History of Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg is a popular resort town in eastern Tennessee with a year-round population of 3,300. The town enjoys a great sense of history that is easily accessible to all visitors. The Ogle family built one of the first cabins in Gatlinburg in the early 1800s. The Ogle cabin still stands and is one of Gatlinburg’s main attractions.Gatlinburg, Tennessee was originally settled in the 1790s and 1800s by South Carolinians of English, Scotch, Irish and Scotch-Irish ancestry. The earliest settlers were the Ogles, Huskeys, McCarters, Reagans, and Whaleys, who named the township White Oaks for the many white oak trees in the valley. In the following decades, many other families such as the Trenthams, Clabos, Maples, Oakleys, Ownbys, Kings, Bohannons, and Cardwells joined the Ogles in populating White Oaks.Although originally named White Oaks, the town was later renamed to Gatlinburg – derived from a man named Radford Gatlin. Gatlin arrived in 1855 from North Carolina and opened the second store and post office in the small village. In appreciation of Gatlin’s service, and the popularity of his shop, the postmaster Richard Reagan renamed the office in his honor, and soon Gatlinburg became synonymous with the entire White Oaks surroundings.In retrospect, it may seem surprising that White Oaks was renamed after Radford Gatlin. Although he opened a popular post office and store in the town, Gatlin was also a highly controversial figure. According to local legend, Gatlin, a supporter of the Confederacy, became embroiled in a physical dispute with Union supporters who drove him out of town and forced him to abandon his property.Vacationers have been central to Gatlinburg’s identity for about 50 years. However, for its first 150 years, Gatlinburg was a self-contained, close-knit residential town. In the early 1900s, the local economy shifted from subsistence farming to timber. At this time, Gatlinburg’s first hotel was established to service lumber buyers traveling through the Smokey Mountains and the local economy slowly began to expand. Since its incorporation in 1945, Gatlinburg has transformed into a premier camping, tourist, and convention site.Thousands of visitors flock to Gatlinburg year-round to enjoy the unique and beautiful views of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, established in 1934. The wooded area in and around Gatlinburg provide ample opportunity camping, fishing, hiking, biking, picnicking and horse-back riding. In addition to the breathtaking natural environment, vacationers enjoy many shopping opportunities and fine dining experiences.

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