National Park Adventures & History

  1. Sorghum-making demonstrations return to the Smokies

    Sorghum-making demonstration

    As the days grow shorter and the leaves begin to change, it can only mean one thing – it’s sorghum making time in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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  2. Family Heirlooms Come Back to the Smokies

    Alexander Lawson - Dresser

    Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently received a priceless donation of Cades Cove artifacts to the museum collections. The great-granddaughter of Dan and Sidney Lawson, Robin Derryberry of Chattanooga, TN, donated a chest of drawers, family Bible, wedding portraits, and other family photographs to the National Park Service for longterm preservation at the National Park Service Collections Preservation Center in Townsend, TN.

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  3. The Road that Led Around the World

    Newfound Gap Road

    By Mike Aday

    What do Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Ethiopia, Panama and Alaska have in common? They can all boast major roads built by one man, Knoxville native John L. Humbard. Well, technically, a lot of men were involved, but Humbard supervised them all.

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  4. Little Sluice of Heaven: A tiny sliver of the A.T.

    Rhodo Tunnel Chestnut Branch

    By Lisa Duff

    Memorial Day Monday found me with a mild case of cabin fever, which was a bit strange since CF is typically a wintertime ailment. What happened was this: I’d successfully managed to add a few at-home days to the end of my vacation to allow for ease of real-world re-entry, and Monday, as it turned out, was one day too many.

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  5. The Strange Case of Cades Lake

    Cades Map

    Depending on who you were and what you stood for, the idea of turning most of Cades Cove into a 50-foot-deep lake—three miles long and two miles wide—was either brilliant or terrible.

    Pro-lake constituents included National Park Service Director Arno B. Cammerer (immortalized by the naming of Mt. Cammerer), Tennessee Governor Gordon Browning, the Great Smoky Mountains Conservation Association, park booster Col. David Chapman, and Knoxville City Manager George Dempster.

    Those opposed included acting and former NPS Directors Stephen Mather and Horace Albright, Robert Sterling Yard of the National Parks Association, and stalwart conservationists Harvey Broome Benton MacKaye.

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  6. The Civilian Conservation Corps Art Program in the Smokies

    Many visitors to the Smokies are familiar with the Civilian Conservation Corps. This Depression-era government program was one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s most popular and successful relief programs. Millions of young men were fed, clothed and housed, and in return, they planted more than 3 billion trees, worked on soil conservation projects in the western United States, and helped construct hiking trails and other infrastructure in state and national parks. Their toil helped shape the modern state and national park system we enjoy today. The Smokies are no exception.

    To find evidence of CCC handiwork, visitors today need to look no further than the park headquarters building in Gatlinburg, numerous features along Highway 441, including various bridges, tunnels and the Rockefeller Memorial, not to mention the hundreds of miles of hiking trails in the park.

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  7. The most important Smokies author you’ve probably never heard of

    Mary Noailles Murfree

    You may be familiar with Ron Rash, the author of the novels Serena and The Risen, as well as Charles Frazier who wrote Cold Mountain. But have you heard of Mary Noailles Murfree? How about Charles Egbert Craddock? The last was a trick question since Charles Egbert Craddock was actually the pseudonym used by Murfreesboro, Tennessee native Mary Noailles Murfree (1850-1922).

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  8. A conversation with the authors of the new Kephart biography

    Book cover of Back of Beyond by George Ellison and Janet McCue

    Working with literary authorities George Ellison and Janet McCue to edit their new book, Back of Beyond: A Horace Kephart Biography, was like being a roadie for a dynamic singer-songwriter duo (imagine going on tour with Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell). George and Janet are so creative, so steeped in the literature of the Smokies region, and so attuned to all things Kephart that it was mesmerizing and magical to interact with them on a daily basis.

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  9. Presidential Pets & the Great Smoky Mountains

    Presidential Pets

    The White House has been home to more pets than people over its long history. First Pets have ranged from the commonplace, like Bo, President Obama’s Portuguese water dog, to the Scottish terriers, English springer spaniel, and cat that President George W. Bush. Others have included the bizarre and downright dangerous, such as the zebra kept by Theodore Roosevelt and the alligator, a gift from the Marquis de Lafayette, that John Quincy Adams kept in a White House bathroom.

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  10. Exploring Laurel Falls again, 15 years later

    Exploring Laurel Falls

    By Elise Anderson

    Kemp Writer in Residence

    After attempting Ramsey Cascades as my first hike in the Smokies this year and turning around just ¾ mile shy of the top (wisely, or I’d have never made it back down), I decided to re-visit a classic for my second hike of the year: Laurel Falls. The 1.3-mile trail up to the waterfall is much easier than Ramsey Cascades, ranking at a difficulty level of 2 compared to Ramsey’s 12.

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