The story of Cades Cove is the story of the community that existed 115 years ago, between 1821 – when families began moving into the cove to settle – and 1936, when the area became part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Who were the people who came to make their homes here? What was life like for them, somewhat separated from the mainstream of American development, in this secluded – though not isolated – mountain area? What is our debt to those who sacrificed their ancestral homes so that we and the generations to follow can know and share these meadows and mountains?

cades cove landscape green grass field wooden historic 19 century fence

Cades Cove is nestled in a beautiful valley of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is reached by following the natural meanders of a beautiful mountain stream for several miles until the road leaves the stream and climbs to enter Cades Cove, which lies imbedded in the midst of surrounding mountains. The cove stretches 5 miles in length and 2 miles in width, and is completely hemmed in by mountains. As you wind along the modern highway into the cove, you might well wonder how the first man found this secluded spot and how the first settlers managed to get their families and belongings over the rugged mountains into this place.

Cades Cove stood out from among the Great Smokies as land that could be tamed. Nature had created in the cove a flat mountain valley of fertile land that was attractive to Agrarian people. It was only a matter of time before pioneers on their way westward would stop here and stay. They would settle, clear the land, and raise their crops and livestock. As more people came in to the area, they would form governments, churches, schools, and community ties.

The Europeans were the first people to settle in the Cove in 1818. Most migrated from the Watauga Settlement in Northeast Tennessee. Before their arrival, Cades Cove was part of the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee called the cove Tsiyahi, “place of the river otter.” In addition to river otters, elk and bison lived in the cove. The Cherokees never lived in the cove; they camped and hunted in the cove for weeks, perhaps months at a time, and used the cove as a summer hunting ground. Arrowheads are common throughout the cove.

Cades Cove was not yet open for settlement in 1818; it was still part of the Cherokee Nation. A few white settlers may have already been in the area, but no one could legally own land there until 1819 when the Cherokees relinquished their claim through the Calhoun Treaty. However, there is no evidence that Cherokee Villages existed in the Cove.

Cherokee removal opened Cades Cove and surrounding areas for settlement without fear of Indian harassment. Beginning a new life in Cades Cove was basically the same for everyone. The East end of the Cove was settled first, being higher and drier than the swampy lower end. Girdling them with an axe cleared huge trees. The first crops were planted among the soon-dead timber. After a few years the standing trees were cut down, rolled into piles and burned. Orchards and permanent fields followed quickly on the “new ground.” Common sense told farmers to reserve the flat land for corn, wheat, oats and rye. Their homes circled the central basin, and pastures and wood lots hung on the slopes. Apples, peaches, beans, peas and potatoes were supplemented with wild greens and berries. Meat was varied and plentiful. Cattle grazed in the summer on the balds (grassy meadows “bald” of trees) high above the Cove. White deer, bear, wild turkey and domestic hogs ranged the woods.

Settlers first entered the cove legally after an Indian treaty transferred the land to the State of Tennessee in 1819. A few years later, pioneers moved directly over the mountains from North Carolina. Over the trails and roads they came, carrying their few household goods, their tools, their Bibles, their seeds. They came to clear the forests and make their living from the loamy soil. They built sturdy cabins from the trees that fell, and then built barns and corncribs and fences. The earliest pioneers must have been a heterogeneous group, with many different motivations driving them westward. But as the more restless ones moved on, those who remained in Cades Cove became more cohesive, bound by a common manner of life. Life was not easy in the small community. The people worked hard and enjoyed their pleasures when they could. 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. Among other early families were Olivers, Tiptons, Shields, Burchfields, Cables, Sparkses, and Gregorys.

Cades Cove was a prosperous valley and it would return a good living for those who used it well. Each family provided for its own goods. Separated from the main American marketplace, people here had little use of cash in the day-to-day life of the Cove. They depended upon themselves and their neighbors for the food and few comforts they enjoyed.

When school was in session, the children had few chores, since they were usually leaving home quite early. A school day was from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m, and those who had to walk several miles left home early and returned home late. The usual chores were to stack the woodpile beside the front door and to fill the stove box in the kitchen.

