With a perfect day for sightseeing, we ventured into Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We made our way to a lush valley known as Cades Cove, which is one of the park's most popular destinations. Once home to the Cherokee Nation, Cades Cove attracted settlers from Virginia, North Carolina and upper east Tennessee in the 1800's. The National Park Service has preserved Cades Cove as a large open air museum.
An 11-mile one way loop takes visitors on a trip back in time, passing by three churches, several cabins and outbuildings and a grist mill.
The first church on the tour is Primitive Baptist Church, a simple white frame church built in 1887 - some 60 years after early settlers established the congregation.
At this and other cemeteries in the cove we noticed many headstones with a name of one of our family members. This would be a very interesting spot for some genealogy research.
Just down the road is the Methodist Church. The Cades Cove congregation was organized in 1820 and held services in a log cabin until 1902. We were most curious about why this church has two front doors. We learned that women and children entered through the left door, and men entered through the door on the right. Unlike some churches of the time, which had a divider in the middle for separate seating, Cades Cove Methodists were allowed to sit wherever they pleased.
John and Lurany Oliver were the first white settler in Cades Cove. The bought their land in 1826. This is the honeymoon cabin they built for their son to use when he was married. The original Oliver cabin, approximately 50 yards away, is no longer standing.
While we were taking this shot of the Oliver cabin, we were greeted by a black bear that happily passed by some 50 yards to the left of where we were standing. Did we get a picture? Uh, no. I was too busy walking swiftly toward the cabin to take cover!
One thing we know about Dan Lawson is he and his family were probably not very tall. Paul had to remember to duck while we explored this place.
The low ceilings, hewn logs, small windows and large fireplace make this pre-Civil War place quite rustic.
Colonel Hamp Tipton had this house built in 1878 for his two daughters who taught school in the cove.
Tipton Place is a collection of buildings. Across the street from the house stands this cantilever barn, which was produced as a replica in 1968.
Another interesting collection of buildings in Cades Cove is the Cable Mill Historic Area. Here the Park Service has brought together an interesting sample of life in the cove. Becky Cable's home was a busy place back in the day. In this house she raised her brother's children, ran a boarding house and her brother's farm. In her spare time she raised gardens, cattle to provide food for her family and borders.
This interesting barn has a "drive-through" in the center that provided a protective place for farm equipment and animals.
This cantilever barn was used frequently in east Tennessee. It features a large overhang that was used to shelter animals and equipment without posts to get in the way.
This top-heavy structure is a corn crib. Each year's supply of corn was dumped in through a high hatch, then small portions were accessed through the little front door.
The John P. Cable Mill harnessed the power of water to grind grain. A sawmill often operated off of the same power unit, which made this a doubly important service to the community.
When John P. Cable's son James inherited the mill and farm, he decided to become a blacksmith. He had an instant customer base because of the many people bringing grain and logs to the mill by wagons drawn by horses and mules. The open spaces between the logs of the blacksmith shop allowed provided natural ventilation.
On our short drive back to Townsend, we enjoyed the scenic late afternoon views in this beautiful valley. We just scratched the surface of America's most popular National Park.
We're already thinking about our return trip!