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As you plan to visit Cades Cove, it is good to have a background knowledge of some of the rich history that the area has so you know what to look for on your next visit. As you make your way through what locals call “The Cove,” be sure to take a minute to recognize some of the history behind the great views around you.
1. Early Days of Cades Cove
Before Cades Coves was a popular tourist destination, it was a place where people lived out their daily lives. For more than 100 years before the park opened, Cades Cove was the home for many families. The first settlers came to Cades Cove in the 1820s from Europe and built log homes. As the population grew, there were two churches that were built, and then a few years later the first schoolhouse was built. When North Carolina and Tennessee came to purchase the land, some families gave up their land willingly, but there were some who were not in favor of moving away from their homes they had built.
2. Dan Lawson Place
As you drive through Cades Cove, one of the places you will come across is Dan Lawson Place that holds with it a special piece of Cades Cove history. This cabin sits in a field as you travel through the loop. The Dan Lawson Cabin was built in 1856. One interesting fact about Lawson is he became the largest landowner in the Cove after the Civil War. Because the cabin was built before powered sawmills came to Tennessee, it was built out of hand-cut logs. This gives the cabin a true authentic look and can be seen from the road as you travel through the loop. However, if you go today to view it, there have been some modifications to it, including some machine-cut lumber that was added. If you go to visit the cabin, you can still see the portions of it that were made from the hand-cut wood.
3. Civilian Conservation Corps
Across from the Missionary Baptist Church, there is a marker honoring the Civilian Conservation Corps, a significant part of the history of Cades Cove. The group was responsible for building the roads, bridges, and picnic areas around Cades Cove. The Civilian Conservation Corps, or the CCC, was established by FDR in 1933 as part of the New Deal. The goal of the project was to give jobs to young men after the Great Depression. There is a dedication and an in-depth placard about the CCC in Cades Cove.
4. Cades Cove Methodist Church
While you are checking out the tribute to the Civilian Conservative Corps, located right next door is the Cades Cove Methodist Church, another significant part of Cades Cove history. The Methodists’ religion was prominent in the area as early as the 1820s. The church building that is there today was built in 1902, by who was the pastor of the church.
5. John P. Cable Grist Mill
This mill is not only an important piece of the history of Cades Cove, it is one of the things that allowed the early settlers to survive. The John P. Cable Grist Mill was built in the 1870s and allowed the locals to grind their corn and wheat into flour to make bread. The thing about the mill that is so intriguing is that out of 7 mills that were originally in Cades Cove, it is the only one that remains.
6. Wildlife in the Area
Along with the great buildings and all the history that go along with them, one of the greatest parts of history that still drives most of the traffic to Cades Cove is the wildlife that calls it their natural habitat. As you travel through the loop, you will come across all different kinds of wildlife that have lived there even before the first Cherokees. Some of the possible wildlife you will see include white tail deer, black bears, wild turkey, and all different breeds of birds.
As you plan your next visit to Cades Cove, be sure to take a minute to take in all the different parts of history you will encounter. There is something for everyone as you make the 11-mile trip around the loop.