Not all occasions associated with the home were chores and school. There were weddings and happy times in Cades Cove, and social events at holiday times. For instance, a peculiar type of socializing marked Christmas Eve. Many of the young men and occasionally young women as well, would gang up on horseback or on foot and go from house to house serenading. This consisted of parading around the house several times, shooting guns, raising cowbells, and yelling loudly. The custom was for the host to come out after a few minutes and share a bit of liquid Christmas joy with the group. The people of Cades Cove were very independent; they enjoyed their occasional social in the community churches, schools, and homes.

In sum, the “good life” in the cove was realized through industry, frugality, neighborliness, and loyalty.

Of the forty-four families in Cades Cove in 1830, only thirteen were still in the cove in 1840. Only four of these thirteen were there in 1850. The Tiptons left in the 1840’s but returned in the 1850’s for the rest of the life of the cove. Only two families, the Shields and the Olivers were actually there throughout the life of the cove. Some families (Burchfields, Sparks, Anthony, and Gregory) entered in the 1830’s and persisted.

The population of the Cove by 1850 peaked at 685. With the soil growing tired and new states opening in the West, many families moved out in search of more fertile frontiers. By 1860, only 269 people remained. Slowly, human numbers rose again to about 500, just before the park was established in the late 1920s.

The settlers of Cades Cove came and went over roads that were rugged and crude, but tied the secluded valley to outlands throughout its history. The original roads were called Indian trails. These pathways had served the Cherokee as access through Cades, Tuckaleechee, and Wears Coves – to the settlements of the Holston Valley to the northeast. They were trade routes as well as warpaths.

Between 1928 and 1936, what was to be the final transfer of Cades Cove land occurred. The State of Tennessee purchased 105 parcels of land to be part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Resident owners held a total of 11,273 acres. In exchange for their land, they received a sum of $442,950.00 or about $39.00 per acre. This was considered a fair price at the time. The money paid to them cannot erase the debt we still owe these people for giving up their ancestral homes. Many families moved out immediately when the land sales began in 1928. Only a few chose to remain on their homesite when the privileges were offered to them. The few families that still lived in the cove were leases of the National Park Services, raising horses and cattle to maintain the open meadow nature of the valley. The park authorities allowed several families to remain in the park subject to certain restrictions. The number of families has gradually dwindled so that none remain today.

The history of the people of Cades Cove…

The exact date of the Olivers’ arrival in Cades Cove is not clear. Members of the family claim that John and Luraney Fraizer moved into the cove in 1818; and if so, they were there illegally since the area was Cherokee territory until the Calhoun treaty in 1819. They gradually invaded their territories as fast as new lines were established. There is evidence to indicate that pioneer families had tried out the cove even as early as the 1790’s.

John Oliver settled in the cove with his wife, Luraney Fraizer Oliver. Luraney was a bound girl. This meant that her parents were either deceased or one of them had died and the other no longer could take care of her. Old records in Carter County reflect a John Fraizer placing two of his children on public suffrage. This in essence, was a type of welfare system of the late 1700s, and children who were orphaned or whose parents could no longer care for them were “bound out” by a court order to families to care for them. In turn, these children were kind of like indentured servants until they attained majority age.

John Oliver met Luraney Fraizer and started courting, and then the war of 1812 came along. This is the war where Tennessee got the name as the Volunteer State due to the large numbers of Tennesseans who volunteered to fight. John Oliver marched from East Tennessee into the Horseshoe Bend area of Alabama and fought with troops under the command of Gen. Andrew Jackson. After the battle of Horseshoe Bend, John Oliver returned to Carter County and married Luraney Fraizer. They were extremely poor people. He worked as a collier cutting firewood and burning it to create coke – to fuel iron smelters in the area.

There was little future in this work so it was no surprise that he would be interested when approached by a friend, Joshua Jobe, about settling in a place called Cades Cove. This was before the Calhoun Treaty of 1819 when Cades Cove was within the Cherokee Indian Territory and off limits, supposedly, for white settlement. In any event, Jobe convinced John and Luraney to go to that area and settle. Joshua Jobe accompanied them to the area and then left after they were entrenched in the cove.

The trip from Carter County to Cades Cove, a distance of about 125 miles, took some eight to 10 days. The travelers probably followed the Indian Warpath, which tread from upper East Tennessee down toward the Dandridge area. They probably came through Wears Valley into Townsend and across Rich Mountain into the cove. At that time, there were only trails and no roads. The travelers would have had little more than the clothes on their backs, a rifle, a good ax, knives, possibly a fork or spoon, a Dutch oven, maybe a skillet, a few blankets, fire- starting materials, and little more.

