Cades Cove: Historical Smoky Mountains National Park Tour
Road Closures: Parson Branch Road Temp closure
Cades Cove the in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park located in Tennessee has long been an tourist attraction my family has been attracted to.
The following reprint from a Cades Cove driving tour guide was courtesy of my mother who found this guide among her travel folders in her basement a few weeks ago. I have made some minor spelling and grammatical corrections and I have also reprinted part of this Cades Cove tourist guide as a Cades Cove: History in the Smoky Mountains National Park web page.
I have also included a Cades Cove driving tour Historical Map
Cades Cove Tour
The eleven mile tour through Cades Cove begins at the Cades Cove Parking Area, where informational signs give the first description of this scenic valley.
The following mileage chart, used with the map, will show you where the points of interest are located. At their respective mileages on the chart you will find texts of the descriptive signs which have been placed in the Cove to explain the buildings and other attractions.
Traffic is one way on the asphalt surfaced Loop Road. Much of it is an old roadway with its natural grades and turns. Fords across streams have been retained but are surfaced with concrete aprons in order to make them passable when streams are high.
Mileages on chart are only for points of interest directly on Loop Road. Distances to other listed points shown in parentheses, will be additional.
Published in cooperation with the
National Park Service
1 0.00 Cades Cove Parking Area
2 0.00 First View of Cades Cove
Sign: CADES COVE. This was an American frontier. To this valley in the early 19th century came the pioneer settlers. Isolated from an outside world, they became self-sufficient.
Sturdy log structures, their timbers hewed with a skill now lost, remain as memorials to a way of life. The fine frame buildings show a slow self-taught advance in construction methods.
Elsewhere the frontier passed on yielding to change and innovation, but here a pioneer culture has persisted offering to future generations a "sense of the land from which their forefathers hewed their homes".
Cades Cove with its visible record of man's struggle with the wilderness is a valuable heritage of the American people.
Sign: THE GEOLOGY OF CADES COVE. The rocks that underlie all the area that can be seen from this point were deposited on the floors of ancient seas. Sandstones and shale, laid down about 600 million years ago, form the mountains. Limestone containing fossil sea shells that were buried 400 million years ago underlie the Cove floor. During an ancient upheaval of the earth's crust known as the Appalachian Revolution the older rocks of the mountains were moved north westward over the younger limestone. Since then running water has been ceaselessly wearing the mountains away, removing several thousand feet of rock that once stood over the cove area.
3 0.6 Permittee Quarters-Left
Sign: CADES COVE TODAY. About 100 families lived in Cades Cove at the time the park was established. To maintain open fields and preserve other features of this unusual pioneer community a number of farmers have been allowed to remain under special permits. Some of these leaseholders are descendent's of early settlers; a few are members of families which have lived and worked in the Cove for more than a century.
5 1.2 Parking Area-Right. To John Oliver Cabin (.3 Mile)
6 John Oliver Cabin
Sign: JOHN OLIVER CABIN. In 1818 John Oliver, a veteran of the War of 1812, made his way across the mountains into Cades Cove to become the first permanent white settler.
Here, at the foot of the mountains and sheltered from prevailing winds, he built his home. The original homestead stood close to the present structure.
7 1.6 Permittee Quarters-Left
8 2.3 Road to Primitive Baptist Church. Left (1/2 mile)
9 Primitive Baptist Church
Sign: PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH. The early settlers in Cades Cove were a religious people. In 1827, shortly after the community was established, the Primitive Baptist Church was organized. The original log structure stood on the rise of ground just to the rear of the present church. This frame building was erected to replace the old log structure.
Much of the history of Cades Cove and its people is recorded on the markers in the church-yard. Many of the people lived and died without ever leaving the Cove.
10 2.6 Methodist Church. Right
Sign: METHODIST CHURCH. Four churches filled the religious needs of Cades Cove residents. Two were Methodist and two Baptist. This church, built in 1902, replaced an old log structure.
11 2.9 Old Hyatt Road. Earliest road to Townsend.
12 3.1 Old Townsend Road. Right
13 3.1 Missionary Baptist Church. Left
Sign: MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH. At one time 114 members were enrolled here. This church, built in 1894 on Hyatt Hill, was moved to its present location in 1916.
14 3.1 Permittee Quarters. Right.
15 3.3 Ford across Tater Branch.
16 3.3 Site of CC camp to right.
17 3.6 Parking Area. Left. View of Spence Field, Thunderhead.
8 4.1 Parking Area. Left. View of Blanket Mountain, in Gap. Thunder-head on right.
Sign: WILD LIFE. Wild turkey and white-tailed deer are among the natural residents of Cades Cove, and visitors should be on the alert for an occasional glimpse of them.
Evening and early morning are times when they have been observed most frequently. Look for them in open fields as well as along woodland margins. Except for Cades Cove, these animals are rare or absent throughout most of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Like all wild life, turkey and deer are given full protection here. They are a part of the wilderness which national parks have saved for this and future generations.
19 4.4 Cooper Road. Right. First road to Maryville and Chilhowee.
