The incredible photo above was taken by Dutch Roth during a hike to Rainbow Falls on February 16th, 1958. The photo below, also by Dutch Roth, was taken on the old Indian Gap Highway on February 22, 1947. Exactly 64 years ago today!
William “Fighting Billy” Tipton was Revolutionary War veteran and the first of the Tipton clan to acquire land in the Smoky Mountains. This was in the 1820s under Tennessee’s Land Grant program.
Colonel Hamp Tipton, a veteran of the Civil War, built the two story cabin above in the early 1870s. Miss Lucy and Miss Lizzy were Hamp’s daughters and worked as schoolteachers in the Cove.
The Tipton Place is one of the best examples of the settlers homesteads along the Cades Cove loop road in the Smokies. There’s a stand of old-fashioned bee gums in the back yard, and across the road is a double-pen corn crib and a fine example of a cantilever barn.
The barn pictured below is actually a replica of the original.
Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mtns Photos at the William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Road in Gatlinburg, TN.
During the greater span of history in the Smoky Mountains, Indian Gap has been the main route across the mountains. Long a Cherokee trail, Indian Gap Road actually charged a toll in the 1830s. In exchange for the payment, farmers and merchants and travelling families were allowed to endure the rocky and rutted, steep and impossibly arduous journey. During the Civil War William Thomas and a party of 600 Cherokees converted the old trace over Indian Gap into a road that served the armies of both sides.
The photo above, taken by Dutch Roth in 1928, shows the soft swag of the gap as it was before the current Clingman’s Dome Road was built. The photo below, also by Roth, shows that road construction in progress.
Indian Gap today is a parking area for the Road Prong Trail, which descends on the trace of the old Indian Gap Road. The Appalachian Trail also crosses here, on the path between Newfound Gap and Clingman’s Dome.
The Thomas Divide is a 14-mile spine along the eastern side of the Deep Creek watershed. The Kanati Fork Trail climbs up the eastern side of the Thomas Divide, rising over 2000 feet from Newfound Gap Rd in a series of switchbacks until it meets the Thomas Divide Trail on the ridge. The two trails are thus linked, and provide a nice five-mile hike featuring both high-elevation views and lower elevation deep woods. However, to hike both trails you will need to have two cars, parking one at each trailhead, unless you plan to hike a 10-mile round-trip.
The trailhead for Thomas Divide is 3.4 miles south of Newfound Gap, and the Kanati Fork trailhead is 8.3 miles south of Newfound Gap. In the springtime of the year, you might want to hike up the Kanati Fork, which is an excellent wildflower walk. Other times of the year, you might prefer a 5-mile meander down the mountain, starting at Thomas Divide and finishing at the Kanati Fork trailhead.
In his excellent book, Hiking Trails of the Great Smoky Mountains, my friend Ken Wise recounts some history for these two trails. Thomas Divide is named for William Thomas, a white man who was adopted by the Cherokee and eventually became their Chief in 1839. It was Thomas who organized a party of 600 Cherokees to convert the old trace over Indian Gap into a road over the Smokies during the Civil War.
The name Kanati refers to the Cherokee legend of a cave that contained all of the game animals of the world. Kanati, or “Lucky Hunter,” was the gatekeeper of the cave and had unlimited access to the wealth of food.
The photo above shows a gigantic burl that forms the entire base of a tree along the Kanati Fork Trail. Below are two of many Painted Trilliums that grow on the spine of the Thomas Divide and bloom in late April.
After the hike, please come out the the Arts and Crafts Trail along Glades Rd in Gatlinburg. The William Britten Gallery offers exclusive Smoky Mtn Photographs for your home.
This was just a fun assignment. I had the photo above, taken by Jim Thompson sometime in the 1920s or 1930s along Little River Road in the Smoky Mountains, between Townsend and Metcalf Bottoms. So I set out one day last week to see if I could find the exact location, and see what it looks like today, if it had changed much.
Below is what I found. The rock overhang looks the same after 80 or 90 years. Still has those cracks up high. It looks like there might be some fill along the river to widen the road. But really just about the same.
In the days before barbed wire, the traditional fencing material in the Smoky Mountains was rails split from a rot-resistant hardwood such as chestnut or yellow locust. The fence above at John Olivers place in Cades Cove is known as a snake, worm, or zig-zag. Sometimes the rails were just stacked up in zig-zag fashion, and sometimes there was a corner post added for stability, as in the picture below from the Mountain Farm Museum.
Another common variation of the split rail fence is post and rail fence, which was built in a way that allowed a straight line.
The Smoky Mountains pioneers also created stone fences, similar to the ones that are so common in New England. It is likely that stone fences were made when clearing areas that were very rocky, such as along the Roaring Fork pictured below.
Eventually, in the later 1800s, barbed wire became available, although it had to be bought rather than simply using native materials. The fence below is in Cades Cove.
The William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg features full display of Smoky Mountain photos. Please stop and visit during your next trip to the Smokies!
100 years ago in the early 20th century, the Elkmont area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was a bustling center of tourism for the wealthy. The Appalachian Club, Wonderland Hotel, Daisy Town, Society Hill and Millionaires Row comprised the new Smoky Mountains resort. The Little River Railroad scheduled daily excursions from Knoxville to Elkmont. Eventually the formation of the National Park ceased this kind of development in the Smokies. Owners of the many cabins of the Elkmont resort were given leases that finally ran out in 1992.
Today the remains of the resort have emerged from a controversial phase which might have seen their demolition. Nineteen of the rustic cabins are being preserved for the sake of history, with most of these along the main street of Daisy Town. The Park has constructed new parking facilities as well as restoring the cabins to a state of permanent preservation. The Park has also recently completed rehabilitation of the Appalachian Clubhouse.
I find myself fascinated with these old cabins and can’t resist sneaking in for some photo sessions.
Out on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg you can view the complete display of my Smoky Mountains photos at the William Britten Gallery.