They had a newborn baby and possibly at that time Luraney was pregnant with another daughter. They probably entered into the cove and saw a place of rare beauty, but also a place filled with fear and danger. Bear, mountain lions, panthers, wildcats, and other kinds of wildlife permeated the forests. The land was not cleared and wandering bands of Cherokee populated Cades Cove.

During the first winter in the cove, John and Luraney lived with their baby in an old Indian Reservation. They almost starved to death and were saved from starvation only by the generosity of the Cherokee in the cove. The Cherokee gave them pumpkins and other kinds of food to stave off the condition in which they found themselves in. The food from the Indians, and the wild game that John Oliver shot, saw them through a very rough winter.

The next spring, Jobe returned with other settlers and a community was born. Like many other pioneers that were to follow, the Olivers appeared to have a good life in the cove. Both Jane and Luraney are buried in the cemetery at the Primitive Baptist Church. They had nine children, and as far as anyone knows, neither of them saw a doctor at any time during their lives. John Oliver died around the time of the Civil War, and Luraney lived until the 1880s when she died at 90-some years of age. She was able to obtain a pension as a widow of a solider, in the War of 1812.

When they first entered the cove, it is likely that John and Luraney, who were both illiterates, thought of the 23rd Psalm. They both trusted that the Lord was their Shepherd and that he would lead them “beside still waters.” The path to the still waters in Cades Cove was certainly in the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” in view of the Indian and wild animal threat. In Cades Cove, they dwelt in the earthly house of God until their deaths.

The first Tennessee grant to land in Cades Cove was registered March 23, 1821 in the name of William Tipton for 640 acres in Cades Cove, as assignee of Aaron Crowson. William Tipton was granted two sections to consolidate several previous entries. Although William Tipton never lived in the cove, this was the first recorded legal land title for Cades Cove following the Calhoun Treaty.

William Tipton was a revolutionary soldier who came to Cades Cove from Carter County, Tennessee. Relatives and friends soon surrounded him from Carter County. Among those to whom he sold land were his brother Thomas and Thomas’s son-in-law, Joshua Job; his daughter, Martha Hart; his sons Jacob and Isaac, Thomas Jones and others. Peter and Daniel Cable, Robert Burchfield, James Sparks, and Richard and William Davis are all mentioned as being in the cove before 1830. In fact, their family names can be found on the tombstones in the cemetery in Cades Cove.

State grants continued to be issued through 1890, although those after about 1870 were for title confirmation only, and not for new lands. In all, thirty-six grants were recorded for Cades Cove from 1821 through 1890. The State of Tennessee usually required a fee of a $1.00 per acre for land grants.

For a while, the Cades Cove area remained in the hands of a few grantees; such as William Tipton, the Calloways and the Murray brothers, who claimed ownership to almost the entire watershed of the cove. But eventually, the grant land was sold off, and sometimes in an entire section. Through the years, some individuals established sizable estates. By the late nineteenth century, most of the large estates had been divided and ownership dispersed either by sale or by inheritance.

Robert Shields, another Revolutionary War Veteran, brought his family, in-laws and all, from Virginia to Sevier County, Tennessee. They built a fort at the base of what is now called Shields Mountain, near Pigeon Forge, because they were invading the territory still contested by the Cherokees. The Cherokee Indians, while watering horses outside the fort-killed one of his sons, Thomas, and the son-law. The son-in-law was Joshua Tipton.

In 1819, after the signing of the Calhoun Treaty, the family (already with at least 3 children), moved into the valley of the Little Tennessee River near Chilhowee. Early in the 1820’s, a typhoid epidemic broke out in that community and the family moved on to the headwaters of Forge Creek in the Cades Cove area. The spot they chose was an isolated cove, upstream from where the Gregory Ridge Trail leaves the stream to ascend the ridge. Later they moved out into the cove, first settling on the property of William Tipton, what is now the Tipton-Oliver place.

Robert purchased 1,600 acres of land from William Tipton in 1831. Along with several other men, he opened a bloomery forge to produce a low-grade iron, and with David Emmett built the first overshot water-powered grist and flourmill in the cove. Robert Shields was elected Justice of the Peace of the Sixteenth Civil District, as soon as the district was established and served until he died in 1850.

