The Caldwell Place in the Cataloochee Valley of the Smoky Mountains
December 12, 2022

Cataloochee Valley is a popular place in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park known for its beautiful views. It is also one of the best places in the area to spot elk. What you may not know is that the Cataloochee Valley was once a thriving settlement, home to about 1,200 people. Even though no one lives there anymore, a few buildings still stand as remnants of the community. They remind present-day visitors of people’s hard work. With that being said, here are 4 historical structures that you will see in Cataloochee Valley:

1. Beech Grove School

Beech Grove Schoolhouse in the Cataloochee Valley of the Smokies

The Beech Grove School was built in 1901, and it was one of 3 schools in the Cataloochee Valley. Students in the community would attend school Monday through Thursday from 8:00-4:00. They would learn about typical school subjects such as reading, writing, and math. On Friday afternoons, all the parents would gather in the schoolhouse to see what the students were learning through recitals or spelling bees. A typical school year would go from November to January. When you visit today, school is not in session. However, the building is very well-maintained with a chalk board at the front facing rows of desks. The atmosphere will put you in a learning mood.

2. Little Cataloochee Church

Christian faith was very important to the residents of the Cataloochee Valley. The Little Cataloochee Church was built in 1889, and it was a popular place for people to come together. While Sunday School was held every week, church services could only be held once a month because the preachers were circuit riders. These were preachers that would ride around on horseback and serve multiple congregations. If you visit today, you can go inside and see the church benches as well as the pulpit where the preacher stood. Also, the church bell still works and you can ring it yourself. Other sights to see around the area include the cemetery next to the church. A lot of the Cataloochee Valley settlers are buried here.

3. The Palmer House

The Palmer Place in the Cataloochee Valley of the Smokies

The Palmer House was built around 1860 by George Lafayette Palmer (AKA Uncle Fate). He moved to the area after he gambled all his money away. The house is called a “dog-trot” house with two cabins side by side and an open space in between them. The kitchen and living area were in one cabin, while the living quarters were in the other. A room in the house was even used as the post office in the 1900s until the property was taken over by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

4. The Caldwell House

The Caldwell House was built by Hiram Caldwell. Its construction was started in 1903 and finished in 1906. It is a charming white house overlooking Rough Fork Creek. Even though the house has no furnishings inside, there is a barn beside the house that you can explore. There is also a picnic table where you can sit comfortably and take in the picturesque Cataloochee Valley views.

We hope you enjoyed learning a little more about these historical structures in the Cataloochee Valley. If you want to see them in person, start planning your visit by learning more about the Cataloochee Valley and the area around it!