Dozens of travelers leave I-40 at Exit 196 everyday, some to visit friends and family, others for fuel, refreshment or lodging. They all have a story to tell and we are here to share a tale or two that we heard at Exit 196.
Throughout the past week a procession of Gatlinburg bound travelers, stopped at EXIT 196.
In 1807, Martha Jane Huskey Ogle arrived in East Tennessee with her children and several other family members. Honoring the wishes of her deceased husband she settled in a remote locale in what is now known as the Great Somky Mountains. First named White Oak Flats for the abundant native white oak trees covering the landscape the remote locale is now one of Tennessee’s most popular tourist destinations, Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Nestled in the valley of the Little Pigeon River’s West Fork and surrounded on three sides by the majestic Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg has evolved from a rural hamlet to a thriving community.
As a self sustaining community Gatlinburg changed little during its first one hundred years. When the Civil War erupted, some locals joined the Union, others the Confederacy but for the most part the mountain people tried to remain neutral. Although only one Civil War skirmish was fought in Gatlinburg, countless raids were made by both sides to gather vital resources needed to sustain the war effort. As with much of the South, deprivation and hardship persisted long after the war.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established by congress in 1934 and was dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1940. The formation of the park, boosted the area’s tourism industry and many displaced mountain families moved into town, either developing new enterprises or taking jobs in the region’s new hotels, restaurants and service facilities that were established to meet the needs of the burgeoning tourist industry. Economic progress slowed considerably during World War II, but, by the war’s end, tourists happily returned to the area and the sleepy little village of Gatlinburg expanded to meet their needs and demands.
Incorporated in 1945, Gatlinburg has since developed into a popular year round destination for tourists from across the nation and around the globe.
After enviously observing a week long parade of travelers making their way to east Gatlinburg everyone at EXIT 196 decided that now must be a good time to visit the mountatins and we all started making travel plans.