I want­ed to add some thoughts on Gatlinburg.

First a lit­tle history:—————————–

A Brief History of Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Nes­tled in the val­ley of the Lit­tle Pigeon River’s West Fork and sur­round­ed on three sides by the majes­tic Nation­al Park, Gatlin­burg has evolved from a rur­al ham­let to a thriv­ing gate­way community.

Set­tled in the ear­ly 1800s, it was first named White Oak Flats for the abun­dant native white oak trees cov­er­ing the land­scape. It is believed a mid­dle-aged wid­ow, Martha Jane Huskey Ogle, was the first offi­cial set­tler here. She came with her fam­i­ly to start a new life in what her late-hus­band described as a “Land of Par­adise” in East Ten­nessee. Soon after, such now famil­iar fam­i­ly names as McCarter, Rea­gan, Wha­ley, and Tren­tham took up res­i­dence along local streams and hollows.

In 1854, Rad­ford C. Gatlin arrived in White Oak Flats and opened the vil­lage’s sec­ond gen­er­al store. Con­tro­ver­sy soon sur­round­ed him and was even­tu­al­ly ban­ished from the com­mu­ni­ty. How­ev­er, the city still bears his name.

As a self-sus­tain­ing com­mu­ni­ty, Gatlin­burg changed lit­tle in the first one hun­dred years. When the Civ­il War erupt­ed, some locals joined the Union, oth­ers the Con­fed­er­a­cy. But, in gen­er­al, the moun­tain peo­ple tried to remain neu­tral. Although only one Civ­il War skir­mish was fought in Gatlin­burg, count­less raids were made by both sides to gath­er vital resources need­ed to sus­tain the war effort. As with much of the South, depri­va­tion and hard­ship per­sist­ed long after the war.

In the ear­ly 1800s, edu­ca­tion came to the area in the form of sub­scrip­tion schools, where par­ents paid for each child’s edu­ca­tion. It was not until 1912, when a pub­lic set­tle­ment school was formed in Gatlin­burg. Cre­at­ed by the Pi Beta Phi Fra­ter­ni­ty, the school not only pro­vid­ed aca­d­e­m­ic and prac­ti­cal edu­ca­tion, it also con­tributed to a rebirth of Appalachi­an arts and crafts and the “cot­tage craft indus­try” movement.

With the for­ma­tion of the Smoky Moun­tain nation­al park, tourism boost­ed the area’s econ­o­my. Many of the dis­placed moun­tain fam­i­lies moved into town, either devel­op­ing new enter­pris­es or tak­ing jobs in new hotels, restau­rants and ser­vice facil­i­ties to meet the needs of the bur­geon­ing tourist indus­try. Progress slowed con­sid­er­ably dur­ing World War II. But, by wars end, tourists returned with a vengeance and the sleepy lit­tle vil­lage of Gatlin­burg expand­ed to meet the demands. Incor­po­rat­ed in 1945, it has since devel­oped into a four-sea­son resort and con­ven­tion mec­ca. (Read the rest here)

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So busy

Gatlin­burg has changed a lot since I have been there.

Just by dri­ving down the streets or just out­side of town you can see how much has changed.

Many (and I do mean many) hotels have closed down or have been con­vert­ed to tiny shops and offices.

Many of the shops that I would always vis­it are gone and have been replaced with oth­er shops or just emp­ty stores. Even foun­tains and water­falls have been replaced with gardens.

Too much

Even though more attrac­tions have sprung up and the streets were just as busy, it just had a feel­ing of a slow death. Many stores had liq­ui­da­tion sales going on and it just felt different.

What once felt like a wel­com­ing lit­tle ski town, is now feel­ing like a tourist death trap. Ober Gatlin­burg showed the worst of it. Bare­ly any­one there, all the shopkeeper/workers seemed bored and want­i­ng the day to be over to go home.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the place, but it no longer has the excite­ment it used to.

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