History of the Smoky Mountains

History of the Smoky Mountains

Posted by in Pigeon Forge Stables Blog | September 11, 2012
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The Smoky Mountains are very rich in history and tradition. Here is some history of the Smoky Mountains and how they came to be.

A few years after the National Park Service was created by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 to preserve the country’s beautiful western lands, prominent Knoxville, Tennessee businessman Willis P. Davis and his wife visited some of the newly created parks. The Davises felt compelled to share their vision for a similar park in the Smoky Mountains to the south and east of Knoxville.

A visitor from the Midwest, Horace Kephart, had come to the Smoky Mountains in 1904 for his health, and he also caught the vision of a national park in the eastern US that people living in the major population centers could more easily enjoy. The Davises, Kephart and numerous other backers worked hard for over 17 years to raise funds and support.

Congress authorized the establishment of the park in 1926, but finding the funds and purchasing the land proved difficult. The government had used land it already owned when establishing national parks in the west, but the lands that would eventually form the Great Smoky Mountains National Park were held by small farmers or timber and logging companies.

Millionaire industrialist John D. Rockefeller Jr. pledged $5 million toward the establishment of the park and the state legislatures of Tennessee and North Carolina each pledged $2 million dollars to the development of the park in 1927. Even with the help of the US government’s donation of $2 million, more money was needed. So Tennessee and North Carolina schoolchildren pitched in their pennies, nickels and dimes to help reach the goal of establishing the park. After almost two decades of effort, President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Sept. 2, 1940.

Today the park is the most popular in the US with just under 10 million visitors each year. The towns located next to the park on the Tennessee side, including Pigeon Forge, offer numerous activities for visitors. Visitors can enjoy horseback riding in pigeon forge ranging from an hour to an entire day. A visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is truly a treat for all visitors.

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