Historic Structures in Cataloochee
Cataloochee is one of those places in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that takes a little extra effort to get there, but once you do for the first time it is a place that you will return to again and again.
Like Cades Cove in Tennessee, Cataloochee in North Carolina offers wildlife viewing opportunities combine with the relics of recent anthropology of human settlers in the area. Although many structures were razed at the time the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established, some were preserved as a testament to the people that once called this valley home.
Unlike Cades Cove in Tennessee, you will rarely encounter large crowds of visitors in Cataloochee. Even in Autumn it’s easy to move around the valley. Many visitors come to see the elk of Cataloochee, but when the elk have removed themselves behind the curtain of the forest the allure of the carefully preserved history cannot be ignored!
There are five houses, two churches, a school and several ancillary structures to explore in Cataloochee and Little Cataloochee. Some are visible from the road and easily reached. These include the Palmer House, The Caldwell House, The Palmer Chapel and the Beech Grove School. An easy one mile hike up a gentle grade will take you to the Woody House. To get to the Hannah Cabin, the Cook Cabin and the Little Cataloochee Baptist Church will take a longer hike and a bit more planning.
Little Cataloochee is one of my favorite short hikes! I like to start at the trailhead on Cosby Road with is about six miles from the Palmer House. There is very limited parking here but the Hannah Cabin is about a mile a way, and another mile adds the Little Cataloochee Baptist Church and one more mile brings you to the Cook Cabin. Very quiet and a wonderful walk on a broad roadbed. I have encountered bears along this trail so always be alert.
If you aren’t much of a hiker then at the very least you should visit the Woody House. It’s at the end of the Cataloochee Road and there is ample parking. The one mile hike is gentle and follows a stream for most of the way. It’s hard to imagine that at one time this was mostly open fields!
But this was once a place where people lived and worked. There was a post office, businesses, shops, and all of the trappings of an early 20th Century farming community. In a way, the establishment of the Park created an idyllic setting for the remaining historic structures that blend into the natural beauty of the valley without the distractions of industry.
If you have specific questions about Cataloochee and the historic structures of Cataloochee feel free to use the “Ask a Question” feature of this site! I will be glad to answer what I can and will encourage other readers of this post to do the same!