• The area including the modern city of Gatlinburg was originally used primarily as hunting grounds by the CherokeeCherokee Indians, though it was sparsely populated by various indian peoples. Founded as "White Oak Flats" (due to the large number of White Oakwhite oak trees in the area), the first white settlers in the vicinity of today's community arrived at the turn of the 19th century, largely American Revolutionary WarRevolutionary War veterans given 50-acre tracts of land in turn for their service in the war. It is commonly accepted that the widowed Martha Jane Huskey Ogle was the first official white settler, bringing her seven children over from South Carolina to live in an area her late husband had described to her as a paradise. Most of the original homesteads arose along LeConte Creek (then known as Mill Creek), Baskins Creek, and Roaring Fork Creek, including the Ogles', whose homestead still stands today. The community's name was officially changed to Gatlinburg in 1855 by the local postmaster in honor of Radford. C. Gatlin, for allowing the post office to be located in his prosperous store. Though the town still bears his namesake, Gatlin was quite unpopular in the town and eventually forced to leave the area after only a few short years of residence For the first one-hundred years of its settlement, the town maintained a traditional mountain subsistence farming economy, until the beginning of the 20th century, when logging became a prosperous industry in the region. Concerns over this growing industry, combined with a great appreciation for the natural environment of the area, led to local, and eventually federal, government procuring nearby land to create a new national park in the Eastern United Stateseast. The creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1934 marked the beginning of the now omnipresent tourism industry in Gatlinburg, which today dominates the local economy On the night of July 14, 1992, Gatlinburg earned national attention when an entire city block burned to the ground, due to faulty wiring in a light fixture. The "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" museum was consumed by the fire, along with an arcade, haunted house, and souvenir shop. The blaze was fortunately stopped before it could consume the adjacent 32-story Space Needle, which would have been disastrous. The block, known to locals as "Rebel Corner", was completely rebuilt and reopened to visitors in 1995. Few artifacts from the Ripley's Museum were salvaged. Those that were salvaged are clearly marked with that designation in the new museum. The fire prompted new downtown building codes and a new downtown fire station. Believe it or not, Ripley's has caught fire twice since its reopening, once in 2000, and again in 2003. Both of those fires, co-incidentally, were caused by faulty light fixtures. The 2000 fire caused no damage. The 2003 fire was contained to the building's exterior and the museum suffered minimal damage, primarily cosmetic. Source:

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