Cades Cove – A Brief History

Cades Cove was a pretty hard place to reach for early settlers. To put it simply, you had to really want to get there to actually get there. Indian trails proved to be the main route most took to reach the Cades Cove area. SInce then, roads have taken the place of most of the major trails. Cades Cove road was one of these trails, which is better known these days as Rich Mountain Road. It’s still one of the main routes out of Cades Cove today and one of the most scenic. Hint, hint, fall color enthusiasts and photographers.

If you’re not planning on viewing Cades Cove by way of the Cades Cove Loop Road, may we suggest traveling up Rich Mountain Road to view the cove. One fact if you choose to take Rich Mountain Road, you’ll exit Cades Cove before completing the loop if you take the route. Rich Mountain Road is a one way dirt road which exits Cades Cove and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park after 12 mountainous, but very scenic miles.

Reaching Cades Cove by roads coming from the west or by way of towns like Maryville, TN could be especially challenging to travel for the residents of Cades Cove and their horses. Getting to town took at least 3 days in those days. One to travel to town. One to buy or sell goods, or perhaps visit family and friends and one to travel back to the cove.

Though Cades Cove was generally a self sustaining community, pioneers bought things from Maryville such as medicine and remedies such as Camphorated oil, catnip tea, Castor oil, Epsom salts. As time went by, general stores such as the Giles Gregory store, sprang up in Cades Cove where medicine, seeds, sugar, kerosene, yard goods and hardware supplies. Products could be purchased with money or by trading products such as eggs. Still, the larger town of Maryville had a more appealing selection and so the trips from the Cades Cove continued. If on a trip to Maryville, the family was selling rather than buying, chances are they were selling chestnuts which grew in abundance in Cades Cove. Unfortunately disease eventually killed the majestic chestnut groves.

Sam Houston Schoolhouse

Sam Houston may be one of the most celebrated former citizens of Blount County.  While he lived in the area it is no doubt that he roamed the mountains and countrysides, down into the Walland and Townsend area and of course throughout Maryville.

Sam Houston lived with the Cherokee Indians at age 16 for a number of years and learned to live off the land.  He was taught all manner of outdoor craft by these natives of the mountains.  Before that point he had gotten his ‘book learning’ at a school.  When turned 18 he took the position as school master at a one room schoolhouse in the area that would eventually become known as Maryville.  He taught these students the knowledge they would need out of books but also taught them about the Indians that had become part of his family and how they could live in unity with them.  He taught everyone that wanted to learn, from the age of 6 to the age of 60, they people came to learn.  The tuition to be taught at the one room log cabin style house was $8 a year and though that was a lot for the people that lived back then, people payed it gladly.

The schoolhouse was built of hewn poplar logs.  It was a typical one room schoolhouse of he day.  A fireplace would supply heat tot he students when it was close to harvest and the mornings were cold and the door would stay open through the summer so that they could get a breeze when the heat got bad.  Houston founded the school in 1812.  This was the first school in what would become the state of Tennessee. The school served students form the edge of Knox county and Blount county.  The time spent teaching the students of the East Tennessee area would shape Houstons life in later years.

“(with) the sense of authority over my pupils, I experienced a higher feeling of dignity and self satisfaction than from any office or honor which I have held since.

Now, you can visit this historic site and take a step back into the past.  Some of the original logs are still there and on a quite day you can hear the babbling brook nearby that would have given the students drinking water.  You can walk in and sit down at the desks and imagine what it would have been like to sit under the watchful eye of a future statesman like Sam Houston.  You can read about the man that built the schoolhouse  and how he ended up in Texas.  Take your family on a day trip into the Smokies and let them experience true history at a place that shaped the people that shaped the founding of America.


Davy Crockett Riding Stables in Townsend, TN

So you want to get out to parts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that you can’t see leaning out of the window of your car? Well, Townsend, Tn has the answer for you – Davy Crockett Riding Stables. Get off the road into the backcountry and take a relaxing horseback ride in Cades Cove and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Davy Crockett Riding Stables in Townsend has immediate access to backcountry horseback riding trails in the Smokies. What better way to get more in touch with nature and spend some quality family time than to experience it like the mountaineers who first traversed the Smokies did – on horseback. Davy Crockett employs some of the best Smoky Mountain horseback guides in the area, each with a vast understanding of the area and the animal alike. Each equestrian professional is a trained guide with the hours of experience necessary to lead groups on horseback throughout the park.

Once you’ve explored the Smokies on horseback, you’ll want to come back again and again just to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Good luck with that as the national park is as expansive as it is majestic. It’s not just a 30 minute in and out trip either, guests have a choice of five different trips to choose from, each with varying rates:

  • A $22 per hour ride
  • A $15 per half hour ride
  • A $33 per hour and a half ride
  • $44 for two hours
  • And a half day trip for $90

In season, guests can come ride on the spot, but reservations are required during the off season. For Davy Crockett Riding Stables, peak season runs from March 15 to November 15. Davy Crockett is open 7 days a week from 9 am to 5 pm. For more information, call 865-448-6411.

Davy Crockett Riding Stables
505 Old Cades Cove Road
Townsend, TN