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  • Writer's pictureMandy-Gentry

Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains

Europeans settled in the Cades Cove area between 1818 and 1821, and today it is the largest variety of historic buildings left in the Smoky Mountains. Some of the remaining structures include three churches, several log homes and barns, and a working mill.

The road through the Cades Cove area is an 11 mile one-way loop with several opportunities to stop and tour historic buildings or hike more, as desired. It's a gorgeous drive, with a backdrop of mountain peaks and lush meadows of green. We loved touring through several of the homesteads and just enjoying the scenery.

The John Oliver Cabin

John and Lucretia Oliver were the first permanent settlers in Cades Cove. When they moved to the mountains in the 1820's, the only road into the cove was a primitive trail. The skill and quality at the Oliver Cabin were superior to any others we've seen in the mountains. We noticed particularly that the dovetail corners on this cabin looked really nice.

The Elijah Oliver Homestead

John and Lucretia's son, Elijah, also had a very impressive homestead complete with the largest hewn cabin we've seen in the Smokies, a chicken coop, smokehouse, corn crib, springhouse, and a huge barn. Raymond and the kids had the best time exploring the old barn.

The main cabin is in surprisingly good shape, and it includes a little room off the front door called "The Stranger's Room." The Olivers were known for being very hospitable and would give any travelers passing through a warm place to sleep and meal if needed. Like his parent's cabin, Elijah Oliver's home was also built with skill.

Raymond really loved the old wooden and hand forged metal hinges on the doors.

One of the neatest things at the Oliver homestead was the springhouse. Built on a teeny creek, water still flows through a series of hollow branches through the little cabin.

The Cades Cove Grist Mill

The grist mill that the Cades Cove community used was built in 1867 and is still working today. The mill was an important part of the mountain community - not only to grind corn and wheat, but also served as a gathering place for neighbors to socialize.

Explore Cades Cove

There are so many other amazing historical places to explore in Cades Cove, plus lots of offshoot trails to hike. You can do as little or as much exploring as you want here.

The kids got to see their first crawdad! We found this little guy in a mountain stream on one of our hikes.

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