Gatlinburg is best known as “The Gateway to the Smokies” because it is surrounded on three sides by the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Gatlinburg rests on the border of the national park along US Highway 441, which connects Gatlinburg to Cherokee, NC through the park. US 441 is the main traffic route running through the center of town from north to south. On 441 Pigeon Forge is approximately 6 miles to the north and the national park is approximately 2 miles to the south. TN 73 forks off 441 at the Sugarland’s Visitor’s Center and goes east for 25 miles connecting Gatlinburg with Townsend and Blount County. This route can also veer off to the scenic Cades Cove Loop. US 321 enters Gatlinburg from Pigeon Forge and Wears Valley to the north before turning east connecting with Newport and Cosby. Gatlinburg lies less than 10 hours from over half of the United States population so it is America’s understated getaway destination.
Gatlinburg, TN was originally known as White Oaks Flats because of the abundant native white oak trees covering the land. Around 1802, William Ogle found a site for what was to be the first “home” built in Gatlinburg. He cut the logs for the cabin and then returned to South Carolina to gather his family. He described the property as “The Land of Paradise” in the mountains of East Tennessee. While he was preparing his family for the move “White Oaks Flats” he fell sick and passed away in 1803. In 1807 widow Martha Jane Huskey Ogle, her five sons and two daughters, her brother, and his family lift for “The Land of Paradise” to honor her husbands dying wish. They built the cabin with the logs William cut and started a new life. The Ogles abandoned the cabin in 1910 but the cabin still stands today.
There are many different stories about how Gatlinburg got its name but all of them involve a controversial figure that settled in the area in 1854. Radford C. Gatlin opened the town’s second general store and the town’s first post office. When the post office was established in 1856, Radford Gatlin changed the town’s name from White Oak Flats to Gatlinburg.
The Pi Beta Phi Fraternity formed the first public school in 1912. The school not only provided academic and practical education, it also helped reestablish the Appalachian arts and crafts movement. Many of the original schoolhouse buildings have been refurbished and are in use today at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.
With the formation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, tourism began to boast Gatlinburg’s economy. Many families that lived where the National Park was formed moved into town to develop new enterprises or take jobs in new hotels and restaurants. Businesses slowed during World War II. By the end of the war, tourists returned, and the businesses of Gatlinburg once again started expanding.
Gatlinburg has evolved from a rural settlement to a thriving gateway community. In 194 the cost of one acre of land went for $40. Ten years later the cost of one acre jumped to $8,000, which made many land owners very wealthy. Today the average price for one acre of land is $45,000.
Gatlinburg offers many rental cabins, second homes, and vacation homes in the Smoky Mountains. A number of these homes are located on Ski Mountain and Chalet Village, which is located on Ski Mountain. Gatlinburg, Tennessee also has a number of permanent residences. Hidden Hills, located off of Glades Road and Highway 321, is a subdivision that is primary permanent residences.
There’s no better place to experience Appalachian mountain culture and history than Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains.