The Great Impact of the Great Smoky Mountains

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Every year, over nine million hikers and adventure seekers travel to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park making it the most visited national park in the United States. There are abundant reasons for this, but many popular reasons include over 150 hiking trails extending over 850 miles, a large portion of the Appalachian Trail, sightseeing, fishing, horseback riding, and bicycling. The park houses roughly ten thousand species of plants and animals with an estimated 90,000 undocumented species likely possible to be present. It is clear why there was a pressing interest in making all this land into a national park. My research was started by asking the question; how did the transformation of tourism due to the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park affect surrounding cities such as Gatlinburg and Sevier County, and in return, its effect on the popularity of the park?

Gatlinburg, Tennessee is located in Sevier County, situated on the northern edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The city has gotten the suitable nickname “Gateway to the Smokey Mountains” due to the fact that it sits at one of the two main entrances to the park serviced by one main road through the park. Today, Gatlinburg is seen as a scenic, romantic, getaway that is also bustling with tourism and even an amusement park; however, this was not always the case.

Gatlinburg did not start from scratch with what wee see today. From 1870 to 1900, the population of Sevier County grew from roughly 9,000 to 20,000 due to the Industrial Revolution and hit a plateau in 1910, staying for around fifty years (Population Growth Chart of East Tennessee Counties, 1820-1980). In 1960, the population of Sevier County started to skyrocket. In a mere twe...

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...vilian Conservation Corps. Web. 24 March 2010.

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“Population Growth Chart of East Tennessee Counties, 1820-1980”, Marian Moffett and Lawrence Wodehouse Collection of Cantilever Barn Research, MS-2059. University of Tennessee Libraries, Knoxville, Special Collections. 17 March 2010.

Proposed Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina-Tennessee. Map. S.l., 1926. Mapping the National Parks. Lib. of Congress. 15 March 2010.

“The story of early Gatlinburg: A talk by Rellie Dodgen at the Gatlinburg Rotary Club”, 1959 May 22, 1971 February 3 [Article 2], Carson Brewer Articles, MS-2048. University of Tennessee Libraries, Knoxville, Special Collections. 17 March 2010.

“Yearly Expansions.” Dollywood. Web. 27 March 2010.

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