Cades Cove’s Elijah Oliver Place was home to one of the first lifelong residents of the cove. Elijah Oliver grew up, married, and spent his life in the confines of Cades Cove’s majestic beauty. Today, people can come and view his home, take in its surroundings, and imagine themselves growing up in simpler times.
Not only does the Elijah Oliver cabin still stand in Cades Cove, so does the smokehouse, corn crib, springhouse and barn that made up Oliver’s homestead in those years. As the most remote of all the Cades Cove homesteads, it provided for more privacy for this branch of the Oliver family. The son of John and Luraney Oliver – Cades Cove’s first settlers, Elijah was born in the original Cades Cove cabin in 1824. It was there that he grew into a young man, moved away, married, then came back and bought the property where the home still stands today.
Elijah Oliver life, like other residents of Cades Cove at the time, centered around God and religion, family and the Oliver’s neighbors. It was common in those times to take in a complete stranger whenever they came through the Cove, feed, and house them for a period of time. So well known were the Cades Cove hospitality practices that fishermen would come in knowing that the settlers would provide them with lodging free of charge. Many residents, including Oliver, even built a special room onto their house for strangers passing through Cades Cove who needed a place to stay. Elijah Oliver’s “strangers room,” built on his front porch, is a popular aspect of his home site.
It wasn’t until 1900 that some of the Cades Cove residents began to charge guests for room and board. When you sit back and think about the area as it is today with all the cabins, condos, and hotels that are found here, Elijah Oliver and many of his neighbors were ahead of the times when it came to hospitality and tourism.