History and Culture

The Mountain People of the Great Smokies

Before it was a park, the land of Great Smoky Mountains National Park was full of thriving mountain communities such as Cades Cove and Cataloochee. View these photo snapshots of the people who made their homes on the land and try to imagine what it was like here in the early 1900s.

The John
The John \”Gull\” Tipton family around 1930. John Tipton operated Cable Mill in Cades Cove for a time during the 1940s and 1950s. Photo by NPS Archives
Molly McCarter Ogle rocks her daughter Mattie on the porch. This photo has become one of the most famous images created of mountain people in the…
Molly McCarter Ogle rocks her daughter Mattie on the porch. This photo has become one of the most famous images created of mountain people in the Smokies. Photo taken in 1928. Photo by Laura Thornburgh courtesy of NPS Archives
Law enforcement officers stand beside a captured moonshine still. Photo by NPS Archives
Law enforcement officers stand beside a captured moonshine still. Photo by NPS Archives
John Walker was the father of 11 children, including the famous Walker Sisters. He was a skilled blacksmith, carpenter, miller, and farmer. Proud of…
John Walker was the father of 11 children, including the famous Walker Sisters. He was a skilled blacksmith, carpenter, miller, and farmer. Proud of his orchard, he posed for this photo with a basket of cherries that he grew. Photo by NPS Archives
Farmers using a mule powered mill to grind sorghum cane to make molasses. Photo by Laura Thornburgh courtesy of NPS Archives
Farmers using a mule powered mill to grind sorghum cane to make molasses. Photo by Laura Thornburgh courtesy of NPS Archives
Sophie Campbell made clay pipes which she sold to people in the Gatlinburg area. Photo by Alan Rhinehart courtesy of NPS Archives
Sophie Campbell made clay pipes which she sold to people in the Gatlinburg area. Photo by Alan Rhinehart courtesy of NPS Archives
Margurett Powell Rider (violin) and Harriett Powell Myers (banjo) play for family members outside the George W. Powell home in Chestnut Flats. Photo…
Margurett Powell Rider (violin) and Harriett Powell Myers (banjo) play for family members outside the George W. Powell home in Chestnut Flats. Photo taken around 1900. Photo by Robert L. Mason courtesy of NPS Archives