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Title: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee - Handbook 112
Author: United States. National Park Service
Language: English
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    Cover photo: _Sunrise from Mt. LeConte, Great Smoky Mountains
    National Park._

                              Handbook 112

                         Great Smoky Mountains

                  Great Smoky Mountains National Park
                      North Carolina and Tennessee

                        Division of Publications
                         National Park Service

                    U.S. Department of the Interior
                         Washington, D.C. 1981

                   The National Park Handbook Series

National Park Handbooks, compact introductions to the great natural and
historic places administered by the National Park Service, are designed
to promote understanding and enjoyment of the parks. Each is intended to
be informative reading and a useful guide before, during, and after a
park visit. More than 100 titles are in print. This is Handbook 112. You
may purchase the handbooks through the mail by writing to Superintendent
of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.

                            About This Book

Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the North
Carolina-Tennessee border and encompasses the climax of the Appalachian
Mountain System. Major attractions are the mountains themselves, the
preserved structures and lore of mountain folklife, stupendous displays
of flowering plants and shrubs, fall colors, wild animals, superb hiking
opportunities, and gorgeous rivers, streams, and waterfalls. This
handbook is published in support of the National Park Service’s
management policies and interpretive programs at the park. Part 1 gives
a brief introduction to what you may find in a leisurely visit to the
park; Part 2 outlines the natural history of the mountains and their
valleys; and Part 3 presents concise travel guide and reference

           Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

  United States. National Park Service.
  Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee.
  (National park handbook; 112)
  Includes index.
  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (N.C. and Tenn.)
    I. Title.
    II. Series: Handbook (United States. National Park Service. Division
          of Publications); 112.
  F443.G7U63 1981    976.8’89    81-11320    AACR2


  Part 1 Welcome to the Great Smokies                                   4
      The Appalachians at Their Best                                    7
  Part 2 The Nature of Things in the Highlands                         22
      _By Napier Shelton_
      A One-day Walk to Maine                                          25
      The Trout’s World                                                39
      The Evolution of Abundance                                       53
      Bears, Boars and Acorns                                          67
      The Tracks of Our Predecessors                                   79
  Part 3 Guide and Adviser                                             98
      Topical Reference                                               101
      Going to the Great Smokies                                      101
      Park Map                                                        102
      Visitor Centers                                                 104
      The Smokies by Car                                              107
      Wildflowers and Fall Colors                                     110
      Activities                                                      112
      Hiking and Backpacking                                          114
      Accommodations                                                  118
      For Your Safety                                                 120
      Nearby Attractions                                              122
      Books to Read                                                   125
      Index                                                           126

                   1    Welcome to the Great Smokies

    [Illustration: _A rustic Cades Cove cabin preserves the spirit of
    pioneer life and times._]

    [Illustration: _Here in the East’s wettest corner, winter snows
    release moisture slowly into the ground until spring thaw swells
    streams to rush downslope. The ultimate destination? The Gulf of

                     The Appalachians at Their Best

At first glimpse there appear to be two Smokies: the mountains’ wild
nature, and the folk life. The mind calls up both the sweeping mountain
vistas whose peaks succeed peaks to the far horizon and the rustic
cabins and barns set off with the split rail fences of 19th-century
mountain life. The mountains are everywhere, punctuated by restored
settlements, by Cades Cove, Mingus Mill, Cataloochee, and Little
Greenbrier. But this is not the full story for there are many, many
Great Smokies, a double fistful of which may be just for you. There are
as many Great Smokies as there are people who come here intent on
discovering their secrets: the folklorist’s and amateur historian’s
Smokies; the trout angler’s Smokies; the Smokies of the backpacker,
day-tripper, and trail walker; the botanist’s, ecologist’s, and birder’s
Smokies; and the automobile tourist’s Smokies. Take your pick.

You can walk into the Smokies, into the heart of the wilderness. You can
drive through the Smokies, through the jewels in the crown of the
Appalachian highlands. You can enter them through North Carolina or
through Tennessee. But you can also enter them through any strong
interest _you_ may have, for there are as many Smokies as there are ways
you can see them. And one good way to see them is through the eyes of a
native son whose love for these mountains is exceeded only by his love
for people. Such is Glenn Cardwell.

Glenn Cardwell took his aging mother and father down to the Noah “Bud”
Ogle cabin just after the National Park Service finished restoring it.
Glenn works for the park and would conduct nature walks at the cabin, so
he wanted to see what his folks would say. They used to live nearby and
his mother’s Aunt Cindy and her husband, Noah, built the cabin just off
Cherokee Orchard Road out of Gatlinburg.

“Well I’ll tell you,” Glenn said, “my mother got to reminiscing not one
step off the parking lot and stopped at every rock and spot in the yard
and told a tale. It must’ve taken the better part of an hour just to get
her through the yard and down to the porch.”

Glenn’s mother took one look at the porch and said, “They put the step
[a big flat rock] in the wrong place.” And so the restoration team had
... but it was another rock that bothered Mrs. Cardwell most.

Walking back to the car she stopped dead in her tracks and said
despairingly, “What have they _done_ to Cindy’s rock?”

Glenn had no idea what she meant although he could see the road cut
close to a big boulder. The road had been relocated but Glenn recalled
nothing unusual about the rock.

His mother, still staring, repeated her question. Glenn’s father
shrugged, “Looks to me like somebody blowed hell out of it.”

“I still couldn’t figure out what was bothering my mother,” Glenn said.

But now, in the 1980s, he will tell you that everyone in the Smokies had
scaffolds in their yards back in Aunt Cindy’s day for drying fruits and
vegetables for winter storage. Everyone, that is, but Aunt Cindy. She
used the big boulder across from their cabin, or what used to be the
flat part of it. Many’s the time Glenn’s mother, as a little girl,
helped Aunt Cindy spread produce to sun dry on the rock.

Glenn Cardwell is an affable walking encyclopedia of Smokies life at the
time the Smokies changed from a piece of Tennessee and North Carolina
real estate into our second national park in the East. Stories such as
Glenn’s—and there are many—supply a compelling human resonance to this
wilderness land. Glenn’s enthusiasm is a bit unusual, because his father
was bought out _twice_ by the Federal government as lands were being
acquired for the park. And each buy-out meant an unplanned relocation
for the family, moving and building anew.

“I think if my mother hadn’t had me on the way at the time of the first
buy-out,” Glenn said, “my father would have pulled up stakes and gone
back to Cumberland, Virginia, like many, many of our other relatives
did.” But the Cardwells stayed on near the park and Glenn embodies a
transition, bridging new and old ways of doing and seeing things here.
His father was bitter at first, but when he visited the Noah “Bud” Ogle
Cabin years later he admitted he was glad the park had come along so
that some things remained unchanged. It was nice, he said, that he and
others could still see the land as it had been.

The Great Smokies represented a new direction in national park policy in
the 1920s. The eighteen national parks then in existence in the West had
been created from lands already owned by the Federal government. The
Smokies lands authorized for park purchase beginning in 1926 were all in
private ownership in more than 6,600 tracts. The lion’s share was owned
by eighteen timber and pulpwood companies, but 1,200 other tracts were
farms. Worse, there were also more than 5,000 lots and summer homes.
Many of these had been won in promotion schemes and their owners had
never bothered to pay taxes on them. This created an awesome land
acquisition headache.

The Federal government would not purchase land for national parks in
those days, so in 1927 the Tennessee and North Carolina legislatures
each provided for appropriation of $2 million to purchase the land.
Already, $1 million had been pledged. The legislation also created State
Park Commissions in each state to handle the buying. The John D.
Rockefeller family supplemented the fund drive with a $5 million
donation. This was considered one of the biggest and most important
accomplishments of the entire national park movement. The two states
eventually purchased the needed lands and donated them to the Federal

Ten years of dogged, full-scale activity and several more years of tying
up loose ends were required to get the acquisition job done. Despite
this tremendous impact of human land use in the Smokies, however, about
forty percent of the park’s 209,000 hectares (517,000 acres) constitutes
the East’s most extensive virgin forest. Forest recovery is now well
underway throughout the park despite the former blight left by logging
and subsequent forest fires, and landslides, and other forms of erosion.

At one time no sharp edge separated two aspects of nature in the Great
Smokies: man and the wilderness. Cherokee Indians lived here in ways
ironically similar to those of the whites who would soon displace them.
They cultivated crops, hunted, believed in one god, practiced a
democratic form of government, and lived not in teepees but in
mud-and-log structures. “The place of blue smoke,” _Shaconage_, they
called this mountain hunting ground. And here amidst the haze lived also
the spirit of their people; it, too, could not be divorced from the land
itself. Treaty after treaty saw the Cherokees lose more and more
homeland, up to and finally including the Smokies. In one of the great
human tragedies that blots American history they were forcibly removed
westward, “relocated” to Oklahoma via the “Trail of Tears.” One fourth
of the people died along the way. A few Cherokees had resisted removal,
staying behind in small groups and hiding out in the mountains. Troops
could not relocate them because they couldn’t _locate_ them. Later the
Cherokees were allowed to return and reclaim the borders of their old
homeland. They live there today on the Cherokee Reservation.

    [Illustration: _A contented cow lends realism to the reconstructed
    Pioneer Farmstead, next to Oconaluftee Visitor Center._]

    [Illustration: _Mt. LeConte is the park’s third highest peak,
    following Mt. Guyot and Clingmans Dome, the highest. Smokies rocks
    are among the continent’s oldest sediments. The ranges have survived
    200 million years of erosion. By contrast, the Sierra Nevada is
    thought to be only 1 million years old._]

    [Illustration: _First things first! A rain-geared backpacker makes
    sure her feet are protected against blisters. The park offers more
    than 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) of trails, including 110
    kilometers (70 miles) of the Appalachian Trail that stretches from
    Maine to Georgia._]

It is difficult now to appreciate the pressure once exerted on the
Appalachian highlands by human settlement. Back when land meant
livelihood to a nation of agrarian people, the gradual pressure from the
eastern coast, across the Piedmont, reached the Appalachian chain. The
shortage of arable lands forced people into and finally onto the
mountains in search of a plot of ground that would produce a livelihood.
And so settlement came to the Great Smokies, gradually working its way
up the mountainsides to the limits of cultivation. Grazing was
eventually pushed beyond those limits all the way up the mountain to the
balds. Combined overgrazing, overfishing, destructive logging practices,
and overhunting would soon turn dense wilderness into a ravaged
landscape. The National Park was authorized in 1926, established for
protection in 1930, and established for development in 1934. And now,
about 50 years later, wilderness is again in ascendancy, as field
naturalist Napier Shelton amply testifies as he takes you exploring in
Part Two of this handbook.

The wilderness richness here is both astounding and close at hand.
Richness? There are more species of salamanders here—22—than in any
other part of the world. In the lush density of the Smokies forests
there are more tree species than in all of Northern Europe. It is
thought that this sheer density of forest cover and its attendant
transpiration help account for the “misty” character for which the Great
Smoky Mountains are named.

