Top Historical Sites in the Smokey Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the country, attracting more than 9 million tourists every year. Many travelers come for the exhilarating hiking, dazzling waterfalls and free-roaming wildlife. However, the Smoky Mountains are also a focal point of Southern Appalachian history, and you'll find them speckled with delightful morsels of times past:

Noah "Bud" Ogle Cabin

the great smokey mountains

Head to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in downtown Gatlinburg to explore this log cabin and get a taste of what pioneer life was like in 19th-century Appalachian Mountains. Bud Ogle and his wife built this cabin on their 400-acre farm where they settled in 1879, and it still stands strong today. The cabin was an oddity for its time: It has a running water system and was a "saddlebag" cabin (two single cabins are joined by one chimney). Step outside to see the only standing four-pen barn in the Smoky Mountains.

Gregg-Cable House

Located in Cades Cove, this building dates back to 1879. It was originally erected in another area of the cove, but was moved after the death of its last owner. As the first frame house in the area, it served as both a home and a business place - the first owner, Leason Gregg, and his family lived upstairs and ran a store downstairs, until the John Cable family purchased the home and business.

Caldwell House

Hiram Caldwell and his family were the first people to come to Cataloochee. They arrived in 1814 and, after living in a nearby cabin for years, built this home. It was an innovative design, featuring a framed structure, weatherboarding, shingled gables and interior paneling. The home's warm, pleasant aura is a testament to the tranquil temperament in Cataloochee at the time.

Palmer Chapel

When it was built around 1898, Palmer Chapel was Cataloochee's only church. The framed, rectangular shape is beautifully simple, and inside is a bright, clean room of pews. The town did not have its own minister, so a preacher would visit the Methodist church on every third Sunday of the month. During the annual town reunion, people still gather in Palmer Chapel for service.

Mountain Farm Museum

Mountain Farm Museum is a site containing several log buildings dating back to the late 1800s, including a main house, applehouse, springhouse, smokehouse and barn. These buildings were originally scattered throughout the Smoky Mountains but were gathered in this one location for preservation. You'll find livestock, era-inspired gardens and a visitors center.

Mingus Mill

Walk a halfmile north from Mountain Farm Museum and set your eyes on Mingus Mill. The old grist mill was created in 1886 and was state of the art in its time: The mill's machinery runs off a water-powered turbine rather than a water wheel. This site is only open to visitors mid-March through mid-November, as well as Thanksgiving weekend.

Hannah Cabin

John Jackson Hannah built this home in 1864 and lived here with his family until his death, when his son, Jim, inherited the cabin. Jim was a man of many talents - lawyer, farmer, Sunday school teacher and beekeeper. The simple log cabin design was common in the Appalachian Mountains at the time, though Hannah Cabin has an unusual handmade brick chimney. Jim Hannah continued to live in this cabin even after the area became a national historical park.

Beech Grove School

As settlers began to get cozy in Cataloochee, parents started sending their children to school. Buildings like this one, built in 1901, were used as schoolhouses. Inside, you'll find empty desks, a blackboard and other signs of children hard at study. Today, Beech Grove School is the only schoolhouse remaining in the area.

By Nicole Martinez