Gatlinburg Tennessee in October 1985
Gatlinburg Tennessee has a very important relationship with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While many nature purists may view this community that abuts the park as a traffic nuisance or a tourist trap, the city provides food and lodging for many park visitors every year.
As a result, Gatlinburg has grown along with the popularity of the park. Those who return to the town after an extended absence may be taken aback by the extent of the sprawling growth. And while some of the improvements may reflect the demands of a more upscale millennial consumer much of the downtown area still retains a lot of the simple charms of the days when a bed and a plate of pancakes satisfied the average tourist.
Gatlinburg has a long history that precedes the establishment of the national park. Originally known as White Oak Flats the town was later renamed to Gatlinburg. One of the few remaining testaments to the former name is the White Oak Flats Cemetery which lies just above the busy strip but rarely draws any special attention from the thousands that stroll just below it without a clue that it is there..
I first visited Gatlinburg in the early 1970’s. The place had a small town charm that was irresistible. But even then there were plenty of distractions for tourist. One of the most popular is the Gatlinburg Sky-lift that carries you up the mountain at a leisurely pace and rewards the rider with an an amazing view of the city. The photographs that accompany this article were taken in late October 1985.
Today you can enjoy everything fine fine dining to a smoked sausage served from a window on the sidewalk. You can sample moonshine and local wine. You can shop for all of the thinks that tourists buy when they are on vacation.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park needs the logistical support of towns like Gatlinburg in order to reduce the degradation of the park due to human influence. Gatlinburg plays an important role in preserving the natural beauty that abounds in the Great Smoky Mountains!