In June of 1825, Peter and Dan Cable purchased a tract of Cades Cove land. Dan Cable never lived in the cove, although he is listed again in 1836, as a co-buyer with his brother, of the remainder of Thurman property. Another brother, Samuel Cable, moved across the mountain to the headwaters of Hazel Creek, giving rise to the community of Cable Cove. Peter Cable brought his wife, Catherine Hallows to the cove, and the family is recorded in the 1830 census. There were three children, all born in Cades Cove prior to 1830. Peter Cable was active in the community in the early years of the settlement. He was co-founder of the Primitive Baptist Church, and he and John Oliver were agents who signed for the original gift of land to the church by William Tipton. He sold his property to Daniel Lawson in 1856.

John P. Cable was the nephew of Peter Cable, the son of Benjamin. He was born in Carter County, Tennessee in 1819. John married Elizabeth Whitehead, possibly also of Carter County, and they brought their family to Cades Cove in 1867. There is no record of any children being born after that date. The Cables purchased land in 1868 and 1869 for G.W. Feezell. In 1882, John entered for a state grant to consolidate title to a small tract of land lying within the boundaries of his purchase. On this newly purchased land, John P. Cable constructed a water-powered sawmill and gristmill.

Daniel Lawson was the son of Howell and Mary Bird Lawson of Greene County, Tennessee. The family moved to Blount County prior to 1850, although it is not clear whether they first moved to Wear’s Cove or Tuckaleechee Cove. Dan went to work for Peter Cable in Cades Cove and married his older daughter Mary Jane in 1850. Dan Lawson was an influential citizen of the cove and Blount County. He was a postmaster and served for several years as a Justice of the Peace. He added to his original purchase from Peter Cable, especially taking advantage of the public sales of the land of D.D. Foute. Lawson eventually owned a strip of land, running south to north, across the center of the cove. The present Cable Place is a part of the Lawson Home, probably the first portion constructed. From time to time, frame additions were built as the family grew, until the final structure was a rambling style home.

Cades Cove Today…

The people of Cades Cove are gone now and their homesteads are disappearing from view. Only a few people remain who remember the cove as it was. Take a tour through Cades Cove and learn about the people who lived there and what life was like for them. Cades Cove receives 2 million visitors each year. It is the most crowded park destination, and the 11-mile stretch of road that runs through Cades Cove can get congested during peak tourist seasons. Peaks times are June-October; the loop takes from 1 to 2 hours to drive – if traffic isn’t bumper to bumper. Bikers and hikers have the park to themselves in the summer when the loop is closed to motorized vehicles on Wednesday and Saturdays until 10 am. There are 19 stops that explain what life was like back then. The cove offers many activities including hiking, horseback riding, and fishing.

Take a trip around Cades Cove and go back to the times of the simple life. Walk through the preserved homes, churches, and a working mill. Wildlife abounds in the cove; look for sightings of deer, foxes, wild turkeys, coyotes, woodchucks, raccoons, bears, and red wolves. View the beautiful mountain vistas that climb from the valley floor to the sky. A variety of fascinating buildings can be seen in Cades Cove; along with cabins and historical churches, there is Smithy Smokehouse, corncribs and a cantilevered barn.

Cades Cove Guide

Sparks Lane – This North-South lane crosses the cove, and was part of a family-to-family road system that evolved by 1840s. It is a two-way short cut back to the campground or out of the cove.

John Oliver Place – This is one of over seventy historic buildings in the park today. The collections are believed to be the largest of their kind in the east. John Oliver arrived in the cove prior to 1820. The Oliver’s bought land in the Cove in 1826, and this cabin site remained in the family until the Park was established. Large families often lived in such buildings. Living arrangements differed from family to family. Parents and infants and daughters slept on the first floor and sons slept on the second floor in the loft. Privacy in the home was rare. Life centered in the main room of the cabin. Children were welcomed. The more kids, the lighter the farm work. Older folks lived here too. A head count of ten to twelve under one roof was not unusual.

The house is typical of many found on the eastern frontier in the mid 1850s, and reflects the skills and techniques brought into the mountains by the descendants of the British and European immigrants. Mules, muscles, simple tools, and neighborly help were needed to fell the trees, and get them to the building site and build the house. The round logs were scored along their length with a felling ax, then hewn with a broad ax. The corners were notched and needed no nails or pegs to hold them together. Open spaces between were filled with mud to seal out the wind. The stone chimney was held together with mud mortar. Such a home as the Oliver cabin was used as a business, school, hospital, and nursing home.