This forest richness continues to unfold for present-day biologists, as
the recent discovery of the paper birch in the Smokies attests. It had
long been held that this northern species did not occur in Tennessee.
Its range generally swings southward into New Jersey and then simply
jumps along the Appalachians, appearing here and there as elevation and
other conditions simulate northerly climes.

Peter White, plant ecologist with the National Park Service’s Uplands
Biological Field Research Laboratory in the Smokies, discovered several
of the trees one day when he went out to verify a paper birch sighted by
three North Carolina graduate students two years before. “It was located
on a manway or unmaintained trail,” White said, “right on the trail, one
of the steepest in the park. So if you knew what you were looking for
there was no missing it. Actually what we have here in the Smokies is
called the mountain paper birch, which may or may not be a different
species than the classic white birch which would be called the true or
typical paper birch.”

White is fascinated with unusual plant occurrences. A major passion of
his here in the Smokies is to track down the mystery of the circumpolar
twinflower, _Linnaea_, collected from “the mountains of Sevier County in
Tennessee” by amateur botanist Albert Ruth in 1891. This is the only
report of the plant south of certain bogs in West Virginia, and White
hopes to verify it.

“Ruth misidentified this _Linnaea_ as partridgeberry and it wasn’t known
about until 1934, when it came to the University of Tennessee with the
Ruth Collection from Texas,” White said. “Jack Sharp at the university
recognized its true identity and its significance.”

The Ruth Collection came to Tennessee because the university’s plant
herbarium was destroyed by fire in the 1920s and the university sought
to build it up again. The twinflower was discovered by the great
botanist Carl Linnaeus in Finland and named for him by a friend. It
occurs from Eurasia to North America as a northern species, hence the
“circumpolar” description.

“There are pluses and minuses to believing the plant came from here,”
White explained. “Ruth was a careful field botanist with a good eye, and
many plants are named for him. He collected many species for the first
time. But we also know from his collections that some of his labels are

White’s quest for the elusive twinflower growing far south of its normal
range symbolizes an aspect of the Smokies. The park has been designated
an International Biosphere Reserve. As one writer put it: All the world
of ecology comes to the Great Smokies ... Scientists and students come
to observe the richness and density of life forms; the misplaced
species; the dramatic impacts of catastrophic landslides and fire scars;
and the unknowns, those tantalizing areas of knowledge still withholding
their secrets despite careful scrutiny. What really happened here during
the glacial periods? Where were the trees then? How much forest burning
did Cherokees use for game and vegetation management purposes before
Europeans came? Speculations aside, what is the true story behind grassy
balds? What are the seasonal migration patterns of the juncos that stay
in the park year-round? These remain questions stirring the expert and
amateur alike to earnest inquiry.

    [Illustration: _Abundant cascades and inviting waterfalls greet you
    in the Smokies. Their sprays often water luxuriant mosses and make
    ideal habitat for the Smokies’ surprising number of salamanders and
    aquatic insects._]

    [Illustration: _Don’t let the glorious mountain vistas distract you
    from the beauty at your feet. The park boasts more than 2,000
    species of mushrooms. They are conspicuous because abundant moisture
    may encourage them to fruit several times a year._]

Perhaps you may come to make one of these questions your own. Nature, it
turns out, is an unfolding process. It is a continuous coping, albeit
gradual, with change, so that our knowledge always remains limited and
there is ever much more to learn. If you have questions, do feel free to
ask them. Ask them of a ranger, a naturalist, or the people behind the
counters at the visitor centers. But the more closely you observe the
nature of things here in the Smokies, the more likely your questions
will be to draw a blank. Don’t be disappointed by this. Be encouraged:
your question without an answer, should you pursue it, might hold the
key to understanding some facet of the natural world tomorrow. But you
will have to look at the Smokies, really look with honest and inquiring
eyes, to stump the likes of Glenn Cardwell and Peter White or any number
of other people you might meet here in the park.

All questions aside, however, one thing is certain: millions have come
here in pursuit of recreation and gone away fully satisfied, to return
again and again. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a great place to
_do_ things, things we describe in Part Three of this handbook, your
“Guide and Adviser.” May _you_ return again and again.

               2    The Nature of Things In the Highlands

    [Illustration: _Common wood sorrel blooms in forest shade in spring
    and summer, depending an elevation. One flowering shrub, the witch
    hazel, blooms in fall and early winter._]

    [Illustration: _For sheer numbers and diversity of trees and
    flowering plants, the park is a botanical showplace. Its varied
    elevations telescope together nearly all forest types found from
    Maine to Georgia. Hiker and motorist alike may see wildflowers from
    March through October._]

                        A One-day Walk to Maine

Every spring a number of enterprising people set out to walk more than
3,000 kilometers (2,000 miles) on the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to
Maine. Those who finish typically arrive some four months later. You can
experience nearly the same thing—in terms of the natural history and
particularly forest cover—in a single day by hiking from the lowlands to
the crest of the Smokies. Because of the climatic change accompanying
this gain in altitude, as much as 1,500 meters (5,000 feet), such a walk
can take you, as it were, through the oak and pine forests of northern
Georgia, the oak-hickory forests of central Virginia, the northern
hardwoods of Massachusetts, and into the spruce-fir forests of Maine and
Canada. And along the way you get many glimpses of the natural processes
that shape and control the national park’s marvelous assemblage of life.

If you’re not quite ready for such a long, hard climb, why not join me
for an armchair ascent of the mountains?

It’s early on a summer morning and the sky is clear, but knowing the
frequency of rain in the Smokies, we tuck ponchos into our packs. As our
boots crunch pleasantly on the gravel of an old mountain road, we listen
to the neighboring stream and look at the forested hollow it drains.
Just a few decades ago farm children played in the stream, and
cornfields bordered the road. Now we can enjoy the stream in the shade
of yellow-poplar trees that now stand thick and straight where the grain
once did.

Around a bend the stream gradient steepens and so does the road. We are
still in young forest; here it grows where cattle formerly grazed or
lumbermen felled its giant ancestors. For some time we labor upwards,
the road becoming a trail and a few big trees appearing along the
tumbling creek. Then, rather suddenly, there is a striking difference in
the environment. We have crossed the line into primeval forest, into
territory where the axman has not been and most of the trees are big.
This is Great Smokies virgin cove forest, a type unrivaled in the
northern hemisphere for combined variety and size of trees. Here it is
cool, shady, and moist. The tree trunks shoot high above into the
canopy, which intercepts most of the sunlight and seems to enclose us in
a private world. The ground around us is covered with the greenery of
small plants. We hear bird songs but cannot see the singers.

The peace and grandeur of the forest are interrupted by a slight
movement off to our right. In the leaves beneath a large, rotting log a
tiny shrew restlessly sniffs with its long nose. It moves in short
thrusts through the dead leaves, searching with a fierce intensity for
worms, crickets, or any animal small enough to overcome. Impelled by
hunger, this normally nocturnal animal has been emboldened by the
shadiness to venture into the cove forest’s subdued daylight. The shrew
is just one infinitesimal part of the great forest, in which thousands
of living things seek the energy and nutrients needed for survival. The
shrew hunts, as it were, a fragment of the sun’s energy, transmitted
through plants and then through the small plant-eating creatures that it
preys upon.

Crossing a log bridge below a waterfall, we see fish darting under
boulders. Spray from the falls drifts over us and onto the dark thickets
of rhododendron crowding the stream banks. We try to keep the cool water
in our minds as we start up the long switchbacks ascending the valley’s
south-facing slope. Trees of the cove forest, buckeye, hemlock, sugar
maple, and their many associates, gradually become scarcer, and oaks and
hickories become the dominant trees. Halfway up the slope we have
climbed from coolness into warmth. Here in the more open oak forest, the
sun beams down through the foliage, heating the ground and air.

A few gulps from the canteen and we can face the last switchbacks up the
slope and onto a sunstruck, rocky ridge. The sun has real authority
here. Winding more gradually upward along this ridge, the trail now
takes us beneath pines, trees that are adapted to such hot, dry
situations. If it weren’t for the trail, we would have a tough time
making our way through the thickets of mountain-laurel spread beneath
the scattered pines. A towhee, lover of such thickets, calls its name as
we pass. In one stretch we go through a brown patch of dead pines. After
several mild winters, southern pine beetles have multiplied and feasted
here. If the next winter is not cold enough to kill most of the beetle
larvae, the patch of dead pines may increase greatly in size.

The trail now slants off onto the north side of the ridge. Right away
the air is somewhat cooler here where part of the day the ridgetop
shields it from the sun. The pines quickly disappear, and beeches,
yellow birches, maples, and buckeyes form the forest. You New Englanders
should now feel quite at home, among these tree species that accompany
us all the way across the mountain’s north and east flank. Then, as we
approach the 1,500-meter (5,000-foot) level, the dark spires of
scattered spruces begin to appear, signaling the nearness of the
Smokies’ crowning forest.

But before we make the final ascent, let’s take a short detour to a
nearby knob, which promises a spectacular view, a welcome visual release
after being shut in so long by foliage. Going up the side of the knob,
we quickly leave the forest and begin tunneling through dense thickets
of rhododendron and mountain-laurel. Trees don’t grow here at all. On
top, the shrubs become smaller and we can look out over them. Perched on
the end of a spur from the side of a giant valley, we look up to high
ridges on both sides and down to a stream far below. Is it our
imagination, or do we really hear that stream whispering to us of the
humid, secret world way down there under the big trees? For many minutes
we are lost in contemplation of the Smokies’ green-blue spaces.

The crack of thunder suddenly wakens us from our reverie. A bank of
clouds, dark underneath and contorted with churning air, is rolling over
the ridges and into the head of the valley. The clouds shoot lightning
toward the slopes below. Hypnotized by the spectacle we remain rooted to
our rocks until the first drops fall, then we pull on our ponchos,
determined to greet the storm. Soon the valley view is blotted out by
boiling clouds. We and a circle of shrubs, both whipped by rain and
wind, are all that exist in the world. Our foolhardiness on this exposed
knob is soon revealed as lightning flashes so near that its crackling
sound is almost instantaneous. We hurry down the trail, now a small
torrent where it tunnels through the rhododendrons, and in a few minutes
we reach safer ground. We eat our lunch under sheltering hemlocks. When
we sense the end of the storm, we head toward our day’s goal, the top of
the Smokies. The deciduous forest rapidly turns into a coniferous one,
the beech, birch, maple, buckeye, and others giving way to a nearly
solid stand of spruce and fir. This is an enchanted forest. Carpets of
mosses and ferns, struggling, as it were, for growing space, make
delicate patterns on the forest floor. Limber-stemmed shrubs lift round
or toothed leaves to the pale, post-storm light filtering through the
thick evergreen foliage of the trees above. Out of the stillness, like
the voice of some tiny fairy, comes the tinkling medley of a winter
wren. We stop and listen. We watch a drop of water fall from the tip of
a fern. We feel the coolness, a coolness born of altitude. We have
reached Maine right here in the Smokies.

