If you enjoy a nature and love photography, the Smoky Mountains in east Tennessee should be a place on your “must travel” list. Luckily, we live close by, so we are able to take in the mountainous views often. Our favorite place to go is Cades Cove, located just outside of Townsend, TN (about 20 minutes from Gatlinburg).
Every time we visit Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg, we head out early the day we are coming home to drive through Cades Cove. Home to a small mountain community in the 1800’s, the area has been preserved to look as it did two centuries ago. It consists of an auto tour as well as hiking and biking trails.
We always drive through Cades Cove, and the total 11-mile trip takes about 3 hours to complete. This includes stopping at several of the historic sites along the loop for photos and to learn more about the early inhabitants of the area. There are also churches, businesses, and more, as this area was similar to a town for several settlers a couple hundred years ago.
One of the homes you can see is that of John and Lurany Oliver, the first European settlers of the Smoky Mountains. They came in 1818 with little more than their belongings and their first child. The home you see when visiting their land was built in 1822.
The Olivers’ son, Elijah, also had a cabin in Cades Cove. The boy was born in the Olivers Cabin in 1824, and never left the area as he grew up and got married. An interesting story regarding his home is the room built on half of the front porch.
Elijah lived through a time of hospitality and being friendly to your neighbors in Cades Cove. Families would gladly take in wayward strangers, and it wasn’t uncommon for the homeowners to have an additional room built onto their house. These ‘stranger rooms’ would occupy fisherman or other new-comers to the area for a night or two. The room attached to the porch of Elijah’s cabin was his ‘stranger room’.
The Cable Mill Historic Area & Visitor Center, located toward the middle of the auto tour at Cades Cove, is home to a number of buildings that were transported here by the National Park. The area features a sorghum mill, barn, corn crib, smokehouse, and the Gregg-Cable House, the home of Becky Cable.
Becky Cable was an extraordinary woman whose home actually stood on Forge Creek Road in Cades Cove until it was moved after her death in 1940. The woman raised her brother’s children there as well as ran a boarding house. She had lots of cattle and gardens that she tended to with the help of the kids and her borders.
There are a few churches through the Cades Cove area as well. They still look as they did when they were built in the 1800’s. There were two Baptist churches and one Methodist church for the community. Here is the Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church, the first built in the area.
Along with all of the sites to see, the nature shots you can get are some of the most breathtaking in the Smokies. I literally racked up over 300 photos on my camera in the 3 hours we were here! I want to get every angle of every mountain, stream, path, etc. It’s simply amazing here.
Have you ever been to Cades Cove, or somewhere like this?
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