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You probably visit Cades Cove, the most popular destination in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Over 2 million visitors come to this spot in the Smokies every year and with good reason! It’s beautiful and is one of the top places to find natural wildlife and manmade structures. But how much do you actually know about this area of the national park? Here are 6 fun facts you should know about Cades Cove:
1. No Native Americans Lived Here
You might assume Native Americans lived in Cades Cove before it was colonized, but you would be wrong! According to the National Park Service’s article on Cades Cove, archeologists have never found evidence of major settlement from Native Americans, specifically the Cherokees. However, there was evidence these people used Cades Cove as a hunting ground.
2. The John P. Cable Mill Wasn’t the First
If you’ve visited Cades Cove before, you’re probably familiar with the John P. Cable Mill. Did you know it wasn’t the first grist mill in Cades Cove? A man named Robert Shields bought over 1,600 acres of land in Cades Cove. He built the first overshot water-powered grist and flour mill, which is no longer in existence. Bonus fun fact: the John P. Cable Mill is the only working grist mill on the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
3. Historic Buildings Have Been Moved
One of the most unique facts about Cades Cove is many of the historic buildings you know and love actually weren’t built in Cades Cove. They were moved there! The national park wanted to keep the area looking like it would have if you went back in time to when people first moved and lived in the area. Some of the buildings that have been moved into Cades Cove include the Gregg-Cable House and many of the buildings around the grist mill.
4. Cades Cove Closes at Night
Cades Cove is the only area in the national park that closes at night. Rangers shut at the gate to the main entrance at sunset every day. If you do find yourself in the loop after the gate is closed, don’t panic! You can always exit through Rich Mountain Road, a one way road that’s 7 miles long.
5. Entrances Have Changed
The main entrance people use to enter the Cades Cove Loop was built in 1934, when the national park was established. Before this, people used five roads to get into Cades Cove. They were:
- Crib Gap Road
- Rich Mountain Road
- Cooper Road
- Rabbit Creek Road
- Parsons Branch
You can still use Parsons Branch and Rich Mountain Road today.
6. Cades Cove was Almost a Marina
You’ll probably be shocked to learn this fun fact, but Cades Cove was almost turned into a marina. When the national park was established, people didn’t think empty fields surrounded by the mountains would attract tourists. However, the national parks in the midwest had plenty of lakes, features people wanted to see. There was a whole proposal submitted to build a dam near Abrams Falls and create a huge lake. However, many environmentalists worked to stop this proposal and succeeded!
Now you know a lot more about Cades Cove! Haven’t had enough? Check out these things you probably didn’t know about Cades Cove!