A short distance beyond, the trail breaks out onto the top of a cliff,
opening to us the whole breadth of the mountains. This is our final
reward; and as we sit here we see, without knowing it, a summary of our
day’s experience. We see landslide scars on the mountainside that
probably came during a storm like the one we just experienced, when the
earth, heavy with water and lying thinly over the smooth rock beneath,
could no longer hang on and slipped in a crashing avalanche down the
slope; like the pine beetle, landslides are one of the many natural
forces that challenge the forest’s powers of recuperation. Chimney
swifts pick insects from the air and we hear the chatter of a red
squirrel interrupted in its hunt for cones. Like the shrew, each in its
own special way is busy gaining the fuel to stay alive. Each, through
its interaction with plants and animals, affects the total fabric of
Smokies life. Far below, the trees of a cove forest march up a stream
valley; on the slopes above them spreads a mantle of oaks. A narrow
ridge far down and off to the right bears the dark green of pines.
Nearer, we see the ragged lower edge of the spruce-fir forest, where it
fingers into the northern hardwoods below it. But we sense an overall
unity because each kind of forest merges into the next, creating an
unbroken mantle that lies over all the ridges as far as the eye can see.

There is no true alpine tundra in the Smokies, such as we might find
atop certain mountains in New York and New England and atop many
mountains in the West. But alpine experiences aplenty await us here for
the climbing. They can be had on ridges, peaks, and, even pinnacles,
from atop which we gaze out over a forested sea of peaks. It is a rare
reminder of the mantle of forest that once lay unbroken over the eastern
United States. It is often said that when Europeans first encountered
America, a squirrel could walk from the Atlantic Ocean to the
Mississippi without touching the ground!

Clouds drift over the mountain waves. Like the clouds of many
yesterdays, they have dropped their burden of excess moisture on the
forests, maintaining the wetness that encourages the lush plant growth
of the Smokies. Then, through a break in the clouds, the sun finally
shines, sending renewed charges of energy into the forest and ultimately
through all the life of the forest. Much of the pattern of forest types
is determined by the way the sun’s rays strike the mountain slopes.
Through changes in its daily duration and height in the sky the sun
makes the seasons. Through its powers to evaporate ocean water and
provide the energy that moves air, it can even be said to bring the rain

                     Georgia to Maine, Straight Up

    [Illustration: Mountain vista]

  A hike from Cades Cove to Clingmans Dome simulates walking from North
  Georgia to Maine. You will begin in Cades Cove amidst oak and pine
  forests which also grow in northern Georgia. Your walk will end atop
  Clingmans Dome in spruce-fir forests characteristic of Maine and
  Canada. In between you will hike beneath the canopies of
  oak-hickory-red maple forests that characterize Virginia, and the
  northern hardwoods of Massachusetts. The reason for this localized
  insight into the whole of the eastern United States forest types is
  the vertical rise of the Great Smoky Mountains. The Smokies’ highest
  peaks stand 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) above its lowlands.

  The axiom is this: here in the Smokies, elevation gain simulates a
  shift to more northerly latitudes. Of course, this is a
  generalization. On an actual hike from Cades Cove to Clingmans Dome
  you would have to detour a lot to take in all the variety of eastern
  U.S. forest types. But all except true alpine tundra are here,
  although not laid out in a straight line.

  In rough attempts to measure the Smokies’ _local_ climates, the rule
  of thumb is that spring advances up the mountains. At lower
  elevations, for example, spring beauty blooms by early March. At 1,500
  meters (5,000 feet) elevation, however, it may still be in full bloom
  two to three months later.

  Remarkably, the Smokies provide a plant laboratory encompassing most
  of the eastern U.S. major forest vegetation types. This, and the fact
  that virgin forests are rare in the East, make it no wonder that the
  Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been designated an
  International Biosphere Reserve.

  This international recognition of and commitment to preserving the
  Smokies underscores the park’s wealth of natural history.

  You need not be an expert to observe this. Sharp eyes and curiosity
  will in themselves unfold great portions of this natural history lore
  for you to ponder.

    [Illustration: In the first low reaches of your one-day trip from
    Georgia to Maine here in the Smokies, crossvine, grapevine, or
    lady’s-slipper (photo) may be blooming. These flowers, like the
    Virginia, pitch, and shortleaf pines, cling to the warmest local
    climates. They also follow the driest slopes and ridges only part
    way up the mountains. As you gain elevation you quickly leave these
    species behind.]

    [Illustration: The contrast between your lowlands trailhead and the
    1,800-meter (6,000-foot) summit is amazing. Even the chickadees
    change en route. The Carolina species holds forth down here in the
    cove, but gives way to the black-capped chickadee somewhere around
    1,500 meters (5,000 feet). The fence lizard is a dry, pine woods
    creature. Like the Carolina Chickadee, it generally avoids higher

    [Illustration: Each animal and plant drops out at a different limit
    as you gain altitude, but more than half of your journey will be
    through deciduous forest, of the cove hardwood type or oak woodland.
    Smokies forests are rich: there are more tree species here than in
    all of Northern Europe.]

    [Illustration: As you travel the lower forests you will probably
    hear the songs of the ovenbird, wood thrush, and pileated
    woodpecker, birds you would hear in mature timber throughout the
    eastern United States. The gray squirrel and the box turtle, both
    familiar creatures, will be occasional trailside companions in these
    broad-leaved woodlands.]

    [Illustration: The basswood tree is considered an “indicator” of the
    cove hardwood forest type. The magnolias, with their oversize
    leaves, catch the eye of most people traveling south from, say,
    Pennsylvania, when they hit the Smokies. Almost a natural “cultural
    shock,” these trees announce that you have arrived in a different
    place. Magnificent magnolias appear along the trail, thinning in
    number and decreasing in size as soon as you leave the cove.]

    Along streams and on the shaded slopes below 1,220 meters (4,000
    feet), look for rosebay rhododendron, yellow buckeye, basswood,
    yellow-poplar, and other cove hardwood “indicator” species. They
    signal that you still have a ways to go in your day’s climb.

    [Illustration: Rosebay rhododendron]

    [Illustration: Yellow buckeye]

    [Illustration: On the cove forest floor in spring you may be lucky
    enough to spot the great white trillium. It was popular after the
    Civil War for decorating graves and so has become, in many places, a
    scarce plant because of this practice. It is protected here in the
    national park, as are all plants, animals, historic structures, and
    archeological artifacts. Please respect these—and the right of
    others who follow you to enjoy them in their natural or historical

    [Illustration: The red squirrel’s raucous chatter—you can’t believe
    such a small creature makes such a big racket—tells you that you are
    leaving the cove forest. The “boomer,” as it is known locally, will
    likely announce your presence periodically to the whole forest from
    here clear to the top of the mountain. Farther north these red
    squirrels may be called pine squirrels; out west, chickarees. Some
    would argue over the species involved, but not over the noise they

    [Illustration: The songs of the winter wren and veery, a thrush,
    also signal that you have climbed above the cove now. But the
    northern bird of the mountains that excites us here is the raven.
    This resourceful bird, often mistaken for the smaller crow, eats
    anything small enough and drives away anything that’s too big to
    eat. That’s an exaggeration, but ravens are contemptuous even of
    hawks aloft in the same windstream.]

    [Illustration: The spruce trees announce that you have gotten to
    Maine at last! The blackish coloration of spruce forests reaching
    here and there down off the crests of the Smokies is conspicuous in
    all seasons. It is from this coloration of spruce stands that the
    nearby Black Mountains of North Carolina are named. The spruce-fir
    forest is a product of winter cold and summer rain in such a
    combination that prevents their invasion by deciduous trees just

                          Cove Hardwood Forest

    [Illustration: Cove hardwood forest]

  A degree of romance or mystique surrounds the cove hardwood forest.
  The name was used as early as 1905 in professional forestry
  literature, but was probably coined much earlier, perhaps in the days
  of settlement.

  The coves share all of their predominant trees with the neighboring
  plant communities, and no common animal or plant is restricted to cove
  forest. The key to its recognition is _variety_, particularly in the
  make-up of the canopy, the name given to the roof level of any
  woodland. Cove forest is not restricted literally to topographic flats
  and hollows; it may also occur on steep slopes, where soil moisture
  conditions are suitable.

  In its best development, cove forest may sustain 20-25 tree species
  tangling branches far overhead. Look for white ash, sugar maple,
  magnolia, American beech, silverbell, and basswood. If most of these
  are present, with or without buckeye, holly, yellow birch, and
  hemlock, you are being treated to cove hardwood scenery.

  Oaks, hickories, red maple and yellow-poplar (tulip tree) will also be
  present, but these widespread species are not really useful in
  settling the question. One often workable rule of thumb is the
  presence of yellow-wood, but this small tree is absent from the cove
  hardwood forest community in many parts of the park.

  Many of today’s typical cove hardwood trees have also been found as
  fossils in rocks of Cretaceous age in the eastern United States. This
  match up—and the recognition that the southern mountains have been
  continuously available for land plant growth since Dinosaur Days—has
  given plant geographers much food for thought. Cove forest is now
  plausibly regarded as a very ancient mixture of species. Probably, it
  was the ancestor of several other widespread forest communities.
  Perhaps it was the haven of refuge sought by many plants and animals
  during the Pleistocene glacial period. Its significance today is its
  wealth of species composition and its heritage—millions of years of
  forest evolution. We are fortunate that significant stands of this
  forest type survive uncut in the Great Smoky Mountains.

  A great benefit of these rich, lush forests for hikers is the
  refreshing coolness they afford on hot summer days. Many people have
  described them as “green cathedrals” because of the coolness, rest,
  and peace they seem to engender.

    [Illustration: When the yellow-poplar seeds into an abandoned farm
    field it means that the field could eventually become a cove forest.
    But the yellow-poplar needs the company of a dozen other species to
    form true cove forest.]

    [Illustration: The yellow-poplar grows fast and straight. Its bark
    has white-sided ridges.]

    [Illustration: Cove forest has less moss cover than the spruce-fir
    forest, but it boasts more kinds of mosses. The abundance of trees,
    flowers, and lower plants is produced by ideal moisture and a
    temperate climate.]

                       Forest Openings: The Balds

    [Illustration: Bald]

  Most mountains show mosaic patterns of vegetation noticeable at a
  distance, or on scenic postcards. In the Smokies high country this
  zoning is conspicuous. These mountains rival the Rockies for all such
  contrasts, except for naked rock above timberline.

  There is no climatic treeline—roughly an elevation above which trees
  cannot survive—in the Smokies. But two important treeless communities,
  called “balds” by the early settlers, give this above-timber effect

  The baldness is not that of bare rock, but rather a mountain-top
  interruption to the forest cover. The two types, grass balds and heath
  balds, are alike only in appearance from a distance, and in their
  preference for mountain summits.

  The Cherokees wove the balds into their religion and folklore.
  Mountaineers grazed stock on the grass balds and cursed the heath
  balds as “slicks” or “hells.” Botanists began to publish explanations
  for these balds a century ago but you can still formulate your own
  theory because there are no agreed-upon answers. The more careful the
  study, the more puzzles arise. But the key in both cases seems to be
  _disturbance_, the successive destruction of generations of tree

  For heath balds the most obvious tree-killing agent is fire and so
  fire was advanced as an explanation for their origin. Shrubs can burn
  to the ground and grow back quickly, sprouting from their roots.
  Mountain laurel, rhododendron, blueberry, huckleberry, and sand myrtle
  all do this. It was theorized that where fire knocks out the tree
  layer, there are the heath balds. But the rub is that some balds show
  no signs of fire and yet are not nursing young trees.

