horses in Cades Cove

5 Surprising Facts About the John Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove

The John Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove.
January 16, 2020

Cades Cove is rich in both history and beauty with numerous buildings that date back years before the national park was even founded. One of the most visited sites in Cades Cove is the John Oliver Cabin, one of the oldest man-made structures in the park. Want to learn more? Here are 5 things you didn’t know about the John Oliver Cabin.

1. It’s Not Actually John Oliver’s Cabin

Cades Cove during summer

It’s a little-known fact that the structure identified as John Oliver’s cabin that sits in the national park to this day is not the original! John Oliver’s cabin actually stood about 50 yards or so behind the cabin now identified as the original. The building that you see today in the Cades Cove is the honeymoon cabin which the family built for their son to use whenever he married. Youth were taken care of quite practically during this time period. Honeymoon houses were typical and usually built on the parents’ property.

2. One of the Oldest Structures in the Park

John and Lucretia Oliver arrived at Cades Cove in 1818, making them among first permanent European settlers there. The Oliver Cabin is one of the oldest cabins in the park, estimated to have been completed sometime around the early 1820s. However, the cabin identified and preserved by the national park is actually estimated to have been built around the 1850s.

3. John Oliver Fought to Keep It

When efforts to establish the Great Smoky Mountains National Park required the residents of Cades Cove to sell their land, some complied and others fought back. John Oliver was in no hurry to give up the property that he had worked so hard for over the years. He went to court several times before finally losing his case and being compensated for the land.

4. The National Park Maintains It

The Olivers had expanded the cabin over the years, but today the cabin is all that remains of the Oliver homestead. It’s said that the national park removed all the additions to restore it to its original appearance. This is not uncommon, and the national park has moved and restored multiple older log cabins and barns throughout the years. Their goal is to make Cades Cove look as it did in the early day. So, when you walk through, you can imagine what it was like living in that time period.

5. It’s Open to the Public

Did you know that the John Oliver Cabin is open to the public? So you and your family can go see it for yourselves! It has 2 levels and you can explore them both at your own pace. There are no furnishings in the cabin, which is typical of historical structures in the park because they tend to go missing quickly. If you’re just planning to see the cabin, it’s a good idea to allow around 45 minutes for your visit. This includes the time it will take to get to the cabin from the parking area and to talk with volunteers who are sometimes there to answer questions.

john oliver cabinNow that you know the secrets of the John Oliver Cabin, come see this historic building and the rest of Cades Cove for yourself! Be sure to read up on things to do in Cades Cove before you go so that you can make the most of your visit.

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