horses in Cades Cove

Preserving History: 4 Interesting Historical Structures in Cades Cove

Elijah Oliver Place homestead in the Great Smoky Mountains
December 28, 2022

Cades Cove is a popular place to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. People love to look at the wide open fields and see the natural scenery change with the seasons. They also look forward to the possibility of seeing live animals, such as black bears. Long before Cades Cove was the popular tourist destination that we know and love today, it was a thriving settlement for over 100 years. If you visit the area today, you can still see remnants of the community that have been left behind and beautifully preserved. Before your next visit, learn more about 4 of the historical structures in Cades Cove:

1. John Oliver Cabin

John Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove The John Oliver Cabin is the very first structure you’ll see on Cades Cove Loop Road. It was built in the 1820’s by John Oliver as an upgraded homestead for himself and his wife. The couple were two prominent figures in Cades Cove history because they were the first permanent white settlers to live in the area. Today, the structure is very important to Cades Cove and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park overall as it is the oldest building there. It was also one of the last cabins to be vacated before the establishment of the national park in 1934. You can really see the preservation of history here as you gaze at pieces of the cabin’s original stack chimney.

2. Elijah Oliver Cabin

Elijah Oliver was the son of John Oliver. He settled in Cades Cove and built his cabin in 1865. Like his father, Elijah Oliver was a prominent figure in the Cades Cove settlement and its history. He had an admirable career as a deacon and clerk of the Primitive Baptist Church. He lived out his Christian faith through his generosity. When you visit his cabin today, you can see a small enclosed area of the porch. This was called a “Stranger Room,” and it provided an area for travelers to stay in overnight. You can find the structure on the left side of Cades Cove Loop Road. More specifically, it is about 4.6 miles from the beginning of the loop.

3. Primitive Baptist Church

The Primitive Baptist Church building in Cades Cove The legacy of John Oliver and his wife is shown throughout Cades Cove history, even in the religious aspect. When the couple introduced the Baptist denomination of Christianity to Cades Cove, the followers did not have a set meeting place and often had to travel long distances to be able to gather together. The Cades Cove Baptist Church was established in 1827 in an attempt to ease this hardship. Later, a divide over differing opinions on missionary work developed among the followers. A smaller congregation then became known as the Primitive Baptist Church. They met in a log cabin for 60 years before their church was built in 1887. Today, this prominent building is the second stop on Cades Cove Loop Road.

4. The Corn Crib

Even though the corn crib is not an actual building, it is still an important historical structure in Cades Cove. Because the settlers did not have the wonderful technological advancements that we do today, they had to do a lot of farming. Corn was a staple crop in the settlement. The corn was ground at the nearby grist mills and then made into cornmill. Before the corn made it here though, the Corn Crib played a big role in protecting these important goods. The corn was stored under the open slats on either side of the structure. Air could circulate through keeping the crops fresh, and it was out of reach of the animals. The structure has been moved from its original spot and is currently located in the Cable Farm area of Cades Cove.

We hope you enjoyed learning a little more about some of the important historical structures in Cades Cove! If you want to come see them in person, start planning your visit by getting familiar with the Cades Cove hours!

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