  Landslides eliminate trees, and winter winds may also discourage tree
  growth. Heath balds persevere where slopes are steep, soil is peaty
  and acidic, and the elevation tops 1,200 meters (4,000 feet).

  Today the grass balds are a mosaic of shrubs, grasses, and young
  trees. Open patches may be clearly dominated by grasses but the total
  number of plant species present on grass balds is greater than the
  number present on heath balds.

  Explanations of the origin of grass balds have been much debated but
  no theory has been accepted for them all. We do know that most grass
  balds were used as high elevation pastures in the 1800s and early
  1900s, and when the park was established the grass balds were more
  open than today. Most Southern Appalachian grass balds are being
  quickly invaded by trees and shrubs. The National Park Service is
  developing plans to keep two Smokies balds open. Despite their
  appearance, grassy balds have no floristic relation to true alpine or
  arctic tundra vegetation.

    [Illustration: The sundew, a bog plant common in the far North,
    persists on one grass bald, near a spring. What look like dew
    droplets are actually gluey traps for insects, which this
    carnivorous plant kills and absorbs.]

    [Illustration: Flame azalea thrives on grassy balds. At Gregory Bald
    it hybridizes with other azaleas, producing an array of colored
    flowers that botanists call a “hybrid swarm.”]

    [Illustration: When settlers grazed stock on the grass balds, many
    common weeds such as dandelions were introduced. Before settlement
    deer and elk probably grazed here, and may have helped keep out
    encroaching trees.]

    [Illustration: _The presence of trout somehow symbolizes wild nature
    and pristine beauty. Pools such as this one at the foot of Grotto
    Falls on Roaring Fork, are quiet forest gems that cause the finger
    of many an angler to twitch uncontrollably._]

                           The Trout’s World

The rays of the early morning sun bombard the tops of the trees spread
above the headwaters of Forney Creek. Some penetrate the canopy to make
light patches in the lower layers of the forest. But few break through
the rhododendron thickets along the stream to illuminate its mossy
rocks, its foam, and its clear pools. Down in the darkness beneath
overhanging shrubs, hanging in the current near the bottom of a pool, a
brook trout waits for the stream to bring it food. With dark mottling
along its back, red spots on its olive sides, and pale orange edging on
its lower fins, the fish is beautiful. It is also small, about 18
centimeters (7 inches) long, and lean, for it lives in a harsh
environment where food is scarce, the water is cold and acidic, and
floods and thick ice can scour. This is one of only a few trout in the
pool because there is not enough food for many.

The trout fed little during the night and now its hunger is acute.
Carefully it watches the rippling surface for insects, spiders,
crayfish, salamanders, and worms, or any animal life caught and carried
down by the current. But nothing appears. It noses up to a rock where
earlier in the summer it had found caddisfly larvae fastened in their
tubular little cases made of tiny pebbles. Now none are left on the
surface of the rock accessible to the trout. It searches other rocks and
eventually finds one caddisfly larva and a small mayfly nymph, flattened
against the under side. The trout dashes at a small salamander, which
escapes under another rock. Three crayfish also inhabit the pool but
they are too big for this particular trout to eat.

The trout’s hunger increases and still nothing edible washes over the
miniature waterfall at the head of the pool. But suddenly sand and
gravel begin dropping in and there is a pulsing in the flow of water.
Upstream a bear has crossed and in its crossing it has knocked a beetle
off an overhanging branch. The beetle floats down one little cataract
after another, its legs kicking wildly and its wet wings vainly buzzing.
There is a splash as the trout strikes. The beetle will sustain it
through one more day.

In contrast to the brook trout’s life in the headwaters, the rainbow
trout would appear to have an easier time in the lower reaches of park
streams. Here the pools are larger, the stream gradient is less, the
water is less acidic, and nutrients are more abundant. These conditions
allow more plant and animal life to exist, and therefore create more
food for trout. Also, at these lower elevations, where the water is
deeper, winter ice cannot form so solidly as higher up. These waters are
not exactly teeming with aquatic life, but they are adequate for rainbow

Trout do not generally remain active continuously. They tend to feed in
the late afternoon, at night, and early in the morning, resting at the
bottom of a pool during midday. Both brook and rainbow trout will have
resting sites, day and night, and feeding sites.

A favored feeding site is often the head of the pool, where a trout will
have the first chance to seize insects or other organisms carried into
the pool. It also has the option of hunting many of the forms of life
that live in the stream with it: insect larvae and nymphs of many kinds,
aquatic beetles and spiders, crayfish, leeches and worms, water-mites,
snails, salamanders, tadpoles, and the smaller fish.

Among the more common fishes that live in rainbow trout territory in low
elevation, low gradient streams are sculpins, dace, hogsuckers, river
chubs, shiners, and stonerollers. Hogsuckers, which reach 30 centimeters
(a foot) or more in length, can be seen in many large, quiet pools.
There they search for food on the bottom with their downward protruding
lips. Dace and shiners, members of the minnow family, are very small
fish and some species are brilliantly colored. The river chub and
stoneroller, also minnows, are larger; the stoneroller occasionally
reaches 28 centimeters (11 inches). Locally known as “hornyhead” and
enjoyed as a food fish, the abundant stoneroller may limit the numbers
of rainbow trout in some stretches of stream because of its own spawning
activities. Rainbows lay their eggs on gravelly areas in early spring. A
month or so later, before the trout eggs have hatched, stonerollers
frequently build their nests in the same places, covering or scattering
the trout eggs in the process. This sort of competition was probably not
expected or considered when rainbows were introduced to the Smokies;
nevertheless, the trout do manage to perpetuate themselves.

No doubt the most peculiar creature in the lower sections of park
streams is the hellbender, a huge, grayish salamander with a loose fold
of skin along each side. Commonly reaching 30 centimeters (a foot) and
occasionally more than 60 centimeters (2 feet) in length, hellbenders
hide under rocks and debris in swift water and feed on fish and other
animals up to the size of crayfish. Below elevations of about 500 meters
(1,600 feet) smallmouth bass, rock bass, and brightly colored little
darters appear in park waters. Brown trout, an introduced species that
has apparently entered the park from farther downstream, live in the
lower sections of some streams, and may be found in the headwaters of
some streams. Of the three species of trout in the Smokies, browns
generally prove most difficult to catch.

Since early in this century when rainbow trout were introduced, and
possibly even before, brook trout have been retreating upstream in these
mountains. In the late 19th century, brook trout occurred as low as 500
meters (1,600 feet); now they are found mostly above 915 meters (3,000
feet). The effects of logging and competition from rainbows are the most
frequently suggested reasons for this retreat. Logging, which began on a
large scale in the Smokies about 1900, brought with it many fires. The
resulting exposure to full sunlight caused the warming of low-elevation
sections of streams. Erosion of the denuded land added heavy loads of
sediment to the streams. These changed conditions, and possibly heavy
fishing pressure, apparently speeded the disappearance of brook trout
from the lower elevations. Rainbows were introduced and proved able to
survive. In the ’20s and ’30s it was noted that rainbows occurred in
streams up to about the upper limit of logging, and that brook trout
occupied streams above that point. Now, however, streams are once again
shaded by forests their full length; but brook trout, instead of moving
back down, seem to have retreated higher upstream. It appears that the
larger, more aggressive rainbows somehow prevent brook trout from
reoccupying their lost waters.

The National Park Service is concerned for the future of the Smokies’
one species of native trout, and especially for the few isolated
populations of brookies that may still remain unmixed with populations
of brook trout introduced from other parts of the country. On some
streams, waterfalls provide effective barriers to the advance of rainbow
trout, and use of artificial barriers for this purpose has been
considered. Stringent fishing regulations may help the easily caught
brook trout—and the gluttonous poaching that sometimes eliminates large
numbers of brook trout from long stretches of a stream must be stopped.
This type of management problem, how to preserve native species and
reduce the impact of exotic ones, is common in national parks. It is
only one aspect of a larger problem: How do we maintain natural
ecosystems in parks? This basic aspect of the national park idea is
difficult to implement in a country where human influence is so

Quite a few animals of the Smokies depend on streams and their organisms
without living entirely in them. They live with one foot in the water
and one foot on land, as it were. Raccoons out hunting at night patrol
streams, alert for frogs, crayfish, and mussels. Mink pursue fish,
crayfish, and other animals underwater, flowing downstream through the
foam as effortlessly as water itself. Kingfishers perch on overhanging
branches to plunge headfirst after small fish. Their loud, rattling
calls can be heard on the lower courses of many streams. The small
Louisiana waterthrush, a warbler, teeters on rocks in the torrent,
searching for aquatic insects. It nests on stream banks or behind
waterfalls. Its song, a lovely descending jumble of notes, cascades like
the water of its haunts. Harmless water snakes, mottled brown somewhat
like the water moccasin (which does not occur in the Smokies), like to
sun on limbs or debris near the water. Frogs, fish, salamanders, and
crayfish form most of their diet. Of the park’s few species of frogs,
the green frog is the one most likely to be found in streams. Aquatic
turtles are even less common; most numerous is the snapping turtle, a
wanderer that sometimes reaches the middle elevations in the park.

Ducks, herons, and other large aquatic birds, scarce in the park because
there are no large bodies of water, do appear occasionally. On the
section of Abrams Creek that flows through Cades Cove you may surprise a
wood duck or green heron. Though not very productive of plant food,
Fontana Lake on the south border of the park sometimes serves as a
resting place for migrating waterfowl.

Perhaps we humans could be considered semi-aquatic ourselves, so
strongly does water attract us. In the Smokies people love to visit
waterfalls, plunge into favorite swimming holes, play among the rocks
and white water, and fish up and down the streams. One of my favorite
activities is simple stream-watching. Just pick a sunny rock, sit down
with your lunch, and watch. That’s all there is to it. Trout will
eventually grow bold enough to come out of hiding. Birds fly out of the
dense forest to feed in the sunlit shrubs along the stream. Butterflies
wander down this open avenue, and dragonflies dart after winged prey.
Sometimes the unusual happens. One fine October day as I was just
finishing my sandwich, a little red squirrel appeared on the opposite
shore, edged down a rock to the water, and plunged in. It drifted with
the current and then scrambled out on a rock near me. A swimming
squirrel I had never expected to see.

In the Smokies you are seldom far from the sound of water. These
tumbling streams—the Little Pigeon, the Oconaluftee, Roaring Fork, Hazel
Creek, and all their many brothers—have voices as various as a hound
dog’s. They talk, murmur, shout, and sing, rising and falling in tone.
Porters Creek once actually convinced me that people were talking and
playing guitars on its bank. This is the soul music of the mountains.

                             Smokies Trout

    [Illustration: Brook trout, or “spec,” are a glimpse of nature at
    her best. Their colorful delicacy is a sharp contrast to the
    mountains’ mass. The three-toned fins most easily distinguish it
    from other species while it swims. A mountaineer here once paid the
    local dentist 200 trout—caught in a morning—for some dental work, as
    attested by account books. Park regulations now prohibit catching
    the brook trout because it has lost so much of its original
    territory that its numbers have been severely reduced.]

