“No story of Cades Cove can ever be complete…” These humble words written by A. Randolph Shields in 1977 comprise the first line of The Cades Cove Story. The enduring legacy of this work continues to connect readers to the lives of the people who once lived in one of the most beloved places in all the national parks.
Publisher Great Smoky Mountains Association, a nonprofit partner of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, recently decided to redesign and refresh the text, and now The Cades Cove Story has returned to national park visitor center bookstores in Tennessee and North Carolina. Proceeds from sales of the book, along with all visitor center sales, remain in Great Smoky Mountains National Park where they are used to fund educational, scientific and preservation efforts.
“Our visitor center bookstore staff, especially those in Cades Cove and Townsend (Tenn.), regularly recommend this book to visitors who want to learn more about what life was like before the establishment of the national park,” said GSMA Retail Director Dawn Roark. “The Cades Cove Story is one of our best sellers, due mostly to the easy, truthful way Mr. Shields tells this endearing story.”
Roark went on to say that the book’s appeal is anticipated to grow as a direct result of the updated design work, including the addition of color photographs, bonus archival images and a more modern typography, completed by GSMA’s Lead Publication Specialist Lisa Horstman, designer of several GSMA publications including Women of the Smokies and Pictures for a Park. Horstman is also the author and illustrator of such children’s bestsellers as The Great Smoky Mountains Salamander Ball and Sabrina.
“We expect the new look and feel Lisa created will appeal most notably to a new generation of readers,” Roark said. “The Smoky Mountains are significant for many reasons, not the least of which is the story of immense sacrifice mountain families were asked to make so that a national park could be established here. One of our most important jobs at Great Smoky Mountains Association is to keep these stories alive, and in doing so we fulfill our nonprofit mission of support for the National Park Service.”
The Cades Cove Story author A. Randolph Shields was born in Cades Cove in 1913 and spent his childhood there in the days before lands were purchased for the creation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He went on to become an educator, an aquatic and fisheries biologist, an instructor of botany, a professor and chairman of the Department of Biology at Maryville College and a summer ranger-naturalist in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As a native son of the cove and a student of nature, perhaps no one better understood both the sacrifices made by mountain families who gave up their land for the sake of the national park and the resulting biological wonderland gained by all.
“This is the story of those families living—even thriving—in their mountain community,” said GSMA Videographer and Publications Associate Valerie Polk. “They scratched successful farms out of the wilderness, practiced their faith in churches built by their own hands, saw to it that their children were educated and managed to stay connected to news and events from beyond their sheltering mountains.
“For those who visit the national park today, they left a lasting memory of their presence in the homes, churches, outbuildings—and even a large water-powered grist mill—that remain to create a patchwork image of the cove through the years,” said Polk, who also wrote, filmed and directed A Place Called Cades Cove, one of GSMA’s five full-length Smoky Mountain Explorer films dedicated to Great Smoky Mountains National Park themes. “A. Randolph Shields dedicated a portion of his accomplished career to filling in that patchwork image with the histories and lifeways of the people who once lived The Cades Cove Story.”
Great Smoky Mountains Association’s publications are designed to enhance greater public understanding, enjoyment and appreciation of the national park. A national park partner, GSMA has provided more than $44 million to support the park’s educational, scientific and historical programs since its inception 66 years ago.
Support for the association is achieved primarily from sales of educational publications and from annual membership dues. Those who wish to enrich their national park experience are encouraged to become GSMA members. For more information about GSMA, publications, membership and volunteer opportunities, visit SmokiesInformation.org.