The loop road through Cades Cove valley shows off rich scenery and abundant wildlife. But beyond the road lie secrets you won’t see from your car. Pull over and explore these intriguing stops.
Near Cades Cove’s Baptist church, look for a sweetgum tree with a broken metal tire rim embedded in its trunk. Stand in its shade and recall a “date which will live in infamy”: Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor day.
Farmer Golman Myers was listening to the radio and heard President Roosevelt somberly announce the attack. Myers immediately pulled up a sweetgum sapling and replanted it in his front yard, placing a tire rim around its base and saying, “We will remember this forever.” The farmhouse is gone, but the tree and the memory remain.
When Matilda Shields’s husband abandoned her and their son, neighbors rallied to build them a rough-hewn cabin. Henry Whitehead later started courting Matilda and vowed to build her a fine home.
Henry kept his word. He built their beautifully crafted cabin in front of Matilda’s rugged shack. But rather than tear down the old cabin, Henry stretched out the roof of the new one, like a welcoming hand, and rested it just at the edge of his wife’s old home. You’ll still see the two cabins linked by Henry’s roofed porch.
Gourley’s Pond is an ideal detour for a break from loop road traffic. Park at the LeQuire Cemetery then walk down the road about 200 feet until you see a path on the right. The path leads to the pond, where in spring and summer you’ll encounter dragonflies and frogs. Watch for more wildlife rustling through the woods.
Near Tipton Place, look for what appears to be a barn perched on stilts. This barn is cantilevered, meaning its upper loft hangs far out over its ground-level base. The deep overhang protects the barn’s contents from rain and provides shade for animals.
J.J. Gregory opened this huge cave as a tourist attraction in 1925. The cave later served as a Cold War fallout shelter. Today the cave is closed, but its striking, 10-foot-high entrance is worth a photo. Find it near John Oliver Cabin.
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