    [Illustration: Brown trout, a European fish, has entered the park
    recently. It inhabits the park’s lower waters, which provide the
    warmer, slower conditions it prefers. It will eat its own young as
    well as those of competing rainbow and brook trout.]

    [Illustration: Rainbow trout were introduced from the West during
    the logging era via milk cans to improve fishing. They are larger
    and more aggressive than brookies.]

The streams and rivers of the Smokies are famous for their purity. All
who come to these mountains are impressed by the beauty of the waterways
that have carved their way into the lush wilderness. More than 300
streams flow throughout the park. To many of us these streams mean only
one thing, trout. Actually, more than 70 species of fish have been
collected in the park, such as chubs, shiners, minnows, dace, catfish,
suckers, sculpins, darters, and even lamprey.

Trout live in fast-flowing water where their streamlined bodies enable
them to maintain themselves in the current, often close to the stream
bottom. Brookies, especially, require such pure water that they are
often considered a clean water “index.”

    [Illustration: This little creature is known as a mayfly, one of the
    five insects most widely imitated by artificial fly patterns. The
    imitations seek to simulate, as dry, wet, or nymph patterns, the
    insects’ larval and adult stages and their aquatic habits.]

    [Illustration: _Male Adams_]

    [Illustration: _Dark Cahill_]

    [Illustration: _Olive Caddis_]

    [Illustration: _Leadwing Coachman_]

    [Illustration: _Yellow Hammer (antique gold)_]

    [Illustration: _Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear_]

    [Illustration: _Adams Variant_]

    [Illustration: _Royal Wulff_]

    [Illustration: _Light Cahill_]

    [Illustration: _Secret Weapon_]

    [Illustration: _Yellow Hammer (peacock)_]

    [Illustration: _Muskrat Nymph_]

    [Illustration: _Yellow Forney Creek_]

    [Illustration: _Humpy or Guffus Bug_]

    [Illustration: _Grey Hackle Peacock_]

    [Illustration: _Yellow Wooly Worm_]

    [Illustration: _Light Cahill Nymph_]

    [Illustration: _Tellico Nymph_]

To rile up trout anglers just assert that one fly pattern is the best.
But in fly fishing areas such as the Smokies, a few patterns inevitably
emerge as favorites. Here as elsewhere, most artificial flies imitate
five varieties of insects common to most waters: mayflies, caddisflies,
stoneflies, alderflies, and ants. There are, in all, about 5,000 sorts
of human-tied flies in existence. Does that sound overwhelming? Well,
there are probably hundreds of thousands of varieties of insects which
trout may feed upon at one time or another. The following advice will
help you narrow your choice.

Dry Flies _Mayfly imitations_: Light Cahill, Quill Gordon, Royal
Coachman, Dark Hendrickson. _Caddis imitations_: Henryville Special.
_Ant imitations_: Black Ant, Red Ant.

Wet Fly and Nymphs Black Woolly Worm, Hendrickson, Light Cahill, Hare’s
Ear, March Brown.

Streamers Olive Mateuka, Muddler Minnow (imitates grasshopper or

Watch out for low-hanging branches!

    [Illustration: _Female Adams_]

  ① Head
  ② Wing
  ③ Body
  ④ Tail
  ⑤ Hackle

    [Illustration: Choosing a pattern may challenge today’s trout angler
    in the Smokies, but choosing your bait does not. Fishing is confined
    to artificial lures only. No bait is allowed. Pictured here is Mrs.
    Clem Enloe. She was 84 years old and lived on Tight Run Branch when
    Joseph S. Hall took this photo. She was the last person—and the only
    one in her own day, in fact—allowed to use worms as bait in the
    park. She was also allowed to fish here any season of the year
    because she flat refused to obey the new park’s newly-instituted
    fishing regulations. Park rangers didn’t have the heart to throw the
    book at her. “I was told that if I took her a box of snuff, she
    would let me take her picture,” photographer Hall said. That’s the
    snuff in her blouse. Someone later suggested that the rangers should
    have tried snuff too.

    We ask that you, however, please follow all fishing regulations!]


    [Illustration: Loading logs onto a flatcar]

  “These are the heaviest and most beautiful hard-wood forests of the
  continent,” read a 1901 report from President Theodore Roosevelt to
  Congress. Lumber entrepreneurs were impressed, and the Little River
  watershed was sold that year for about $9.70 per hectare ($4.00 per
  acre)—all 34,400 hectares (85,000 acres) of it! Throughout the
  Smokies, entire watersheds were staked off like mining claims. Largest
  of all was a timbered plot owned by the Champion Coated Paper Company.
  It included Deep Creek, Greenbrier Cove, and the headwaters of the
  Oconaluftee River.

    [Illustration: Horse team hauling logs]

Logging came to the Smokies on a large scale about 1900. Settlers had
always cut trees here, but the lumber companies and their money and
methods injected a major new element. Instead of a few oxen dragging
heavy logs to mill, the lumber companies introduced railroads, steam
loaders, and steam skidders on the landscape. As you drive from Elkmont
toward Townsend along the park road, you are driving atop the old
railbed that was laid down by the Little River Logging Company.

New towns sprang up: Elkmont, Crestmont, Proctor, Ravensford, and
Smokemont. These provided something new to the Smokies, a cash market.
For a time, one egg would “buy” a child a week’s supply of candy. Local
families sold farm products to the loggers and sawmill men.

    [Illustration: Steam-powered saw]

    [Illustration: Cut lumber]

The Smokies yielded board feet of lumber by the millions. Cherry was the
most valuable wood, and most scarce. Tall, straight yellow-poplar turned
out to be the most profitable because of its large volume.

                           Fires and Flooding

    [Illustration: The devastation seen in the photograph is the
    aftermath of a fire that was set by sparks belched out of logging
    equipment, an unfortunate source of several devastating fires in
    logging’s heyday.]

The ravages of logging led to fires, and the fires led to flooding. Many
fires were set by the flaming sparks from locomotives or log skidders.
More than 20 disastrous fires took place in the 1920s alone. A two-month
series of fires burned over parts of Clingmans Dome, Silers Bald, and
Mt. Guyot. Intense destruction occurred in the Charlie’s Bunion area of
The Sawteeth in 1925. Hikers on the Appalachian Trail still see the
effects of this fire.

The fires created conditions for massive flooding. Parched soils were no
longer secured by living roots and the dense mat of plants that makes
the Smokies world famous today. Streams and rivers flooded, carrying
unusually heavy loads of sediment. These conditions were intolerable for
the native Southern Appalachian brook trout and apparently speeded their
disappearance from lower elevations.

Rainbow trout were introduced and proved able to survive. More recently
brown trout were successfully introduced. The brookies now occupy less
than half the territory they did in the 1930s.

    [Illustration: Some flooding is still common today. This is natural.
    The Smokies get their fair share of rainfall, making seasonal
    flooding expected. And every few years prolonged or bad storms can
    cause unusually heavy flooding of the streams and rivers. Here you
    see the Little Pigeon River in flood near park headquarters in 1979.
    Whenever Smokies streams or rivers are flooded it is very dangerous
    to attempt crossing them. Don’t try it. Revise your itinerary

What about fires today? Lightning-caused fire is as ancient as the
mountains themselves and has always been a part of the forest’s life
process. Some tree species actually depend on fire for regeneration,
such as the pin cherry. And the heath bald shrubs, such as blueberry and
mountain-laurel, prosper after a light burn. Fire is necessary as well
to dozens of flowering plants which quickly seed new forest openings the
fire creates.

We have long viewed fire on wildlands as a catastrophe, and indeed it is
often a piteous sight. But the urge to suppress fire completely
sometimes results in other unsatisfactory conditions. On many large
public land areas limited wildfires are now allowed to burn if they
don’t threaten private property or human lives.

    [Illustration: Fire-fighting airplane]

    [Illustration: Fire-fighters on the ground]

    [Illustration: _The Smokies is an ancient land-mass. Its plantlife
    may have evolved uninterruptedly for more than 200 million years.
    Continental Ice Age glaciation did not reach this far south, and as
    the Atlantic Ocean has repeatedly inundated most of North America,
    the Smokies remained an island._]

                       The Evolution of Abundance

Diversity is the biological keynote of the Great Smoky Mountains. Within
the national park have been found about 1,500 species of flowering
plants, among which are some 100 trees. There are around 2,000 fungi, 50
mammals, 200 birds, and 70 fishes, or more than in the fresh waters of
any other national park on our continent. There are about 80 reptiles
and amphibians, among which are 22 salamanders, which is probably as
many as can be found in any similar-sized area in North America. Present
conditions, such as warmth, abundant moisture, and a diversity of
environments brought about by the height and dissection of the
mountains, are partly responsible for this biotic wealth. But time, the
many millions of years this land has been above the sea and south of the
ice, has also been an important factor. It has been a span long enough
for a great many species of plants and animals to get here and find a
niche and for other species to evolve in the region. The story of the
arrival and evolution of the present flora and fauna is intimately
linked with the dramatic history of our continent.

We can only guess what life existed here during the 130 million years of
the Mesozoic era, because no rocks from this period exist in the
Smokies. But we can imagine that dinosaurs and primitive birds and
mammals roamed the region, as they did other parts of the continent.
Toward the close of the Mesozoic, flowering plants evolved and rapidly
became the dominant type of vegetation. We can guess that some of these
first magnolias, elms, and oaks grew right here in the ancestral
Smokies. Newly evolved bees probably helped to pollinate some of the
flowering plants.

The story becomes clearer and the life forms become more and more
familiar to us during the 65 million years of the Cenozoic, the present
era. In the first half of the Cenozoic, subtropical vegetation grew in
the southern United States and temperate vegetation grew north to the
Arctic. As these plants would indicate by their ability to grow here,
this was a time of warm or mild climates throughout the Northern
Hemisphere. Land bridges between North America and Eurasia, by way of
the Bering Strait and perhaps Greenland, allowed the spread of a
remarkably homogeneous flora throughout the then-temperate parts of
these two continents. The Great Smokies, with their feet in the South
and, as it were, their head climatically in the North, must have had
both subtropical and temperate vegetation early in the Cenozoic era.

During the second half of the Cenozoic, a cooling trend set in. The
widespread “Arctotertiary” vegetation of the northern latitudes moved
southwards through North America and Eurasia. By the end of the
Tertiary, which includes all but the past two to three million years of
the Cenozoic, the vegetation zones of North America were probably very
similar to those of the present. In the Smokies the trees probably
ranged from southern types, such as sweetgum, at low elevations through
the great mixture of cove forests and possibly to spruce and fir at the
highest elevations. After a long period of gradual change in climate,
the stage was set for the drastic events of the Pleistocene.

It is hard for us to imagine what an ice age must have been like in our
country. Perhaps the only way to imagine it is to visit the Antarctic or
one of the great glaciers in Alaska, and to watch giant slabs of ice
fall from those towering walls. Then ... mentally transport the scene to
the Hudson River valley or to the flatlands of Illinois, while
magnifying the thickness of those glaciers several times over. Then
imagine the surface of that great ice sheet stretching all the way to
northern Canada.

