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)
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.
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.