20 4.6 Parking Area. Left. View of Blanket Mt. in Gap. Thunderhead on right.
21 4.6 Trail to Elijah Oliver Place. Right. (1 mile)
22 Elijah Oliver Place.
23 4.7 Lessee Quarters. Left.
24 5.0 Abrams Creek.
25 5.1 Road to Abrams Falls Parking Area. Right. (.3 mile)
26 5.5 Road to John P. Cable Mill Group. Right. (.1 mile)
27 P John P. Cable Mill Group: Parking Area, Comfort Stations.
A. John P. Cable Mill.
This is the only grist mill left in the Park using an overshot wheel. Built by John P. Cable and restored in 1936 and again in 1951.
The mill is operated April 15 to late October as a demonstration by the Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association. The ground corn meal is sold in the nearby Becky Cable House.
B. Smokehouse (Meat House)
This is a typical smokehouse in which meat was salted, cured, and hung. After animals had been butchered, the meat was placed on the shelves along the sides of the building and covered with salt; later, after it was cured, the meat was hung from the poles which span the interior.
C. Becky Cable House.
First frame house in the Cove; built by John P. Cable who also built the Cable Mill. Upon completion of this building a general store operated here for many years. Most of the goods were brought from Maryville, 26 miles away, using yoke oxen. The unique construction of this building necessitated a round-about entrance to each room by way of the porch. Note the winding stairway inside. Becky Cable lived here until her death at the age of 96.
The store is operated (April 15 - late October) by the Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association. Books, pamphlets, post cards, slides, other informational material, and meal ground at the nearby mill are sold here.
D. Corn crib.
One of the finest corn cribs in the park. On either side are the gear sheds in which wagons, sleds, and various tools and equipment were stored. Restored in 1937.
E. "Drive Through" Barn.
This "drive-through" log barn was brought from Cataloochee in 1957. I t was erected here to replace a similar barn which stood near this spot at one time.
The elevated trough on the right is a flume. The water which powers the mill is channeled by this chute to the top of the mill wheel. The wider trough on the left is the millrace. The structures with wooden bars placed where the race narrows into the flume is called a "chunk rack". Its purpose is to filter the debris from the water.
By walking a short distance alongside the millrace you will come to the floodgate and milldam.
An excellent example of the old cantilever-type barn, showing framing typical of many such structures in the cove. Large haylofts were required to store forage for herds of cattle during the winter months. Note the type of door hinges.
The floodgate's serve to control the amount of water which flows into the millrace.
I. Mill Creek Dam.
This dam was built to bring water from Mill Creek, through the millrace, to the overshot wheel at the mill. Because logs are very durable when submerged in water, they were the most economical and practical material for milldams.
Across Mill Creek you can see a canal which brings water from the large Forge Creek, about a half - mile away, to assure an adequate supply of water at all times.
J. Blacksmith Shop.
This building was erected in 1957 to take the place of a blacksmith shop which stood near this spot many years ago. It is similar to the typical blacksmith shop of that period. The blacksmith's neighbors, as well as people from miles around, c am e to him to have their tools mended and their horses shod. He improvised a wide variety of articles, including such items as door hinges which were made from worn horseshoes and muleshoes.
The entire Cable Mill area is enclosed with a "snake rail" fence made from split chestnut logs. The fence at the Becky Cable house is known as a "split picket" fence.
26 5.5 Loop Road
Side Trip. Road to right leads to Henry Whitehead Cabin, and to the beginning of Big Poplar and Gregory Bald Trails.
Permittee Quarters. Left. (0.5 mile)
Henry Whitehead Cabin. Left. (0.7 mile)
Here are the two extremes in cabin construction. The small one to the rear is low and squat, with a large stone chimney at one end, rough-hewn logs with saddle'-notched corners. The home was built by David Shields for his sister who was a widow. Later she married Henry Whitehead who, with the help of his two oldest girls, built the new home in 1895-1896. One of these girls, Nancy Ann, later became the wife of John Oliver, great-grandson of the first white man (John Oliver) to establish a permanent home in the Cove. Nancy Ann and her sister cut and sawed the white pine logs, planed the joists, and molded the bricks by hand.
(From this point the road continues on for 1.6 miles to the beginning of Gregory Bald Trail).
26 5.5 Loop Road.
27 T 6.0 Pine Oak Trail. (Sign)
Throughout the Southern Appalachian Mountains there are thousands of acres of forests dominated by a mixture of pines and oaks. However, the axe and fires have played such havoc with these woodlands that mature trees are now a rarity. Here, due to the fact that a former owner, "Uncle Andy" Shields, would not permit the cutting of the biggest trees, some large specimens have survived. Now that this is a part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, forest protection is assured for all time.
Here, as in all National Parks, a superlative segment of the American Scene is preserved for the enjoyment of this and future generations.
Take the free self-guide leaflet with you in order to learn more about what you see along this short trail Retain it if you wish - otherwise please replace it.
28 6.3 Permittee Quarters. Right.
29 6.4 Ford across Whistling Branch.