If you had stood near the front of that massive ice sheet, you would
have felt the cold air flowing off it. How far south that cold, dense
air flowed and to what extent it affected temperatures in the southern
states are unanswered questions. But undoubtedly temperatures were
lowered throughout North America and perhaps farther south. Some
scientists postulate a drop of 5.5 degrees Celsius (10 degrees
Fahrenheit) in mean annual temperatures in southern United States. The
high pressure that developed over the ice sheet would have pushed storm
tracks southward, increasing precipitation in the South.

Such continental ice sheets advanced at least four times as climates
cooled, and as many times they retreated during warmer intervals. With
each advance and the consequent cooler, wetter climate, there was
undoubtedly a southward shift of vegetation belts. In the mountains
there would also have been a downward shift of forest types,
particularly those of the higher elevations. That is, the higher
elevation species would begin to grow down the slope. In sheltered coves
temperatures probably did not drop as much as they did higher up or out
in the open lowlands, and soils in coves were deeper and more fertile.
The coves of the Southern Appalachians thus may have formed a refuge for
many temperate species of plants, including some forced southward by the
spreading ice. This is a factor in today’s biotic richness or abundance
in the Smokies.

On top of the Smokies and other high mountains of the Southern
Appalachians, tundra (treeless areas) may have developed as winter
climates became too cold and windy even for spruce and fir, which is the
situation today on high peaks of the Adirondacks and White Mountains in
New England. Accumulations of blocky boulders in higher parts of the
Smokies resemble block fields in the northern Appalachians that probably
were formed above timberline in late stages of glaciation. From the
location of block fields, geologists postulate a treeline in the Smokies
somewhere between 900 and 1,500 meters (3,000 and 5,000 feet) elevation
during the last glacial period, some 15,000 to 25,000 years ago. If
islands of tundra did exist in the Southern Appalachians, it is not
likely that tundra mammals would have migrated from the tundra bordering
the ice front through the intervening forest to reach such Arctic
pastures in the sky. But some birds might have. Water pipits, which
today nest in the Arctic and above timberline on our Western mountains,
might have bred on these patches of southern tundra. And the few snow
buntings which have been seen wintering on Southern Appalachian balds
may have been returning to ancestral nesting grounds of the species.

Although Pleistocene tundra in the Smokies is a rather speculative
notion, it seems certain that spruce-fir forest existed below today’s
1,400-meter (4,600-foot) limit. This supposition is supported by the
fact that fossil pollen and other fragments of spruce and fir have been
found in several lowland bog deposits of the South.

During the last Ice Age the Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forests and
their animals must have been a richer version of the plant-animal
community that exists in this zone today, for at the peak of the ice
advance northern plants and animals probably could migrate along a
continuous avenue of this boreal forest in the Appalachians. Bones from
cave deposits at Natural Chimneys in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley
indicate that such northern animals as porcupines, snowshoe hares, pine
martens, fishers, spruce grouse, and gray jays, as well as the now
extinct longnosed peccary and giant beaver, roamed that area 10,000 to
15,000 years ago. The still existing species mentioned above now live
farther north in the forests of New England and Canada. If such animals
could live during the late Pleistocene at 450 meters (1,500 feet) in
Virginia, many and perhaps all of them might well have lived at higher
elevations in the Smokies. In the case of porcupines, archeological
records from nearby regions in fact support this idea.

After the retreat of the last ice sheet a warm, dry period set in and
caused the development of grasslands as far east as Ohio. To what extent
this change in climate may have affected the Smokies is not known. But
it may have been responsible for the development of the beech gaps: as
the spruce-fir forests were forced ever higher, beeches and yellow
birches followed in their wake. The once continuous band of spruce-fir
forest through the Southern Appalachians would then have been broken
into patches as it migrated to higher elevations—and disappeared
entirely on the lower mountains. Today such forest is restricted in the
Southern Appalachians to the highest parts of eastern West Virginia,
southwestern Virginia, western North Carolina, and areas in and just
north of the Great Smokies. During the warmer, drier period following
glaciation, boreal forest must have been even smaller in extent.

Another consequence of warming was the northward migration of plants and
animals into territory vacated by the ice sheet (north of the Ohio River
and Long Island). The result today in northeastern United States is a
broad patchwork of forest types, each type dominated by a few species,
as in beech-maple or beech-birch-white pine forests. This stands in
contrast to the diversity of the cove forests from which the migrants
extended. Cove forests still harbor individuals of all these species.

What happens next? Has the Pleistocene epoch really ended or are we
merely between glaciers, awaiting the next invasion of ice? For the
Smokies the question implies others: Will the forest zones move up or
down the mountainsides? How will this affect animal life?

While terrestrial life in the mountains flourished during the
continent’s climatic swings, aquatic life fared equally well. Within
Great Smoky Mountains National Park live some 70 species of fish.
Contrast this with the number in Shenandoah National Park in the Blue
Ridge of Virginia, which has only about 25 species. Why so many in the
Smokies? The answer parallels the situation for plants and terrestrial
animals: diversity of environments and plenty of time. All the streams
of the Smokies lie within the Tennessee River drainage, which is part of
the Mississippi River drainage. The Tennessee River has more species of
fish than any other river in North America, because of its many
environments (lowland, plateau, and mountain); the vastness of the
Mississippi drainage; its existence for many millions of years; and its
Pleistocene history. During glacial periods many species of fish were
forced southward by ice and cold glacial water. The Tennessee River
system offered them a refuge just as Southern Appalachian coves offered
a refuge for plants. Even the Mississippi itself was a less favorable
haven because it received most of the meltwater. In the headwaters of
the Tennessee, the streams of the Smokies thus benefit from their
contact with an ancient, relatively undisturbed river system. Within the
park, stream environments range from cold and fast to comparatively cool
and slow, with large, deep pools.

While most of the present plant and animal species of the Smokies have
ranges that extend far beyond these mountains, and while many of these
have spread here from other areas of origin, a few are restricted solely
to the Smokies. This suggests that they may have evolved here. One such
plant is Rugel’s groundsel, a member of the Composite family that grows
to about 28 centimeters (11 inches) high and bears large, cylindrical
clusters of tiny golden flowers. This plant, abundant in the park’s
spruce-fir forests, has not been found outside the Smokies. This
suggests that it evolved in the Southern Appalachians and that after the
last glacial period, when connection with other sections of spruce-fir
forest was broken, it persisted or survived only in the Smokies. By
comparison, the Fraser fir, though most abundant in the Smokies, also
occurs north to southwestern Virginia on the highest mountains,
indicating that it evolved at some earlier, colder time when spruce-fir
forest was more nearly continuous. The red-cheeked salamander, a
striking creature, is probably the sole vertebrate found exclusively in
the Smokies. Many other species of salamanders, however, are restricted
to parts of the southern end of the Appalachians and probably evolved
there, where the cool, wet climate and diverse topography provide ideal
conditions for this group of animals. How many other species of plants
and animals evolved in the region and subsequently spread far beyond
this point of origin we can only conjecture.

                        Natural History Sampler

  These eight pages sample the abundant life of the Smokies, from
  flowering plants and shrubs to birds, mammals, reptiles, and

  Species are shown for various reasons. You may want to identify the
  common species you see in the wild. Other species are uncommon and you
  are not likely to see them. Still others are uncommonly beautiful, and
  we don’t want you to miss seeing at least their pictures.

  Information, drawings, and photographs of bears and wild boars are
  found in the Bears, Boars and Acorns chapter.

    [Illustration: _Jack-in-the-pulpit_]

    [Illustration: _Scarlet painted-cup_]

    [Illustration: _Painted trillium_]

    [Illustration: _Coreopsis_]

    [Illustration: _Turk’s-cap lily_]

    [Illustration: _Bird’s-foot violet_]

    [Illustration: _Pink lady’s-slipper_]

    [Illustration: _Orange hawkweed_]

    [Illustration: _Passion-flower_]

    [Illustration: _Fringe-tree_]

    [Illustration: _Flame azalea_]

    [Illustration: _Mountain silverbell_]

    [Illustration: _Dog-hobble_]

    [Illustration: _Redbud_]

    [Illustration: _Witch-hobble_]

    [Illustration: _Umbrella magnolia_]

    [Illustration: _Catawba rhododendron_]

    [Illustration: _Yellow-poplar_]

    [Illustration: _Flowering dogwood_]

    [Illustration: _Fire cherry_]

    [Illustration: _Mountain laurel_]

    [Illustration: _Barred owl_]

    [Illustration: _Wild turkey_]

    [Illustration: _Common flicker_]

    [Illustration: _Cardinal_]

    [Illustration: _Yellow warbler_]

    [Illustration: _Tufted titmouse_]

    [Illustration: _Spotted skunk_]

    [Illustration: _Cottontail rabbit_]

    [Illustration: _Deermouse_]

    [Illustration: _Whitetail deer_]

    [Illustration: _Bobcat_]

    [Illustration: _Opossum_]

    [Illustration: _Fence lizard_]

    [Illustration: _Leopard frog_]

    [Illustration: _Midland mud salamander_]

    [Illustration: _Ringneck snake_]

    [Illustration: _Gray treefrog_]

    [Illustration: _Marbled salamander_]

    [Illustration: _Timber rattlesnake_]

    [Illustration: _Pine snake_]

    [Illustration: _Red-cheeked salamander_]

    [Illustration: _Copperhead_]

    [Illustration: _American toad_]

    [Illustration: _Spotted salamander_]

    [Illustration: _Oak trees add the brilliance of their turning leaves
    to fall’s burst of colors. The oaks’ acorn crop is also important
    winter food for several forest creatures. Chestnuts once supplied
    winter food, too, but a blight virtually eliminated the chestnut
    trees earlier this century, adding to the importance of acorns._]

                        Bears, Boars and Acorns

As frosts touch the earth and the reds and yellows of fall creep down
the mountainsides, oaks, hickories, beeches, and other trees shed their
fruits. Many animals will join in the harvest of this fruit, but
several, especially bear, deer, wild boar, gray squirrel, chipmunk,
turkey, and ruffed grouse, are particularly dependent on this mast, as
it is called, for their autumn and winter welfare. With the chestnut
gone these animals must rely mostly on acorns. Oaks, unlike the
chestnut, do not produce consistently, but fruit abundantly some years
and fail in others. In the poor years, when competition for mast is
keen, the effects are starvation, wandering, and mass migrations. The
appearance and multiplication of European wild boars in the park have
only added to the pressure on the native animal species. Acorn shortages
bring into sharp focus the life styles and survival systems of the
mast-dependent animals. From among these the wild boar emerges as an
ecological villain, although we should perhaps cast man, who introduced
the boar here, in that role.

