About the Site
Great Smoky Mountains National Park (4)  



The Smoky Mountains

Forest & Stream

Newfound Gap

Clingman's Dome

Sugarlands Area

Oconoluftee Area

Cades Cove Area

Cades Cove Buildings





Sugarlands Area

The main visitor center in the northern section of the park is the Sugarlands Visitor Center. The Sugarlands area itself was originally named for the existence of numerous sugar maple trees which could be found in the valley.

The Sugarlands Valley area is narrow with many rocks and boulders, and features homestead-sized sections of level land which proved to be popular with settlers.

John Ownby's log cabin can be found along the Sugarland Nature Trail. This building has been rehabilitated by the National Park Service, preserving original building materials, as it is the last remaining log building in the Sugarlands area. The logs are from yellow poplar and white pine.

An park administrative building near the trail provides a bit of modern architecture which contrasts with very old log buildings.

Oconoluftee Area

The south entrance to the park, on the North Carolina side, passes through the Oconoluftee area. The road through the park from this entrance leads to the north through the Newfound Gap. Below is a view from the Oconoluftee visitor area back toward Newfound Gap. The original Oconoluftee Turnpike to the top of the mountains was completed in 1839.

The Oconoluftee area is a popular spot for park tourists and features a rustic Visitors Center, shown below.

The Oconoluftee area was one of the earliest parts of the park settled by pioneers, dating to around 1800.

One of the more interesting attractions in the Oconoluftee area is the 19th century Pioneer Farmstead display. This is meant to give the visitor an idea of how the people of the Smoky Mountain area lived and worked. The area features a number of buildings, most of which have actually been relocated here from other parts of the park.

Below is the farmhouse on display in the Pioneer Farmstead.

Barns and work buildings can also be found in this display.

To the north of the main Oconoluftee visitor area is the Mingus Mill, built for an early settler named John Jacob Mingus. The Mingus family originally came to the area in the 1790's, and in 1886 Dr. Mingus commissioned a man named Sion T. Early to build the mill for $600. The building, constructed of yellow poplar, houses a mill with two sets of grinding stones to grind corn into meal or wheat into flour. The picture below shows how the water is brought though a flume to drive a cast iron turbine, rather than a common water wheel.

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  • All photographs ©Patrick Holleran, Shannon Digital Imaging, 1994-2013

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