Primitive Baptist Church – Some of the earliest settlers organized this church in 1827, and a log building served their needs until 1887. During the Civil War the church ceased to meet, but reopened after the war was over with a revised membership list. The Confederate sympathizers were absent. The present building dates from 1894 when there were about 40 members. Enrollment eventually rose to 115. In the cemetery lie Olivers, Gregorys, Shields, Anthonys and others who first populated the cove. Notice the different kinds of stones, the infant burials, and other hints of life as it once was here.

Methodist Church – The structure and its finishing were reportedly the work of one man. J.D Campbell, a blacksmith and carpenter, built it in 115 days for $115. He became the preacher for many years. Methodists were not as numerous as Baptists in the cove. The Civil War and Reconstruction divided the church, as they did other Methodist congregations. Dissidents formed Hopewell Methodist Church on the opposite side of the Cove; it no longer stands. The church has two front doors; this usually indicates the church follows the custom of men sitting on one side and the women on the other. But this church didn’t follow these customs. The two doors are there because the church borrowed the building plans of another church that did divide its congregation by gender.

Hyatt Lane – Once a part of a Cherokee trail, this two-way road across the Cove later served residents and now is used by visitors. This road crossed the cove and joined the Cades Cove Road {Rich Mountain Road}. It was a direct route out of the cove from the south side, for those going to Tuckaleechee and Maryville. Hyatt Lane is a two-way road, and can be used as a shortcut back to the campground or out of the cove.

Rich Mountain Road – Three roads have crossed the mountain starting at about this point, all-leading to Tuckaleechee Cove on the other side. An Indian trail across the mountain was the primary route into the Cove for the first settlers. In the 1830s, a wagon road known as the Cades Cove Road, was built over the mountain, and served for nearly a hundred years as the main access to Tuckaleechee. The State of Tennessee built the present road in the 1920s. It is 12 miles long, with one-way traffic to the Park boundary. Beautiful glimpses of the entire cove are visible from the top of this road. The road is closed in the winter months.

Cooper Road Trail – now a pleasant hiking trail, much of the Cooper Road was first a part of an Indian Trail. Daniel David Foute, a big property owner in the cove, laid it out in the 1830s as part of the route to Maryville. In the 1840s, Joe Cooper improved it to a wagon road status. It was the most direct route to Maryville for people in the western end of the cove. Hauling goods in and out in good weather was difficult – in rainy weather, almost impossible. Ten or twelve miles per day was average time, so shopping trips took about three days and nights. Newspapers and gossip usually returned with the wagoneer.

Elijah Oliver Place – Elijah Oliver, son of John Oliver, whose cabin mentioned earlier was born in the cove in 1824. After he married, he and his family moved out of the cove before the Civil War. After the war, he bought this property and moved back in. In the time and place of this family, more buildings were required for living than are now. With no refrigerator or freezer, they needed the springhouse to keep milk and butter cool. They needed the smokehouse to store and preserve hams, shoulders, and side meat for an entire year. They ate mostly pork because it was easier to preserve than other meats. They needed a corncrib to store enough for grinding into meal to last until the next harvest.

The locations of the buildings are significant. The house faces west with its southern shoulder against the prevailing winds and summer heat. Nearby, the garden is sprawled on a warm south slope convenient to the house. The smokehouse huddles close to the kitchen secure from animal and human intruders. The springhouse looks down on everything else, insuring a clean water supply while the barn stands below all other buildings.

Although they all look alike, you will notice differences in workmanship and use of wood material among these structures. Several show the same hasty selection of logs, with very little hewing and many knots and limb stubs remaining. Another shows much more care in the choice and use of materials, with corner notching of a more durable type and better executed. Yet another is made of split logs, each half going into an opposite wall, reducing the number of trees needed to build it. Do you think that the same man built them all at the same time?

There are other things to look for — points of function and beauty. Peg holes in the logs on the porch tell that a weaver lived here. Smoke from thousands of fires still clings to the kitchen walls. The creamy smoothness of the mud chinking sets off the rough texture of the logs — (run your fingertips across both). In the chimney, bees have made a home in someone else’s home. The spring – in winter the water is so cold it’ll crack your teeth. Pause, and feel this place with your whole being.

