The First Cabin Ever Built In Gatlinburg.jpg

Named for the trees growing thickly in the Smoky Mountains, the spot then called White Oak Flats was “paradise” in William Ogle’s eyes. When Ogle visited here in 1802, he was so taken with the well-watered, wooded hills that he chose White Oak Flats for his family’s new home.

Ogle hewed logs, left them at the site he’d picked for a cabin, then headed for South Carolina to fetch his wife Martha and their seven children back to this promised land. But he died before he could return to White Oak Flats, trading his earthly paradise for another one.

Newly widowed Martha, a determined settler to her core, packed up the children, her brother and her brother’s family, and headed north to Tennessee to fulfill William’s dream. His hand-cut timber was still there, waiting for them on the patch he had marked as their own. The family built the first cabin in Tennessee’s Smokies, finishing it in 1807. The Ogles are considered the area’s first settlers of European stock.

Serving the Community

Ogle family descendants lived in the modest log cabin for more than a century, as White Oak Flats turned into historic Gatlinburg. After 1910, the cabin served its community as a school, then a hospital and later a museum—fitting jobs for a building that has seen all of Gatlinburg’s history since before there was any such town.

The name White Oak Flats is gone but the Ogle name lives on. Today’s Ogles, descended from William and Martha’s family, still live in this area. In 2016, the town relocated this first cabin, which now sits, appropriately, next to the Gatlinburg Welcome Center.

With its stone foundation and chimney and its log structure, the Ogle cabin is typical of many Smoky Mountain cabins. The natural wood and stone that surrounded the Ogles and other pioneers became their building materials—easily available, and durable too.

Live Like the Pioneers (Almost!)

Martha Ogle and her children would recognize today’s Smoky Mountains cabins as the descendants of their own modest home.  

Natural materials are everywhere in even the newest vacation cabins, from honey-toned pine paneling to stone fireplaces and log exteriors. What’s changed most in more than 200 years is the level of convenience and comfort wrapped up in those rustic looks. When you rent a vacation cabin here, you come home each day to modern amenities set in classic cabin beauty.

Visit the Ogle cabin and learn about the hardy family who gave Gatlinburg its start and built the ancestor of all Tennessee Smokies cabins.