In 1819, rights to Cades Cove,
known as the Calhoun Treaty, were given to the State of Tennessee and few
Cherokee remained. In 1821, pioneers
from Virginia and later North Carolina, settled in the Cove bringing old
world knowledge, tools, and skills they learned from the Indians. The
Oliver, Tipton, Gregory, Sparks, Burchfield and Cable families were among
the first to settle, clearing the land for homes, barns, smoke-houses and
With crops like
corn, gristmills, used to grind the corn into wheat and flour, became the
Cove's first industry, followed by blacksmith shops, wood workers,
storekeepers and distillers. The Cable Mill Historic Area & Visitor
Center, stop 11 on the Cove
tour, operates today with the assistance of the Great Smoky Mountains
Natural History Association. By the 1850's, Cades Cove supported about 132
families or 685 people.
||In 1927, after
the federal government took control of much of the land north of the Cove,
most farmers sold their land. Original
settlers had moved to go work for ALCOA and other hydro-electric projects
and others headed West.
to one of the earliest settlers, John W. Oliver, fought the state for 6
years to keep his land, however the TN. Supreme Court rejected that idea
and in December of 1937, Oliver moved. Some families were allowed to remain in the Cove with certain
restrictions, but many left and by 1944 the last school was shut down and
the Post Office was closed in 1947.
Cove is the most visited part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
with 2 million visitors per year and is also a "historic
district." With the farmers gone, farming had left and officials
issued permits to cattle owners to allow grazing. At the same time, the
Soil Conservation Service drained most of the Cove into the Western end.
Repairs on the ditches, once dug out by the original farmers, are being
done to preserve the wetlands and grazing and haying has been phased
The 11 mile one-way loop is a paved
circle of history, homesteads, grist mills, churches and the pioneer way
of life. To truly experience the scenery, wildlife and tranquility, park
the car and take a stroll!
nature is incomparable...black bears, skunks, raccoons, coyote, wild
turkeys, woodchucks and white-tailed deer...just to name a few...roam the
open fields and forested mountains of the Cove. Restored settler homes,
barns and churches remain preserved, depicting the pioneer way of life
inside the Cove.
You can spend a
entire day inside the Cove with the whole family and not experience it
all! Other than the 18 must stops on the Cove
loop, the Cades
Cove Campground offers a disposal station, wood for sale, bicycle rentals
and a small grocery store. You don't have to be a camper to enjoy the many
Guided tours near the Cove are available on horseback for $25.00 per person,
carriage rides for $10.00 per person, hay
rides for $6.00 per person and ranger-led guided hay rides for
$8.00 per person.
The Cove Loop
Road is closed to motor vehicles on Saturdays and Wednesdays until 10 am
until late September. Bicycles are always welcome and bike rentals are
available from April through January. Restroom facilities are available at
Orientation Shelter/Ranger Station at the Cove entrance and the Cable Mill
Area and Visitor Center.