Most lifelong Tennesseans are familiar with the Smoky Mountains, having taken the occasional family trip to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, or having listened to any number of Dolly Parton songs. However, in the midst of all that East Tennessee has to offer, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has a rich and rugged history that is often forgotten.
Before the Smokies were transformed into a flourishing national park, they were home to Native Americans and families of Appalachian settlers, who hunted, grew crops, and traded within their communities. These people dealt with the harsh realities of mountain life with a strength and resilience that has come to be synonymous with East Tennesseans today.
A picture of the Margaret Jane Walker and Louisa Susan Walker, who were granted a special lifetime lease to continue living in their family home once the park was created. (Image courtesy of nps.gov)
In 1926, when Congress approved plans to build a national park, in an effort to preserve the land, John D. Rockefeller donated five million dollars to the project. The U.S. government also put forth two million dollars, and residents of Tennessee and North Carolina offered up land for the park. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was officially established on June 15, 1934, and in 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt attended the dedication ceremony.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt speaking at the dedication ceremony for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Today, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the U.S., with over 11 million visitors annually. Two of the most popular areas within the park are Cade’s Cove and Clingman’s Dome, which is the highest point of the Great Smoky Mountains, at 6,643 feet.
Here at Volunteer Traditions, we love the Smoky Mountains so much that we decided to create a few products that pay homage to them. Wear them everywhere and show your love for the beautiful landscape of East Tennessee:
SMOKIES POCKET TEES - $32
HORIZON POCKET TEES - $32
HORIZON PROMESH HAT - $25
VT LOGO MOUNTAINS - $2.50