Smoky Mountain Mall

Cades Cove Tour

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.

The eleven-mile loop road follows many of the grades and turns of the old wagon roads, fording a stream now and then. Along the way you are likely to see wildlife: deer and wild turkey year-round, lots of groundhogs in the summer.


Cades Cove by Ann Marie Borner

Go carefully and observantly into another place and time, one apart from your existence today. See its sights and hear its sounds. Feel the road rise and fall under you. Stop, get out, and sense the rocky paths under your feet. be carried into the world of organic man, when he was a generalist and not a specialist. He lived each day as it came, solving each problem with hands and mind in common harness. Neither master of his environment nor victim of it, he took what Nature allowed him to have, and made his way.

Settlers first entered the Cove legally after an Indian treaty transferred the land to the State of Tennessee in 1819. Year after year then funnelled through the gaps, driven by whatever haunted them behind or drew them in front, until they spilled over the floor and up the slopes. Most of them traced their way down the migration route from Virginia into east Tennessee (more or less Interstate 81). Tuckaleechee (modern Townsend) was the last point of supply before the leap into Cades Cove. A few years later pioneers moved directly over the mountains from North Carolina. They all came equipped with personal belongings, and the tools and skills of an Old World culture, enriched with what they learned from the Indians.

The people of the Cove did not enter, settle and become shut off from the rest of humanity. They were not discovered by Park developers, still living a pioneer lifestyle. From the beginning they kept up through the newspapers, regular mail service, circuit riding preachers, and buying and selling trips to Tuckaleechee, Maryville and Knoxville. They went to wars and war came to them. They attended church and school, and college if financially able. A resident physician was here most of the time from the 1830’s on. Telephones rang in a few Cove homes about as early as anywhere else (1896).

Although remote and arduous, life here was little different from rural life anywhere in eastern America in the nineteenth century. Household and farm labor were done according to one’s age and sex. Men produced shelter, food, fuel and raw materials for clothing. Women cooked, kept house and processed things the husband produced.

Children and the elderly took care of miscellaneous loose ends when and where they could. In this way the home was an almost self-contained economic unit. The community was an important aspect of life to the settlers in a rural society. It was an extension of the household by marriage, custom, and economic necessity...a partnership of households in association with each other. The community as democratic in a general sense: there were few extremes of wealth and poverty; there was widespread participation in community affairs; and, no clearly defined social classes locked people in or out. There were common celebrations like family gatherings, workings, and funerals. Politics was tied to state, regional and national affairs. Law enforcement was personal in many ways. Justices of the Peace applied common sense, based on common law.



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