The loss of the chestnut illustrates how a change in one element can
irrevocably alter an entire ecosystem. As the chestnuts of the Smokies
died, their place was taken primarily by chestnut oak, northern red oak,
red maple, hemlock, and silverbell. The annual mast crop suffered from
this change in two ways. First, only about half of the replacement trees
were mast-bearing oaks. Second, oaks are not dependable mast-bearers.
Mast failures seem to result mainly from spring freezes during the
pollinating and fertilization of oak flowers. Chestnuts bloomed in the
first two weeks of June when the danger of frost was slight and so they
bore well nearly every year. This difference in flowering time has had
reverberations throughout the animal world within these mountains. By
looking into the life histories and population dynamics of some of the
acorn eaters we may get some idea of the nature and extent of those

Whitetail deer prefer young forests and mixtures of forest and field
because in these areas an abundance of shrubs and herbaceous plants
provides ample food. The mature forests of the Smokies have relatively
little forage near the ground and so they support only small numbers of
deer. In the Cades Cove area, however, the lush meadows and
second-growth forest feed several hundred deer. In the fall deer join in
the mast harvest, but they do not depend on it as do the bears, gray
squirrels, wild boars, and chipmunks. Deer have the option of eating
twigs, buds, and herbaceous plants. They eat acorns, however, and this
nutritious food will help them enter winter in good condition. Deer
mating takes place from September to November in the Smokies, as the
mature males each run with a female for several days, then hunt for
another. In winter the bucks shed their antlers and join the does and
yearlings. In May or June the does give birth to their spotted fawns,
usually twins. The summer bands you see in Cades Cove are again
separated by sex as the bucks once again grow antlers in preparation for
the autumn battles.

Now that wolves and other large predators are gone from the Smokies,
starvation and disease are the principal checks on deer numbers. Late in
1971 a disease that causes massive bleeding struck the herd in Cades
Cove, killing many of the deer and a few cattle. But by the following
spring an increase in the production of offspring and the influx of deer
from nearby areas brought the herd back almost to its former number.

Gray squirrel numbers fluctuate even more dramatically, as populations
build up and then collapse, but these oscillations occur even when food
is adequate. Until recently, some observers thought these oscillations
were amplified by mast failures, but apparently they are not. In the
Smokies, gray squirrels are found mostly in the oak and beech forest of
the lower and middle elevations, while their smaller cousins, the red
squirrels, stick more to the upper elevations. In years of extreme low
population swings such as 1946 and 1968, many migrating squirrels have
been killed on the highways; others have even been seen attempting to
swim Fontana Lake. The loss of gray squirrels in 1946 was estimated at
90 percent for some watersheds.

Turkeys and ruffed grouse both feed heavily on acorns in the fall,
although they, like the deer, have other possibilities. Turkey and
grouse also feed on the fruits of dogwood and wild grape; beechnuts in
good years; seeds; and buds. A statewide study in Virginia found that
acorns supplied about one-quarter of the annual diet of wild turkeys,
and this proportion is much higher in fall. Acorns are also a top food
item in fall for ruffed grouse.

We come now to the two chief antagonists in the annual mast hunt, bears
and wild boars. The arrival of wild boars in the park has meant added
competition for bears, as well as many other disruptive ecological
effects. By considering the population dynamics and seasonal activities
of these two species, we get a clear contrast between their roles. One
fits in with the forest “establishment” and one clearly does not.

How many bears live in the park? This is difficult to determine because
bears are secretive and tend to wander. The National Park Service
estimates that numbers usually range from about 400 up to about 600,
depending on reproduction, food availability, extent of poaching, and
other factors. The estimates are based on intensive research by the
University of Tennessee in the northwest quarter of the park.

From about December to March black bears sleep, although they
occasionally come out for brief periods. During the University of
Tennessee studies it was learned, to the surprise of many, that bears in
the Great Smokies had a preference for denning in hollow trees,
sometimes as much as 15 meters (50 feet) above the ground. Typically,
such a tree has been broken off by storms and provides an entrance and
some sort of platform within that supports the bear. In such a den, or
one in a protected place on the ground, the female in alternate years
gives birth to tiny cubs weighing about a half-kilo (18 ounces) apiece.

Most bears leave their dens in late March or April and from then until
early summer, when berries begin ripening, they find food scarce. Black
bears are primarily vegetarians, though they eat almost any animal
matter they can find, from ants to large mammals, as well as carrion. In
spring they graze grasses heavily. Squawroot, a fleshy, conelike,
parasitic plant, is a favored food then, so much so that local people
call squawroot bear potato or bear cabbage. Roots and insect grubs also
help to see the bears through spring, a time so lean for them that
droppings are seldom seen on the trails. At this season bears roam
widely at all elevations. Mating occurs in early summer.

From late July until early September the bears concentrate on berries,
especially the blackberries growing in open places such as ridgetops and
balds, and the blueberries most abundant in open oak-pine woods. Since
insects and vertebrate animals are most numerous in summer, bears
harvest them more frequently then than at other times. They especially
seek beetles and nests of yellowjackets. With throngs of campers in the
park bears investigate this source of food, too. National Park Service
management practices are aimed at ending such scavenging—which makes
bears both dependent on and dangerous to people—and ensuring that the
animals live out their normal lives in the forest. Being deprived of
garbage will work no hardship because, for bears and most other animals,
summer is the season of abundance.

As fall progresses blackberries, blueberries, and beetles diminish in
the diet and acorns and beechnuts increase until they become the primary
sustenance. Bears are particularly fond of white oak acorns, the
sweetest. In their eagerness the huge animals, which sometimes reach 200
kilos (450 pounds) in weight, even climb trees and crawl out on the
branches as far as they can to eat the fruits or break off and drop the
branch tips for consumption on the ground. They also relish black
cherries and serviceberries. A park naturalist told me of watching a
very large bear climb a 5-centimeter (2-inch) thick serviceberry on
Spence Field, bending the tree double. Throughout the Southern
Appalachians you can see small serviceberries broken down like this by
bears in their quest for the fruits.

In most years the mast crop is adequate for all the animals dependent on
it, but in the years of failure bears are hard pressed to find enough to
eat. They wander down out of the mountains in search of food. In such
years many are killed by hunters outside the national park. The loss of
bears in some of the poorest mast years may be one-third to one-half of
the park’s bear population.

Enter now the European wild boar. Its history in the Smokies is another
classic example, along with the chestnut blight fungus, balsam woolly
aphid, Norway rat, Starling, and a host of other pests, of the damage
that can be done by introducing an organism to territory outside its
normal range. The wild boars in the Smokies are believed to be
descendants of animals, purportedly of stock from Germany, that escaped
from a game preserve on Hooper Bald, southwest of Fontana Lake, in the
early 1920s. They were first detected in the park about 1950. By the
early 1960s wild boars, now with some admixture of domestic pig blood,
had spread east to Newfound Gap and, in the lower country, to Cosby and
possibly Cataloochee. Their occupation of the entire park seemed

So now the Smokies have a wild counterpart of the domestic hog, the
staple livestock animal that mountaineers once ran year-round in these
woods. Horace Kephart’s vivid description of the hog in the 1920s
applies almost as well to today’s European wild boar: “In physique and
mentality, the razorback differs even more from a domestic hog than a
wild goose does from a tame one,” Kephart wrote. “Shaped in front like a
thin wedge, he can go through laurel thickets like a bear. Armored with
tough hide cushioned by bristles, he despises thorns, brambles, and
rattlesnakes, alike. His extravagantly long snout can scent like a
cat’s, and yet burrow, uproot, overturn, as if made of metal.”

The hog’s long legs, thin flanks, and pliant hoofs fitted it to run like
a deer and climb like a goat, Kephart claimed, calling it “a warrior
born” who was also a first rate strategist.

The European wild boar sometimes attains a height of nearly a meter
(three feet) at the shoulder and a weight of 100 kilos (220 pounds). It
is built rather like a bison, the hindquarters sloping down from the
shoulders. The long, hairy-tipped tail and, in the male, well-developed
tusks also distinguish it from its domestic counterpart. Obviously, this
is a formidable animal, as numerous boar hunters who have been treed by
it or watched it cut up their dogs can attest. Normally, however, wild
boars are not dangerous and run at the sight or scent of man. One
evening, standing in a yard where a boar had rooted the night before, I
asked a long-time boar observer about the animal’s pugnacity.

“They won’t attack you unless they’re wounded or hemmed,” this observer
related. “I’ve tried to get them to charge me. Even picked up a
squealing piglet once, but the sow didn’t attack.”

Wild boars feed mostly at night. Campers near balds in the western
section of the park sometimes see them or hear their grunts and snorts
as they run away. The females and young travel about in family groups
but the males are loners. Though the animals are elusive, spending their
days resting in dense cover, the signs of their rooting are very obvious
on balds, in beech gaps and open fields, and along trails in moist

Wild boars move seasonally in quest of food. In spring they eat a lot of
grass, as well as succulent roots and the upper parts of wildflowers,
which are especially abundant in cove forests and high-elevation beech
forests. In summer they continue eating grass and other herbaceous
plants but also seek huckleberries, blueberries, and blackberries. When
acorns, hickory nuts, beechnuts, and other tree fruits start falling,
they turn their attention to these, which in abundant years can carry
the boars through winter. When the mast fails they feed heavily on
tubers of wild yam and the outer layer of pitch pine roots. Throughout
the year they supplement this vegetable diet with whatever
invertebrates, salamanders, snakes, rodents, and other small animals
they can root out or catch. Carrion and garbage are always welcome, too.
The wild boar, as classic an omnivore as his domestic cousin, will eat
almost anything.

Aside from the competition they give other masteaters in the critical
fall season, wild boars upset the ecological balance in additional ways.
Susan Bratton, research biologist with the National Park Service’s
Uplands Field Research Laboratory here in the Smokies, has made detailed
studies of boar damage. She found that in some areas boars had greatly
reduced the numbers of certain wildflowers, such as spring-beauty,
yellow adder’s-tongue, and wake-robin. Many other kinds of herbaceous
wildflower species in the park are known to have been eaten, uprooted,
or trampled. Wild boars also damage tree roots and seedlings, but
apparently avoid beeches, thus favoring the root sprouting of this
species. They root up grass sod on balds, which speeds the invasion of
balds by other herbaceous plants and trees and they cause soil erosion
by removing the plant cover. They also harm native species by preying on
those mentioned above and destroying the nests and eggs of
ground-nesting birds such as grouse and turkeys.

With such a list of black marks against the non-native wild boar, it
becomes readily apparent why the National Park Service is concerned
about its numbers in the park. Conventional methods of trapping and
directly reducing the boar population have limited their impact in
certain areas of the park. Unfortunately, because of the animal’s
tremendous reproductive capability the efforts are not successful in
reducing the total park population. The technology to completely
eradicate the boar from the park is not available at the present time.
Park Service research is now aimed at control methods. Estimates of the
boar population have ranged upward to 2,000. But no reliable method of
counting the boar in the park has yet been devised. University of
Tennessee research has indicated that there may be at least 1,000 boars
in the national park. Other estimates suggest there might be twice that
many. Wild boars can reproduce any month of the year and most females
bear a litter of from one to twelve piglets each year. And the wild boar
has few enemies in the park, although bears and bobcats may occasionally
take the young boars. With such a high reproductive potential, and so
few controlling agents, the wild boar population has reached a size that
severely alters and damages the park’s natural environment.