Everything around you here speaks of an organic society, living off things that could be found or grown at home. The human settlers that lived among these logs were almost as much children of the forest as the other beasts. They pressed close to the breast of the earth and danced with the seasons far more than us. Like the beaver and the paper hornet, they built shelter from native woods. They and the bears robbed bee trees and berry bushes. They took live prey, as did other predators. These buildings merely refined man’s life here. Rugged as it was, the pioneer at least understood the how and why of his existence. If a dough bowl split, he knew the cause lay in the seasoning of the wood, not in the miscalculation of some unknown plastic technician in a far away land.

Much later than the time of Elijah Oliver, just one family in the cove had water piped from a spring into the house to a homemade kitchen sink. Two or three of the families piped water from springs to faucets just outside their house.

The Cable Mill Area – The gristmill is on its original site. Other historic buildings in this complex were brought from elsewhere in the park. The blacksmith shop was constructed in recent years, and is typical of original ones. The building now houses the Cades Cove Visitor Center. The visitor center is open daily during the summer and fall season usually from about mid-April through October. Built in 1972, it is where visitors may obtain information, and buy books, post cards, film, maps, guides, and other items. Personnel provide information on Cades Cove, and assistance in emergencies. Exhibits inside illustrate rural life in the mountains around 1900.

Blacksmith Shop – Iron was an important material in pioneer life. The blacksmith, was a requisite figure in most communities. With his strong muscles and his heavy hammer came the tools of life axes, adzes, drawknives, 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. Iron from the fire is very malleable capable of being reshaped from one tool to another.

Cantilever Barn – Large barns were common in Cades Cove where farmers needed shelter in the cold months for the livestock they grazed in the mountains during the warm season. The overhang in cantilever barns such as this one provided shelter for animals, and storage space for farm equipment. 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 – Starting near where the wooden flume dumps its load of water onto the top of the mill wheel, you can follow the path beside the flume to the earthen ditch, and then continue beside the ditch to the mill dam and the mill pond behind the dam. The path beside the ditch full of water leads to the milldam. A Watergate at the dam is opened to send water down the millrace to the wheel.

John Cable Mill – John P Cable, bought land in the cove in the late 1860’s. He built a water-powered gristmill and sawmill in about 1870. The same mill provides power for both mills. The millstones, some of the gears and the main framing of the structure are original. Other portions have been rehabilitated a couple of times. 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.

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.

Smokehouse – The Smokehouse was where smoking or salting cured large sections of hogs, and then stored for use until the next hog-killing time. Cades Cove residents, as most mountain people, ate pork in preference to other meat. Freshly killed bear, deer, or turkey was 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 meat house.

Gregg-Cable House – Leason Gregg bought an acre of land from John P. Cable in 1879 and built a small house on it with lumber sawed at Cable’s Mill. He later enlarged the house from time to time. This may have been the first framed house in Cades Cove.

Corn Crib – Corn was the most important crop in the cove. People ground it into meal for making bread, and for some of them to make moonshine. They fed it to mules, horses, hogs and chickens. The years 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. Corncribs were nearly always long and narrow, with spaces between the logs left open. This promoted air circulation and enhanced the drying. Corn shucking was sometimes a social event, where fellow finding a red ear got to kiss a girl.

Barn – 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. This type of barn was more typical in East Tennessee than the cantilever barn. The lofts of the
barns were used to store hay to feed the animals. It sometimes served as storage for farm equipment. Milk cows and draft animals were kept in stalls most of the time so they would be close at hand when needed.

Sorghum Mill – Molasses making was often a social event. The sorghum cane stalks were cut in the fall and stripped of their leaves, then run through the rollers of the mill, powered by a horse or mule pulling a long pole in a circle. It squeezed the juice out, which was then boiled down into
molasses over the nearby furnace. Other native sweeteners were honey, maple syrup, and maple sugar. The sorghum mill is an interesting contract to the Cable Mill. The farmer had two energy sources, waterpower and animal power. One was strong but stationary, the other portable but
relatively weak. Both served well into this century on mountain farms.

