Gatlinburg is a U.S. city that is situated in Tennessee in the county of Sevier. It covers an area of ten square miles and has a population of thirty-four hundred residents. The city is surrounded by ridges and mountains on all sides, with the most prominent being the Sugarland and Le Conte Mountain which is located just south of the city. On its western quarter is Cove Mountain and to the east is Grapeyard Ridge. The main highway is U.S. route 441, which runs through the center of town and has a north to south trajectory. Gatlinburg has become a popular vacation destination, due to the fact that it is located right next to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The area of Gatlinburg has been occupied for hundreds of years by Native American tribes such as the Cherokee. These tribes used a trail known as the Indian Gap Trail to make it into the forest of the Smoky Mountains where game was abundant. This path connected the Great Indian Warpath and the Rutherford Indian Trace. United States highway 441 follows the same route nowadays, though it rises at the Newfound Gap and not the Indian Gap. During the eighteenth century, the area was home to a large number of European fur traders who did business with the local Native American tribes. These business relationships allowed a South Carolina native named William Ogle to secure the help of the Cherokee in building a cabin in the area. After construction on the cabin began, he returned home to secure supplies and retrieve his family. But, after he returned to South Carolina, Mr. Ogle succumbed to malaria and died in 1803. His widow, Martha Ogle, made the trip to where the cabin was begun and constructed it at the crossroads of the West Fork and Baskins Creek. This cabin still stands to this day in the center of the city.
After the War of 1812, the area saw a great influx of settlers into the area. A large number of these settlers were paid in tracts of land for their service in the war. At this time, the settlement was known as White Oak Flats. The name would change in 1856 after a post office was started in the general store of Radford Gatlin. When the Civil War erupted, the town would try to remain neutral. It failed at this task when Confederate commander Colonel Will Thomas took the town over to protect the salt peter mines. An attachment of Northern forces was dispatched in an attempt to remove the confederates. This forced the Colonel to retreat back into North Carolina. Though the Confederates never regained the town, guerrilla raids on the settlement continued to the end of the war. After the war, the establishment of the railroad led to the development of a thriving timber industry. As workers flooded the area, Andrew Jackson Huff founded a saw mill and the locals began to make a side income by providing living quarters to loggers. In 1912, the first official school was established in the city by the Pi Beta Phi Women’s Fraternity. As logging activity increased in the area, conservationists called for federal action in preserving the forest. This led to the federal government buying over seventy-six thousand acres from a local lumber company, and in 1926 the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established.
The establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park caused a radical change in Gatlinburg. Over five hundred thousand tourists passed through the town each year and in the ten year span between 1940 and 1950 land value in the city rose from fifty dollars an acre to over eight thousand dollars an acre. Today, the city continues to be an important tourist destination for the state of Tennessee. One of the more popular attractions in the city is Ober Gatlinburg. Ober Gatlinburg is a cross between a ski area and an amusement park. It was founded in 1962 and is located in the mountains of the city. It contains the Smoky Mountain Wildlife Adventure, a place where visitors can get a close up look at animals from the area which include black bears, flying squirrels, turtles, snakes, raccoons, opossums and other animals. It also features a one hundred and twenty passenger aerial tram which ferries people from the downtown portion of the city to the top of the mountain. Other features of Ober Gatlinburg include a snow tubing slide, Indoor mall, alpine slide, a skating rink, lounge, gift shops, clothing stores, chair lifts and bumper cars. There are also bungee jumping courses, go-carts, miniature golf, Zeke’s Place shooting range, a water ride and a velcro wall jump.
Dollywood is another popular attraction in the area of Gatlinburg. This is a theme park owned by country music star Dolly Parton, as well as the Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation. It is located in Pigeon Forge and employes over three thousand people. This park has thrill rides, craft exhibitions and features music of the Smoky Mountains. Also located here is the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame and the Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Restaurant. This park has over two and a half million visitors each and every year. Adjacent to the park is Dollywood’s Splash Country. It was opened in 2001 and has many features. Some of these features include Bear Mountain Fire Tower, The Cascades, Down Bound Float Trip, Big Bear Plunge, Mountain Waves, Wild River Falls, Raging River Rapids, Mountain Scream, The Butterfly, Fire Tower Falls, Swift Water Run and Little Creek Falls. It also features a number of restaurants which include Miss Mamie’s, Brush Fire Grill, Uncle Elmer’s, Depot Grill, Outpost Snacks, High Country Provisions, Cascades Lemonade, Campsite Grill and Low Country Snacks.
Other popular attractions in the city of Gatlinburg include the Gatlinburg Trolley, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, the Sweet Fanny Adams Theater, the Church of Christ Winterfest, Hillbilly Golf, Old Gatlinburg Golf & Games, Gatlinburg Craftsmen Fair, the Gatlinburg Space Needle, Gatlinburg Golf Course, Hollywood Star Cars Museum, Fannie Farkle’s, A Walk in the Woods, Cooter’s Place, Hollywood Wax Museum and Ripley’s Davy Crockett Mini Golf. The city is also home to a number of hotels which include Bearskin Lodge, Edgewater Hotel, Zoder’s Inn and the Fairfield Inn.