From Grist Mills to Moonshine: Exploring the History of Sevier County

From Grist Mills to Moonshine: Exploring the History of Sevier County

Nestled in the region of the Great Smoky Mountains, Sevier County is a treasure trove of historical gems waiting to be explored. This idyllic region, known for its breathtaking natural beauty and diverse ecosystem, also boasts a rich heritage that echoes throughout its grist mills, ghost towns, historic cabins and other remnants of days long since passed. Whether you’re a history buff or a curious traveler, the Smoky Mountain region offers a fascinating journey into the past. This blog will take you through some of the most intriguing historical sites in the area, each with its own unique story to tell.

From Grist Mills to Moonshine: Exploring the History of Sevier County

Step Back in Time at The Old Mill

The Old Mill, located in Pigeon Forge, is one of the most iconic landmarks in the Smoky Mountains. Established in 1830, this historic grist mill has been grinding grains into flour and meal for nearly two centuries. As you stroll through the mill, you can almost hear the rhythmic clatter of the waterwheel turning and imagine the bustling activity of a bygone era. The mill was once a vital part of the community, providing flour for local families and serving as a gathering place for news and stories.

Today, The Old Mill continues to operate, offering guided tours that take you through its fascinating history and traditional milling processes. The adjacent artisan shops and restaurants provide a nostalgic ambiance (with an artistic and delicious twist), making it a perfect spot to experience the charm of Pigeon Forge history.

A Ghost Town in the Woods: The Magic of Elkmont

From Grist Mills to Moonshine: Exploring the History of Sevier County

Tucked well within the boundaries of the park sit the traces of a once picturesque mountain community and the Smokies’ only hotel – Elkmont. Originally a logging community in the early 1800s, Elkmont later evolved into a summer retreat for affluent families seeking an escape from the sweltering city heat. The remains of Elkmont’s past, including rustic cabins restored to their former glory and abandoned structures long since forgotten, tell a story of both prosperity and decline.

Be sure to check out the restored Appalachian Clubhouse and Spence Cabin (you can even rent these spaces for special events) and the eerily beauty of the structures that have been abandoned, slowly being reclaimed by the forest. Exploring this “ghost town” offers a unique blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue, making it a must-visit for those seeking a deeper connection with the Smoky Mountains’ heritage.

Journey Through Time in Cades Cove

From Grist Mills to Moonshine: Exploring the History of Sevier County

Cades Cove is a beautifully preserved 19th-century settlement located in the Smoky Mountains. This idyllic valley, surrounded by majestic mountains, offers a glimpse into the lives of early settlers through its historic cabins, churches, and mill. As you drive through the 11-mile loop, just not on Wednesdays during the summer, you’ll encounter structures that have stood the test of time, such as the John Oliver Cabin, the Primitive Baptist Church, and the Cable Mill.

The stories of the families who lived here, their resilience, and their community spirit come alive as you explore the cove. Cades Cove is also renowned for its abundant wildlife, including deer, black bears, and wild turkeys, adding to the charm and allure of this historical haven.

Honoring a Legacy: The Rockefeller Monument

John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s contribution to the preservation of the Great Smoky Mountains is commemorated by the Rockefeller Monument. Located near Newfound Gap, this monument marks the spot where Rockefeller donated $5 million, a substantial portion of the funds needed to establish the national park. The dedication ceremony in 1940, attended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, highlighted the significance of this moment in time.

The Rockefeller Monument not only honors Rockefeller’s generosity but also symbolizes the commitment to preserving the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the Smokies for future generations. Visiting this monument offers a moment of reflection on the impact of conservation efforts and the legacy of those who made the park possible.

Glimpses of Pioneer Life at Martha Jane Ogle Cabin

From Grist Mills to Moonshine: Exploring the History of Sevier County

The Martha Jane Ogle Cabin in Gatlinburg is a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of the early settlers in the Smoky Mountains. Built in the early 1800s, though it has moved several times since, this log cabin served as the home of Martha Jane Huskey Ogle and her family, who were among the first settlers in the area. The cabin is furnished with period artifacts that provide a window into the daily lives of the Ogle family and their pioneering spirit.

As you explore the cabin, you’ll gain an appreciation for the hardships and triumphs of Gatlinburg’s early inhabitants. The Martha Jane Ogle Cabin stands as a reminder of the town’s humble beginnings and its evolution into the vibrant community it is today.

Charming Relics: The Harrisburg Covered Bridge

The Harrisburg Covered Bridge, located in Sevierville, is a charming relic from the 19th century. Constructed in 1875, this historic bridge spans the East Fork of the Little Pigeon River and is one of the few remaining covered bridges in Tennessee. The bridge’s construction showcases the ingenuity of the period, and its rustic charm evokes a sense of nostalgia for a simpler time.

Visitors to the Harrisburg Covered Bridge can enjoy a charming setting perfect for photography and quiet contemplation. The bridge’s enduring presence is a testament to the craftsmanship and care of its builders, making it a beloved landmark in Sevier County.

Unearthing Mysteries at Forbidden Caverns

Forbidden Caverns, hidden beneath the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, offers an intriguing glimpse into the region’s subterranean wonders. This extensive cave system was used by Native Americans as a shelter and later by moonshiners during Prohibition. The caverns’ name itself hints at the secretive activities that once took place within its depths.

Today, guided tours of Forbidden Caverns reveal stunning rock formations, sparkling streams, and fascinating historical anecdotes. Visitors can marvel at the natural beauty of the cave while learning about its storied past through a detailed yet entertaining tour. The caverns provide a unique and adventurous way to connect with Sevier County’s history and geology.

Experience the Luxurious Side of the Smokies

After a day of exploring Sevier County’s historical treasures, there’s no better place to truly unwind, than at Parkside Resort. With our ideal location, our resort offers luxury accommodations that cater to every need. Enjoy fully-equipped kitchens, spacious living areas, and cozy furnishings that provide all the comforts of home.

Take in the incredible views from your private balcony or unwind in the hot tub after a day of adventure. Our resort features two pools, a private 18-hole putt-putt course, and an onsite eatery for your convenience. With a wide selection of cabins to choose from and our endless amenities, Parkside ensures a unforgettable and wonderful stay!

From Grist Mills to Moonshine: Exploring the History of Sevier County

Call us today at 888-908-6066 or visit our website to learn more about our amazing accommodations!