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Great Smoky Mountains National Park (6)  



The Smoky Mountains

Forest & Stream

Newfound Gap

Clingman's Dome

Sugarlands Area

Oconoluftee Area

Cades Cove Area

Cades Cove Buildings





Cades Cove Buildings

Cades Cove was once a vital and bustling community of mountain people. It was truly one of the most lovely, and productive, areas in the Smoky Mountains. Supposedly named for a Cherokee chief, the first settlers in Caves Cove arrived in 1794. However, nobody has lived in the area since the 1950's.

The first settler in the Cades Cove area was John Oliver who arrived in 1818. His cabin, which dates to the 1820's, is preserved in the Cove and is pictured below. It is a typical cabin of the sort utilized by many settlers and was built in a highly skilled manner. The corners of logs fit together so precisely that nails are not required to keep them together. In fact, Cades Cove featured some of the finest log buildings in America.

The picture below shows the land out in front of John Oliver's Cabin and provides a good example of the rail fences which are characteristic of many farms in Cades Cove. The fences were used to keep animals of various types on one side or the other, but they also provided a good use for some of the many trees which were felled to keep the fields open. These fences required little care, and as can be seen in this photograph they blended nicely into the rustic background. The fences were laid out in several different configurations, including the zig-zag pattern of this fence. This is referred to as a "worm" or "snake" fence.

Religion was very important to many of the settlers. The Missionary Baptist Church was formed in 1839. The building below was originally built in 1915.

The Methodist Church was organized in the 1820's. Below is a picture of the Methodist Church building, which dates to about 1902. Interestingly, the building was built by a single person, J. D. McCampbell, in 115 days for about $115.

The Cades Cove area has its own visitor center, which contains exhibits of life in the mountains around 1900. The building itself is of recent construction and is not historic.

At the west end of the cove is the Cable Mill area which contains a collection of old buildings which were assembled from various places in the park.

John P. Cable's mill was used to grind corn. This structure is in part original, including millstones, some gears, and the main framing, but some portions of the structure have been rebuilt.

Cantilevered barns with large overhangs were common. The overhang could provide shelter for farm equipment or animals in inclement weather. The cantilever design, with overhangs, was a design which was not original to Cades Cove but which originated hundreds of years ago in Europe. In some cases support beams have later been added to provide additional support to the building.

The structure pictured below is the crib where corn hauled in from the field, dumped, and stored, still on the cob. Small quantities of corn could be dumped into the crib through the little hatch in the front of the building. Corn was dried in this building before being taken to the mill.

Many farms had more than a single barn, especially if there were more than a single generation of people living at the farm. Many farms had large barns because of the significant numbers of livestock present.

The Gregg-Cable house was built by Leason Gregg in 1879. It is possible the first framed house built in Cades Cove. Settlers aspired to a home like this, and if they could build one would convert their original log house to a barn or storage building. It served as a store and boarding house, as well as a private residence. There were often vegetable garden near the house, and nearly every mountain woman had a flower garden somewhere around her house. In this picture the smokehouse is shown to the left of the house, and the cane mill and molasses furnace is in the front.

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

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