Henry Whitehead Place – Matilda Shields Gregory’s husband deserted her and their small son. In the emergency, her brothers hastily built this small log cabin for them. Henry Whitehead’s wife died, leaving him and the three daughters to rear. Henry courted and married Matilda. He built for
them the ultimate log house, built in 1898. From logs sawn square at a nearby mill, a tight-fitting crib was built with hardly any spaces left to chink. The corners are worked to near perfection. Most of the interior log faces, ceiling joist and boards were dressed with a hand plane. How many endless strokes brought them up to this smoothness? The wall toward the prevailing wind was weather boarded to keep out wind and rain, and to preserve the chinking. A brick chimney, (rare for the Smokies), was made of brick, molded and fired on the property. A transition house, this one is a beautiful blend of log work and sawmill technology. By contrast, the older cabin was built almost entirely with a felling axe under emergency circumstances. Rough-hewn logs with jagged ends, and the rubble stone chimney show the hastiest kind of construction. It was one of three such houses in the cove and is the only one left in the park. Some call it a “transition” house, a link between regular log houses and frame houses built of sawed lumber. It was one of three in Cades Cove and is the only one left in the park. This pair of buildings represent the roughest and finest of log construction in the Smokies.

Cades Cove Nature Trail – This is a dry -type forest where pines and oaks predominate. Chestnuts once grew here and you may see sprouts growing from the chestnut root systems that still live here. You also may see red maples, dogwoods and sourwoods. Sourwoods bloom in July, providing nectar for the regions prized sourwood honey.

Hyatt Lane – Another way to look at the western end of the cove. Turn onto Hyatt Lane and follow the road back to the westbound leg of the Loop Road.

Dan Lawson Place – Dan Lawson built this house in 1856, on land bought from his father-in-law, Peter Cable, who’s home stood to the west across the stream. Lawson expanded the home from time to time, and acquired additional properties. At one point he owned a solid strip of land from the state line, on the ridge behind the house, across the center of the Cove, to the top of the mountains in front. The original house of hewn logs was built before sawmills came to the cove, but an examination shows
that sawed lumber later was used in additions and maintenance. Some of the better bladework in the Park is in this house. The inside faces of the logs were hewn smooth with an axe, and the ceiling joists were dressed and beaded with a plane. Chinks are battened inside with beveled poplar boards, and filled outside with brick and clay. The brick chimney is unusual for the time and place. A hole was dug in a nearby clay bank, and partially filled with water. The mixture was worked to proper consistency and a hoe or paddle, then placed into molds to dry. The brick were then stacked and fired. After cooling they were ready to use. The small outbuildings were the family pantries. The one closer to the house is the granary, and the other a smokehouse. Granaries were fairly rare, as not much wheat was grown here. Corn, a far more widely used crop, was stored in a corncrib, which is another kind of building. Meat was smoked and/or salted to preserve it and stored in the smokehouse.

Tipton Place – Col. Hamp Tipton, who served in the Mexican War, owned property in Cades Cove, but lived in Tuckaleechee Cove. He had this house built in the early 1870s. Among those who lived in it were his daughters, “Miss Lucy” and “Miss Lizzie”, who taught school in the Cove, and the James McCaulley Family. The long shed on the opposite side of the house is an apiary or bee gum stand. Honey was a common confection and also a money crop for some farmers. The apiary sheltered the hives from the weather, but not from bears. The smokehouse in the front yard held the winter supply of meat and the woodshed kept firewood handy. Across the road is a double pen corncrib, larger than average, and having a driveway through the center. Behind the corncrib stands a replica of a cantilever barn.
Built in 1968, it is similar to the original that stood on the site.

Carter Shields Cabin – A wound suffered in the Battle of Shiloh left George Washington “Carter” Shields crippled for life. Shortly after the war he married and moved to Kansas. He returned to Cades Cove in 1906, and bought this property in 1910. One would think that an old soldier could find contentment in such a lovely nook. But Shields lived here only 11 years before leaving again.

Sparks Lane – This road is named for a widely known Cades Cove family. Three Spark’s brothers, were live stock herders in the high Smokies during the summer months. Your tour is nearly ended-unless you wish to turn left on Sparks Lane and repeat most of it.

For the most of its history, Cades Cove has been a great place to visit. But for more than a 100 years, it also was a great place to live. Around two million visitors come each year to drive the eleven-mile Loop Road. They enjoy seeing the deer and other wildlife. They like to feel the cove’s pastoral serenity and the protection of the surrounding mountains. And some delight in imagining themselves in the places of those who cut the trees and built the houses and barns, worked a living from the land and created a community. It’s one of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s most popular places to visit.

Come visit and explore the beauty and lifestyle of East Tennessee.

Excited about the area and want more information, visit or call 800-747-0713.