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.