Inside Miller’s Cove
Before the arrival of permanent European settlers to the area, Walland was part of a vast Cherokee hunting ground. Walland is situated in what became known as Miller’s Cove. This small valley is created by a ridge of Chilhowee Mountain and part of the Little Pigeon River watershed area. The fertile ground was home to elk and deer and bear and though those animals, with the exception of the elk, are still in these areas at the time the numbers made the area a food source for the indigenous people of the mountains.
By the 1780s the first permanent European settlers were arriving in the area. They followed the Cherokee trails into the mountains and found this small cove that would one day be called Walland. Seeing as the Great Indian Warpath passes through present day Maryville, the people that settled this area built forts to protect themselves and the communities they were trying to establish. Miller’s Cove takes its name from the Miller brothers that built cabin homes in this area around 1800. Though they were not the first settlers, it is their name that got donated to the valley.
In 1893, The Walton and England Leather Company sent one of its employees to the Miller’s Cove area to see if there was a suitable place to put a tannery. And though they also established a tanneryin the newport area, the Miller’s Cove tannery became a huge source of industry. A tannery was established in Miller’ Cove and a small company town grew up around the facility. In fact, the name Walland comes from the fusion of the name of the tannery – Walton and England. When the tannery burned in 1931, the industry in the area shifted to lumber, via the Little River Lumber Company. The railroad of the lumber company was attached to the railroad that the tannery had established and thus Knoxville and the outside world were connected to Walland and Elkmont, inside what would become the National Park.
When the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was founded, the area picked up the burgeoning tourism industry and the visitors to the area have been the major part of the economy ever since. When the Foothills Parkway was approved, one of the first section to be completed was the portion that connected Walland and Chilhowee Lake. Walland, though it is a narrow spot on the road between Maryville and Townsend, still has lots of historical value and cultural value to the area.
Next time you are headed to Cades Cove and you will be passing through Townsend, stop in Walland and look around. This was a site for some of the first major industries in the Smokies. You might be surprised at what you find in the Walland area.