interior of historic cabin
May 7, 2024

When you visit the Smokies, you can practically feel the history around you. Smoky Mountain history is full of unique stories and individuals who helped to shape the area into what it is today. From pioneers, to native tribes, and politicians, here are some of the people who helped to shape Smoky Mountain history:

1. The Cherokee Tribe

The original inhabitants of the Smokies, the Cherokee Tribe played a huge role in shaping Smoky Mountain history. The tribe has called the mountains home for more than 1,000 years and there is a rich legacy of connection between the members of the Cherokee Tribe and the land in the Smokies. The impact of the Cherokee Tribe can still be observed in the Smoky Mountains today, making this group a significant part of shaping Smoky Mountain history.

2. The Ogle Family

bud ogle cabin

As the first settlers of Gatlinburg, William and Martha Jane Ogle are two more of the people who helped shape Smoky Mountain history. The Ogle family helped to establish the area back in the early 1800s and their legacy is still strong in the area today. Places like the Ogle Brothers General Store and Five Oaks Farm Kitchen carry on the traditions of this pioneer family. Additionally, you can visit the Bud Ogle Cabin right near Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, allowing you to get a glimpse of the family’s history!

3. John Sevier

Yet another of the people who helped to shape Smoky Mountain history is John Sevier, one of the founding fathers of the state of Tennessee. Sevier fought in the American Revolution and served as the first governor of Tennessee. Sevier County and Sevierville are both named after this influential member of the state’s history. As the state’s first governor, Sevier played a key role in helping Tennessee to develop into the area it is today.

4. Franklin D. Roosevelt

fdr memorial

Another significant figure who helped to shape Smoky Mountain history is former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, as he first dedicated Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1940 at Newfound Gap, preserving it for generations to come. According to the National Park Service, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the largest federally protected upland landmass east of the Mississippi river. As the president that established these protections, FDR is permanently a part of Smoky Mountain history.

5. Radford Gatlin

Did you know that Gatlinburg got its name from a resident who was actually disliked by most of the area community? It’s true! Gatlin purchased land near the Ogle family and established a general store, which soon gained a post office. Due to the fact that the post office was inside Gatlin’s store, the town became known as “Gatlinburg.” Eventually, the feud between the Gatlins and the Ogles resulted in the Gatlins leaving town, but the name remained!

Now that you know about some of these important people who helped to shape Smoky Mountain history, you are probably even more excited to check out the area and see some of the historical sites here in the Smokies. Find out about some of the interesting historic buildings that are located in the Smoky Mountains and plan your visit to these sites today!