The History of Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Are you planning a trip to Gatlinburg soon? This beautiful Smoky Mountains city has a rich history that makes it a perfect place to visit on vacation. Here is the history of Gatlinburg, Tennessee:

The Settlement of Gatlinburg

gatlinburg signNestled in the valley of the Little Pigeon River’s West Fork and surrounded on three sides by the majestic Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg has evolved from a rural hamlet to a thriving gateway community. Settled in the early 1800s, it was first named White Oak Flats for the abundant native white oak trees covering the landscape. It is believed a middle-aged widow, Martha Jane Huskey Ogle, was the first official settler here. She came with her family to start a new life in what her late-husband described as a “Land of Paradise” in East Tennessee.

In 1854, Radford C. Gatlin arrived in White Oak Flats and opened the village’s second general store. Controversy soon surrounded him and was eventually banished from the community. However, the city still bears his name.

As a self-sustaining community, Gatlinburg changed little in the first one hundred years. When the Civil War erupted, some locals joined the Union, others the Confederacy. But, in general, the mountain people tried to remain neutral. Although only one Civil War skirmish was fought in Gatlinburg, countless raids were made by both sides to gather vital resources needed to sustain the war effort. As with much of the South, deprivation and hardship persisted long after the war.

The Radford Gatlin Story

Originally called White Oak Flats, there are many stories as to how Gatlinburg got its name, all involving a controversial figure who settled here in 1854. Radford C. Gatlin was flamboyant and, as a preacher, established his own “Gatlinite” Baptist Church. He was a democrat in a republican community, which was frowned upon. After continuing to go against the status quo in the newly established Gatlinburg, Tennessee, he was eventually told to leave.

Great Smoky Mountains History

park signWith the formation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, tourism boosted the area’s economy. Many of the displaced mountain families moved into town, either developing new enterprises or taking jobs in new hotels, restaurants and service facilities to meet the needs of the burgeoning tourist industry. Progress slowed considerably during World War II. But, by war’s end, tourists returned with a vengeance and the sleepy little village of Gatlinburg expanded to meet the demands. Incorporated in 1945, it has since developed into a four-season resort and convention Mecca.

Where to Stay

When you take a trip to Gatlinburg, check out our cabin rentals for the best Smoky Mountain lodging experience! Our rentals offer awesome amenities like fully equipped kitchens, hot tubs, theater rooms and game rooms! Some even feature indoor private pools that provide even more seclusion! Check out our current cabin specials so you can save money on your next stay.

Now that you know the history of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, you can better appreciate the beautiful area on your next Smokies vacation. Check out our Gatlinburg cabins so you can stay right in the center or all the modern Gatlinburg activities.