Great Smoky Mountains

A Brief Pigeon Forge History: From Cherokee Hunters to Dollywood

The Old MilUnderstanding Pigeon Forge history will explain to visitors that the roots of Pigeon Forge began with hunters and Cherokee people. Pigeon Forge has not always been a family vacation destination of the Smoky Mountains.

Pigeon Forge is located in Sevier County, Tennessee, near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The first settlers to arrive in the area were trappers, hunters, and traders who gained access by following the Indian Gap Trail. Colonel Samuel Wear, an American Revolution war veteran, was the first permanent settler in 1787. Due to conflicts with the Cherokee people as Europeans settled in the area, he built a fort for protection at the fork of Walden Stream and the Little Pigeon River. The Treaty of Tellico was signed in 1798, which helped alleviate some of the tensions between settlers and the Cherokee. Wears Valley is now a location in Sevier County, named after Colonel Samuel Wear.

Isaac Love plays an important role in Pigeon Forge history. He is the son of a war veteran that had built an iron forge in the area upon arriving to what is now Pigeon Forge. Isaac Love intended to create an industrial complex in the area. The iron forge and passenger pigeons that were abundant in the area gave the town its name, Pigeon Forge. Now, Pigeon Forge is home to approximately 5,800 people, but the town holds 50,000 or more visitors during any given season!

More recently, the primary commercial focus in Pigeon Forge has been attractions and outlet malls. Dolly Parton purchased an existing park, renaming it Dollywood. Dolly Parton’s attraction has caused the number of visitors to rise over the years. Her name alone is enough of a reason for people to come to the town.

The Great Smoky Mountains is a favorite attraction with waterfalls, streams, rivers, and great diversity of wildlife and flowers. People come to the beautiful mountains to hike, play in rivers, and enjoy the outdoor atmosphere of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg!

A part of Pigeon Forge history is The Old Mill. It is the oldest building in Pigeon Forge and is currently still standing. The Old Mill has turned into a complex that contains two restaurants, a candy kitchen, and gift shops.  The Old Mill holds a variety of events throughout the year that relate to the 18th century lifestyle, reminding visitors of Pigeon Forge history!

Come enjoy the Great Smoky Mountains and explore the history of Pigeon Forge while staying in one of our premier cabins! You can search our ‘Cabin Search’ page or contact us at 1-800-953-5655 to speak to a helpful reservationist!