The Smoky Mountain region is best known for Smoky Mountain National Park and its scenic outdoor activities. The Ripley’s Museums, Ober Gatlinburg, and the aerial Space Needle are also top of mind for visitors when picking family attractions in the Smokies. However, the Gatlinburg area offers so much more than that.
If you have the time to take a deeper dive, you’ll uncover a rich, fascinating history. When visiting the Smokies you’re quickly reminded that it was once an inhabited community as evidenced by cabin remains, settlement marks, and burial grounds sprinkled throughout the park’s boundaries. Additionally, the area was a key player during the Civil War, and you’ll find the area is ripe with historic sites from this era.
The stories of these long ago locals are simply fascinating, and the park boasts over 150 cemeteries that serve as a point of interest for many visitors. If you’re fascinated by this sort of thing then the cemeteries in Gatlinburg are definitely one of the things you should do in the Smokies. Here are a few of the more popular legends.
Interestingly enough, many of the cemeteries in Smoky Mountains National Park are small and remote. Still, they are considered one of the best family attractions in the Smokies. It was common for families to have small burial grounds close to their residence. Barnes cemetery is one such example. The site contains three small tombstones that indicate child mortalities. The tombs belong to the three adolescent daughters of John Barnes, a local figurehead. Historically, childhood mortality was quite common considering the lack of amenities. This particular grave site provides a quick taste of that aspect of the area’s history.
Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery--Cades Cove
Cades Cove is one of the most historic landmarks in the area and one of the best ways to get acclimated with Smoky Mountain history. Located in a large valley, its one of the area’s earliest settlements and is considered one of the best things to do in the Smokies, cemetery or not. Along the cove’s 11-mile loop you’ll find three churches, a working mill, and several large barns and log cabins. The Primitive Baptist Church landmark contains a fairly large cemetery that can be explored by foot. One of the most interesting stories in this cemetery is the tombstone of Russell Gregory. The heading reads “murdered by North Carolina rebels.” As the story goes, Gregory led an ambush of Confederate soldiers and was killed during the attack.
Other Frequently Visited Cemeteries
As we’ve already seen, there are over 150 cemeteries plotted throughout the park. While we’ve highlighted just a few of them, cemeteries like Proffitt and White Oak Flats are additional options when looking for things to do in the Smokies. Most popular for their wartime fatalities, these two are definitely worth the visit.
Need a Homebase for your Cemetery Hopping Adventure?
While family attractions in the Smokies aren’t hard to find, finding the perfect accommodation for your trip can be a challenge. Let our team at Diamond Mountain Rentals help you find the perfect homebase for your adventure. Whether you’re flying solo and need a one bedroom (like Black Bear Cove ) or need a larger space for the whole crew (check out Clearview or Hidden Springs) our team has you covered! Call today!