Right along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is Cades Cove. For about 100 years the Cove was a busy farming community made up of about 130 families, or 700 people, at its most populated in the early 1900s.
On our way to Cades Cove, we stopped at a few country stores that dot the route to the park. Though I'm not a big knickknack person, I love walking around these country stores. Often they have things you don't see anywhere else and, even more often they have stuff you'd never want to see again! But, these stores did have some neat crafts, particular to the mountains and a couple of them were decorated so cute that I had to take pictures.
Although Cades Cove is very close to the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina, there is no evidence that Native Americans ever actually lived in the Cove. They often came to hunt and camp because of the excellent source of deer, elk, bison and bears, but never set up living quarters.
The families of the Cove were farmers, for the most part. They first came to the Cove around 1821 and began clearing their land and building their homes out of the trees they felled. The first major crop was corn, but eventually wheat, tobacco and a little cotton were grown as well. The tobacco and cotton were mostly grown for personal use. Other occupations were blacksmiths, carpenters, storekeepers and distillers. Every family had a vegetable garden and some even had orchards. Of course, they raised hogs and cattle and hunted the various game found in the forest.
Cades Cove has many of its original homes preserved for visiting. There is a touring book published which gives you much of the history of the Cove and its more than 70 historic buildings.
I will tell you, though, people are ignorant! I have to rant al little because every one of these wonderful, historic buildings had graffiti all over them!! UGH!!!!! It makes me so mad that people don't know how to keep their hands to themselves and can ruin things for those who come after them. I can honestly say, I have never graffitti'd anything in my life. My momma taught me that if it don't belong to me, don't touch it!!!! Okay, rant is over.
The oldest home still standing is John Oliver Place. It was built in the early 1820s. For the size of families in those days, this is such a small home. But, the boys slept in the loft upstairs, with the parents and daughters sleeping in the main room on the first level.
The first church established in the Cove is the Primitive Baptist Church, founded in 1827. The current building was built in 1887. The church actually closed during the Civil War because, interestingly, the congregation was pro-Union and the Rebel influence was so strong in the Cove that the church decided to close its doors until the war was over.
There were Methodists also in the Cove, so a Methodist church was established as well. The original log building of the church was built by a local blacksmith and carpenter in 115 days for $115. This building was later replaced in 1902 by the one currently standing. Again, the Civil War caused a problem in a local congregation and this church split and those who left formed Hopewell Methodist Church on the opposite side of the Cove. Unfortunately, that building is no longer standing.
The third church found in the Cove is the Missionary Baptist Church and was formed in 1839. The building standing now was built in 1915. This congregation was established after a group of folks was kicked out of the Primitive Baptist Church for favoring missionary work. What a shocker - dissension among the Baptists!! :) Once again, a church had to close due to the Civil War and the disagreements caused by it among the members. The church did begin to meet again after the war, but without those who sympathized with the Confederacy.
The second house in the Cove is Elijah Oliver Place. Elijah is the son of John and was born in the Cove in 1824. His homestead has more buildings than his dad's. In addition to his home, which is much larger than his parents', there are a springhouse, corn crib, and barn.
The Dan Lawson Place was built in 1856. Its brick chimney is unusual for this time and area and the brick was made right there onsite. The original home was built of the hewn logs used before sawmills came to the Cove, but you can see the additions to the house are made of sawed lumber. A big difference between the two types of lumber.
The largest house still standing belonged to the Tipton family and was built in the early 1870s. "Col. Hamp" Tipton had served in the Mexican War and owned this property. He lived, however, across the mountain in Tuckaleechee Cove. It was his daughters who lived in the house in Cades Cove; they were schoolteachers in the Cove. Eventually, the McCaulley family moved into this house and bought it from the Tipton family in the late 1870s.
James McCaulley added several buildings to his homestead; a cantilever barn, smokehouse, blacksmith & carpenter shops, and a double-pen corn crib. Randy & I figured he must have done very well because this is the largest homestead in the Cove. At least, it's the largest one still standing.
The last building on the tour is Carter Shields Cabin and is one of the smallest homes on the tour. I have to admit, this is the cabin that I think of when I think of cabins in the Tennessee mountains! Its setting is just beautiful. It sits along a small creek and is nestled in the trees. Of course, the fall colors sure made the picture complete!
All through the drive there were plenty of opportunities to take scenic pictures. And even though I've taken LOTS of scenic view pictures on this trip, I couldn't resist taking a few more. There's just nothing like standing and looking at the gorgeous creation of God. Sorry, if I bore you with that, but I just can't get tired of being a part of this. It is amazing.
It was in 1927 that the first tract of land was purchased for inclusion in the national park. Most families had sold their land to the federal government by 1937 and moved out of the Cove. However, not all families had to leave. If they were willing to take less for their land, they could remain on it until they died. Their descendants could not, though. The Cades Cove post office closed forever in 1947.
Most of the land in the National Park System had already been owned by the federal government before becoming part of the park system. This is not the case with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. All of its land was privately owned before purchased for the park.
Although there is much wildlife in the park, we didn't get to see much of it. We saw one deer and two young bear cubs. I was so excited about the bears because in all the drives we've taken, that's what I wanted to see the most!! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a picture of the cubs because Randy wouldn't slow down long enough for me to do so!! There are signs all along the way saying you shouldn't stop, but use the pullover areas. However, everyone else in front of us had slowed down, almost to a stop, to get a picture of these bears. But, there was a ranger there, so my husband didn't. UGH! I was so annoyed. Oh, well. I'm sure that with all of our travels, I'll get a picture of bears someday.
I know this is a long post, but there was much to see in Cades Cove. It was a great day. We're going to see Dixie Stampede tomorrow night and Thursday night is the kickoff of the Pigeon Forge Winterfest! I'm sure I'll have more to share soon. Until the next time . . .