3 Fun Facts About Gatlinburg History You Didn’t Know

An historic cabin in Gatlinburg TN.

The city of Gatlinburg, TN has a truly fascinating history, from its days as part of the wild frontier to its modern status as one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country. To help pique your interest for your next getaway in the Smokies, Stony Brook Cabins has put together three fun facts about Gatlinburg history that you probably didn’t know.

1. Gatlinburg Almost Wasn’t in Tennessee

From 1784 – 1788, the Great Smoky Mountain area was part of “Franklin”, a territory which almost became America’s 14th state! In the years following the Revolutionary War, Tennessee was not yet a state, but there many families living in the land west of North Carolina. The frontiersmen petitioned the federal government to create a new state in this area, and in hopes of swaying the influential founding father to their cause, they named the proposed state “Franklin” after Benjamin Franklin.

Although there was significant popular support for the idea, Congress voted to not admit Franklin into the Union. In response, the frontiersmen thumbed their nose at the federal government and decided to establish the state without official recognition. Revolutionary War veteran John Sevier became governor and started negotiating treaties with the Native Americans.

After four years of tension with North Carolina, the state of Franklin collapsed when John Sevier was arrested by agents from the Tar Heel state. Sevier would land on his feet, however, as he went on to become the governor of Tennessee and the namesake of Sevier County.

(See Also: Facts You Need to Know for Finding Wildlife in the Great Smoky Mountains)

2. The Man Gatlinburg Was Named After Was Run Out of TownThe city of Gatlinburg surrounded by the mountains.

Before Gatlinburg was known as Gatlinburg it was called White Oak Flats. Around 1806, the Ogle family became the first Euro-Americans to permanently settle in area. After the War of 1812, many veterans moved to White Oak Flats to begin a new life. Other prominent families in the early days of Gatlinburg history were the Reagans, Ownbys, and Bohanons.

Although the Ogles and other families were responsible for settling White Oak Flats, it is Radford Gatlin who would get the credit. Gatlin moved to town in 1854 and opened a general store a few years later. Because the post office was established in his shop, the whole town came to be known as “Gatlinburg”.

Despite his famous name, Gatlin was not a popular member of the community. He frequently feuded with the Ogles and his other neighbors. As pre-Civil War tensions flared, Gatlin became even more despised because he was a Confederate sympathizer in a largely pro-Union area. In 1859, Gatlin was run out of town, but the name “Gatlinburg” has remained.

3. Newfound Gap Road is the Reason the National Park is Free

Located minutes away from Gatlinburg, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the few parks in the U.S. that does not charge an entrance fee. Visitors to the national park can thank the state of Tennessee for the park’s free status.

A car driving down Newfound Gap Road near Gatlinburg.When Tennessee ceded its land to the federal government to establish the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1934, the state legislature included a clause stipulating that “no toll or license fee shall ever be imposed” on Newfound Gap Road. It was very important to the state government that the road be toll free, because they wanted to promote interstate travel between Tennessee and North Carolina. Over 80 years later, it still doesn’t cost any money to enjoy all of the beautiful trails and scenery in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

Did learning about all of this fascinating Gatlinburg history make you want to visit? Stony Brook Cabins has the perfect cabin rentals for your next vacation in the Smoky Mountains. Offering everything from 1 bedroom cabins to 6 bedroom cabins, we are sure to have the ideal property for your getaway. To start planning your next escape, browse our selection of Gatlinburg cabins!



Stony Brook Cabins and Chalets
1663 East Parkway Gatlinburg, TN 37738, USA
Reservations: 800-633-5652
Local: 865-436-7428
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