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Formed some 100 to 200 million years ago, The Great Smoky Mountains are full of history and showcase some of the earliest settlements and how people lived many generations ago.

Before the first European settlers arrived in the Great Smoky Mountains, the area was occupied by the Indian tribe known as the Cherokee.  

Here are 5 of the most historical and interesting sites to visit on your next vacation to the Smoky Mountains.

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#1 Cades Cove

Probably the most visited places in the Smoky Mountains is Cades Cove. This popular destination is full of history dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. The first permanent settlers arrived in Cades Cove in 1818. There are many than 12 historical sites in Cades Cove including log cabins, barns, cemeteries and primitive structures. 

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#2 Roaring Fork

Around 1800 - 1810 the first settlers arrived in “White Oak Flats,” which today we know as Gatlinburg. Roaring Fork was inhabited shortly thereafter, mostly because of its rushing river and fertile farm land. Today more than 5 historical structures can be found along the Roaring Fork route that is accessed just outside of downtown Gatlinburg. These include homes, barns, well houses and primitive structures used by the early settlers. 


#3 Elkmont 

In 1908, Elkmont was established by the Little River Lumber Company as their main headquarters for logging the timber-rich Smoky Mountain area. In 1910, the lumber company began selling prime tracts of land to prominent businessmen in Knoxville, Tennessee and in 1912 the Wonderland resort hotel was constructed. Today, more than 18 historical structures remain standing in Elkmont, preserved and managed by the park service. 

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#4 Little Greenbrier School

Little Greenbrier School is a primitive schoolhouse in the now lost town of Little Greenbrier which is located near the Wears Valley entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains. Classes were first held at Little Greenbrier school in 1882. 

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#5 Newfound Gap

Effectively established in 1934 and dedicated in 1940, Newfound Gap served as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s backdrop for his ceremonial speech opening the national park for all of the public’s enjoyment and use. The overlook, which was constructed for the President’s visit, still stands today at the summit, where Tennessee and North Carolina meet.

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