable, a large mill powered by a waterwheel was built and became an important feature in the community. It could grind more grain much faster than a tub mill. A sawmill often operated off the same power unit (and did here), adding another service to the community.

John P. Cable’s mill was not the first in Cades Cove. However, by 1870 or so the population was large enough to support several such businesses. As a rule millers were also farmers anyway, and John Cable was no exception. A large bell used to be mounted atop a pole beside the mill; customers rang it to call the miller in from the orchard or fields. Jim Cable, John’s son, inherited the mill and operated it well into the twentieth century.

The millstones, some of the gears, and the main framing of the structure are original. Other portions have been rehabilitated a couple of times. In a sense, it’s like the old axe that had two new heads and three new handles.


Cades Cove residents, as most mountain people, ate pork in preference to other meat. Freshly killed bear, deer or turkey were welcome, but difficult to preserve for months at a time. Pork was dressed into ham, bacon, jowl, sausage and other products and kept in the meathouse. It could be smoked over a slow fire (thus smokehouse), or cured with salt and other spices to preserve it.

Gregg-Cable House:

Built by Leason Gregg in 1879, this may have been the first framed house in Cades Cove. Moved once and altered as the need arose, it served its owners as a store, boarding house and private residence.

Aunt Becky Cable, John P.’s daughter, bought the house and lived in it till her death in 1940. She helped her brother manage the store, kept boarders, farmed her land, cared for the orphaned children of her brother, and lived to be 96.

A framed house is the kind of dwelling most people aspired to and eventually built, whenever they were able. Old log homes were then converted into barns or storage buildings. By the twentieth century framed houses probably outnumbered log ones in Cades Cove. Several were much larger and finer than this one. Being “new” in the 1930s, they were not preserved by the park.

The yard and garden were usually fenced to keep domestic animals and varmints out of the beds of flowers, herbs and spices, and medicinal plants. The yard was often scraped clean of grass to give small children a snakeless place to play, and because there were no lawn mowers.

In the chimney corner stands an ash hopper. Wood ashes from the stove and fireplace were conveniently stored in the dry until enough accumulated for soapmaking. Water poured through the ashes leached out the lye, which was then boiled with animal fat to make soap. Cooled and cut into cakes, it would clean just about anything.

Vegetable gardens provided variety at the table and generally lay near the house. Most families saved seed from one year to the next but occasionally needed to buy some.

Old store records reveal sales of a surprising array of seedstock: bean, pea, cabbage, turnip, beet, lettuce, tomato, potato and others. Gourd bird houses near the garden attracted beneficial creatures that controlled insect pests.

Corn Crib:

The corn crib was a necessary structure on every mountain farm. The year’s supply of corn was hauled in from the field and dumped into the crib through the high hatch above the wagon. Small portions came out through the little front door. Still on the cob and in the shuck, it would air dry sufficiently to be ground into meal, chicken feed, or fed to livestock. Corn cribs were nearly always long and narrow, with spaces between the logs left open. This promoted air circulation and enhanced the drying. Some, but not all, cribs had “plunder sheds” to protect tools and vehicles from the weather.


Farms often had more than one barn, particularly if more than one generation had lived there. The drive-through design of this one provided a protected place for farm equipment and animals. Milk cows and draft animals were kept in stalls most of the time so they would be close at hand when needed.

Sorghum Mill:

Along with honey, sorghum molasses was a popular sweetener. The cane stalks, stripped of their leaves, were fed into this horsedrawn mill. It squeezed the juice out, which was then boiled down into molasses over the nearby furnace.

The sorghum mill is an interesting contract to the Cable Mill. The farmer had two energy sources: water power and animal power. One was strong but stationary; the other portable but relatively weak. Both served well into this century on mountain farms.

Cades Cove Menu Guide
1. Settling Cades Cove Tn | 2. Sparks Lane | 3. John Oliver Place
4. Primitive Baptist Church | 5. Methodist Church | 6. Hyatt Lane
7. Missionary Baptist Church |
8. Cades Cove Road (Rich Mountain Road)
9. Cooper Road Trail | 10. Elijah Oliver Place
11. Cable Mill Area | 12. Henry Whitehead Place
13. Cades Cove Nature Trail | 14. Hyatt Lane | 15. Dan Lawson Place
16. Tipton Place | 17. Carter Shields Cabin | 18. Sparks Lane


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