GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WKRN) – Cades Cove is a valley surrounded by mountains, but the area is defined by much more. “It’s a history. It’s a community. It’s a people. And it’s a story that we need to make sure lives on…” says Lisa Nagurny, Supervisory Park Ranger, Resource Education Department.

An 11 mile, one-way, loop road circles the cove. The pathway is often crowded, but that gives visitors a chance to slow down, and leisurely take in the scenery and history. You might as well take your time and explore the cove. “These are areas that were so important to the folks that lived here and these were homes,” Nagurny continued, “This is where they grew up, where they raised their families and where they helped out their neighbors.”

The Loop around Cades Cove

From cabins and churches to a scenic waterfall and working grist mill, there’s plenty to see on the loop around Cades Cove. Being able to stop and take a moment where folks would have spent their time, can really help you to connect with them, and hopefully understand what it was like in the Cove.

John Oliver’s Cabin

Cades Cove: John Oliver’s Cabin

The first historical site on the Cades Cove loop is a testament to the architecture of the past, John Oliver’s cabin is held together by notches in the wood frame and its own weight, requiring no nails or pegs to stay in place. Built to last, it’s one of the oldest structures in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Oliver’s family lived in the cabin for over a century.

Primitive Baptist Church

Cades Cove: Primitive Baptist

The Primitive Baptist Church is one of three churches on the loop of Cades Cove. The place of worship is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Methodist Church

Cades Cove: Methodist Church

Built-in 1820, the church was constructed by a carpenter, and eventual minister, J.D. McCampbell.

Cemeteries of the Smokies

Cemetery in the Great Smoky Mountains

Every headstone in the Smokies faces the same direction. “If you get lost in the Smokies, find a cemetery, all the headstones are facing east,” says Brad Free, GSMNP Park Historian.

It was at one time customary for people to be buried facing the east, as part of the traditional Christian belief that the second coming of Jesus would be from the east, as reflected in this verse from Matthew 24:27, “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”

Abrams Waterfall

Cades Cove: Abrams Waterfall

It’s an arduous hike to Abrams Falls, named for a Cherokee chief whose village once stood a few miles downstream from this natural wonder. While only 20 feet high, massive amounts of water go over the edge of the waterfall.

Cable Mill

Cades Cove: Cable Mill

Cable Mill is the only working grist mill in the Smoky Mountains.

Dan Lawson’s Place

Cades Cove: Dan Lawson’s Place

Dan Lawson’s Place features sawn lumber and hewn logs. In addition, the pioneer cabin features a modern chimney made from bricks. It has a corn crib and a smokehouse. It even once functioned as a post office for Cades Cove.

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Janet Ivey is a special correspondent for News 2 on this report. Learn more about her here.