People sometimes forget that there was a time before the Great Smoky Mountain National Park existed. In that time in this mountainous area there were small communities and towns that thrived as farmers, trappers and those that helped support the logging communities went about their daily work. The towns and communities are now gone and very little of their existence is still seen in the park itself, but some of the people are still here. At the Gatlinburg Old Timer’s Day those people that remember the time some 75 years ago before the Park was founded will turn out to tell stories and share pictures about the communities in which they once lived.
The Gatlinburg Inn, one of the historic lodging venues in Gatlinburg, is playing host to this event. The Gatlinburg Inn has its own unique place in the area’s history, so there is not a better place in town for this event to occur. It was built between 1937 and 1940 and was the site of the first large newspaper, the city’s first dentist, and has played host to many famous people. Most notably it was the site where the song Rocky Top was written–in room 338. Rocky Top, of course, became the state song.
On June 6th, when these old timers show up to swap yarns, they are going to tell about the times before the national park. They are going to talk about growing up and being part of the communities that made up this corner of east Tennessee. They lived in places like Sugarlands, Cades Cove and Greenbrier. Today these areas are a campground, visitor’s center and picnic area, but 75 years ago they were homes and towns. It will be nice to be able to look back through the eyes of locals as they tell stories and explain what it was like to watch the National Park become a reality; what it was like to move from the park to a new community. Come listen to the oral tradition being handed down from one generation to the next .