Contrast these population dynamics with those of a competing native
species, the black bear: Bears reproduce every other year, typically
giving birth to only two cubs. When the mast fails they may not
reproduce at all, apparently because the embryo does not implant, or is
resorbed, or the mother has insufficient milk to keep the young alive.
In some years, when bears wander out of the national park, many are
killed by hunters. Each year poaching within the park takes several
more. Hunting aside, bear populations became attuned to the supportive
capacity of the environment through centuries of adaptation. Wild boars
have been here only a few decades, far too short a time for the species
to be integrated into the total forest community.

As the wild boars multiply unchecked in the park, they damage ground
cover, inhibit tree reproduction, increase erosion, and decrease the
native animals with which they compete for food. Perhaps hardest hit are
black bears, squirrels, and those other species that in the fall depend
on the all-important acorn.


    [Illustration: Boars]

  The wild boar came to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  uninvited in the early 1920s. While its population remained small, the
  boar was not thought a menace. Since the 1960s however, it has become
  obvious that the boar constitutes an ecological disaster of great
  proportions. In feeding, the animals move together and root up the
  ground or a stream bed with unbelievable thoroughness.

  After boars have tackled a stretch of trout stream, it looks as though
  a bulldozer had churned it up. Presumably they seek aquatic insects,
  salamanders, and even a few small fish. Salamanders are among the
  park’s chief biological treasures, so the boars have not endeared
  themselves to those who are responsible for managing wildlife here in
  the park.

  Another biological prize in these mountains is the grass bald habitat.
  These energetic porkers were not slow to find balds a food source,
  ravenously digging for June beetle larvae. The grass bald survives
  only by the turf’s resistance to tree invasions, so the boar and its
  plowing threatens the existence of these unique, and as yet
  incompletely understood, grass balds that are both prizes and puzzles.

  Over the years it has been suggested that diverse species are directly
  threatened by the expanding boar population. These include
  ground-nesting birds, yellow adder’s-tongue and other wildflowers, and
  possibly deer and bear.

  Studies are underway to determine the extent of the boar’s damage, and
  hence the real threat they pose. But we have no good comparative
  figures on the populations of other species for the years before boars
  arrived. Despite this lack, it has not been difficult to brand the
  boar a villain. But to control them has not been so easy. In good
  years they thrive—and gobble up more park resources.

  There is a food preference relationship between turkeys, deer, bear,
  and boars in their mutual dependence on annual acorn and hickory nut
  crops. The widespread chestnut blight wiped out this dependable annual
  crop of nuts on which bears, deer, turkeys, and other animals fed in
  preparation for winter before the boars arrived. Now all these species
  compete—and the prolific boar is a lusty competitor—for a more
  uncertain acorn/hickory crop.

  Some would cast the boar as pure villain. Others would say that people
  are at fault for introducing the boar into this region as an exotic
  species. The sport of hunting was anticipated with relish but the
  consequences were not considered at all. The boars have now bred with
  domestic pigs to such an extent that the markings vary from animal to
  animal. Some show definite spots, others few or none at all. Wildlife
  artist George Founds, who drew the boars and bear on these pages, was
  once a guide in this region.

    [Illustration: The woodlands rooting of the boars is impossible to
    miss at trailside. A person could not do as well with ax and hoe—or
    power tiller!]

    [Illustration: The wild boar is winning the contest with park
    efforts to control it. Fewer than 200 are trapped or killed in a
    year, and even these are soon replaced by the boar’s high
    reproductive capabilities.]

    [Illustration: Piglets are born nearly naked, so the mother builds a
    nest for their first week of life.]


    [Illustration: Bear]

  Many admire the bear above all other park animals, associating it
  intimately with wilderness scenery. Not seeing a bear can be a
  disappointment. But bears are shy and secretive; about 95 percent
  never come near the roads here. You might be surprised that bears,
  classed as carnivores, are about 80 percent vegetarian. But they will
  eat almost anything.

  The sow will usually have two cubs every two years. They are born
  blind and hairless, no bigger than a young rabbit. In two months they
  will leave the den under the watchful, if indulgent, eye of a fiercely
  protective mother who is a stern disciplinarian. It is good training,
  for bears live by stealth and cunning as much as brute strength.
  (Scientists think bears may be almost as bright as primates.) Bears
  feed in summer on berries. In autumn they forage on hickory nuts and
  acorns to build fat reserves for the long winter they spend in the

  Bears are tree climbers (see note on denning below), especially if
  climbing brings food within reach. Bears have been observed bending
  small trees double. Many they will break to get at the fruit. They may
  climb out on branches to get at fruit, or break the branches off and
  consume the fruit on the ground.

    [Illustration: The relationship of a mother bear and her cubs can be
    fascinating to watch. Even hard-nosed biologists must quell the urge
    to describe this relationship in purely human terms! The
    relationship is best watched at a distance, however, because the
    mother is fiercely protective of her young. That protective instinct
    can prove dangerous for the unwary hiker or backpacker. Generally,
    however, bears will sense you first and avoid you entirely.]

    [Illustration: Cubs develop their strength and coordination in
    tumbling games of tag and wrestling. A cub is full grown at age 4. A
    bear is old by age 12. The park’s bear population varies from about
    400 to 600.]

    [Illustration: A few years ago it was discovered here in the Smokies
    that bear denning sites are frequently in hollow trees 6 to 15
    meters (20 to 50 feet) above the ground. Holes near the ground
    (photo) are not commonly used.]

    [Illustration: The intelligence of bears is often underrated. They
    seem to walk awkwardly, because their hindquarters are longer than
    their forelimbs, but they are agile and move rapidly.]

    [Illustration: _Imagine hewing your own home out of the surrounding
    woodlands with just a few hand tools. Such was the life of Smokies
    pioneers. Today you can peer into the past at the Pioneer Farmstead
    beside the Oconaluftee Visitor Center._]

                     The Tracks of Our Predecessors

Rocks rose out of the sea and became mountains. Plants clothed them and
animals lived among the plants, all evolving and changing over the
millions of years. A few thousand years ago, a dense green mantle of
giant trees covered the Smokies. Bears roamed the forest and bison
followed their ages-old trails across the mountains. Beavers built dams
across lowland streams, and meadows followed when the beavers moved on.
Elk and deer came out of the forest to feed in the meadows and cougars
and wolves hunted the elk and deer. It might have gone on this way for
even more thousands of years.

But then people came. First Indians, then settlers, then the lumber
companies. What was the impact of this new element, this two-legged
animal? How did the forest and its life change? Is it now returning to
its former state? In trying to answer these questions we may learn
something about the ecological role of people not only in the Smokies
but also in much of eastern North America, most of which resembled the
Smokies in its forest cover when people first arrived on the scene.

For at least several thousand years groups of humans have lived in the
lowlands around the Great Smokies. Use of the highlands themselves by
these earlier groups was probably limited, however. Our history of
peoples in the mountains begins with reports of explorers who visited
the Cherokees in the late 17th and 18th centuries. They found this
tribe, which is thought to have left the ancestral Iroquoian territory
and moved southward about the year 1000, dispersed in small villages
along foothill streams in a great arc around the Southern Appalachians.
Primarily an agricultural people, the Cherokees tended fields of corn,
squash, beans, melons, and tobacco around their thatched log cabins. But
they also hunted and fished, and gathered wild plant materials for both
food and trade. Although the mountains harbored spirits that were not
entirely friendly, the Cherokees camped in coves and gaps to hunt bear
and deer, to gather nuts and berries, and to gather stone for
implements. Early reports from the Smokies noted the large numbers of
deer, bear, and beaver skins being traded by the Cherokees. Quite
possibly, they set fire to attract game and promote the growth of berry
bushes, thus creating some of the mysterious grass balds atop the
Smokies. For purposes of trade and warfare they established trails
through the mountains. Such a trail across Indian Gap remained the
principal cross-mountain route until early this century.

What effect did all this have on the tapestry of life in the mountains?
Undoubtedly the Cherokees increased the area of open land, although some
of their cropland might have been established on old beaver meadows.
They may also have reduced the numbers of game and fur animals, although
18th-century travelers in the region still could be amazed at the
abundance of deer, bison, beaver, cougars, and other animals. No species
except the bison is known to have disappeared during the years the
Cherokees had sole dominion over the land, and they may have contributed
in some way to this one loss. With relatively small numbers in the
Smokies, and a lack of highly destructive implements, especially guns,
the Cherokees apparently changed the ecological picture only slightly in
the days before contact with Europeans.

In the 1790s settlers, legally or illegally, began taking over former
Cherokee land in the Smokies, beginning with two of the broader lowland
valleys, the Oconaluftee and Cades Cove. As the Cherokees yielded more
and more land, by treaty or to theft, settlement by the new Americans
proceeded up other valleys, until by 1826 almost every watershed was
occupied by at least a few families. Clearing and occupation of land
continued through the 19th century, the largest concentrations
developing in the Sugarlands (along the West Prong of Little Pigeon
River), Greenbrier Cove, and Cataloochee, in addition to the earliest
areas of settlement. In 1926, when land buying for the newly authorized
park began, there were 1,200 farms and 7,300 people within the park
boundaries. By this time, however, farming in the Smokies had passed its

By contrast with earlier Indian inhabitants, the farmers had
considerable impact on the land. Most obvious was the removal of forest
to make homesites, cropland, and pastures. By 1902, eight percent of the
land on the Tennessee side of the Smokies and seven percent on the North
Carolina side had been cleared. As settlement proceeded up a hollow
farmers were confronted with steeper and steeper slopes. The inevitable
results of trying to raise corn on the sides of mountains were rapid
loss of fertility and then of the soil itself, as the heavy rains
leached out nutrients and washed away first the humus and then the
mineral soil beneath. In this wilderness where virgin land was still
abundant, many mountaineers simply cleared a new patch when the old one
gave out. Horace Kephart, a midwesterner who lived among such farmers on
the North Carolina side early in the 20th century, recorded their
approach to cultivation. They would clear land and get out two or three
crops of corn.

“When corn won’t grow no more I can turn the field into grass a couple
of years,” Kephart’s informant says.

“Then you’ll rotate, and grow corn again?” Kephart asks, a bit

“La, no! By that time the land will be so poor hit wouldn’t raise a

“But then you must move, and begin all over again.” Kephart counters.
“This continual moving must be a great nuisance.”

Kephart overstates the case, however, because most stayed in one house
for two to three generations, or about 50 to 75 years.

Clearing and the erosion that sometimes followed were relatively local
and distinct effects of settlement. Uses of uncleared forest land had
widespread, but more subtle, effects. Selected white pines and
yellow-poplars were cut for lumber; oaks for shingles; and hickories
mostly for firewood. Other species were put to less important,
miscellaneous uses. Many plants were collected for food and dyes or for
medicinal purposes. Ginseng, which has a forked root highly prized in
China for its supposed medicinal and aphrodisiac values, was nearly
eliminated by eager “sang” diggers who sold the roots for export.
Probably even more pervasive was the influence of livestock. Hogs, and
sometimes cattle and sheep, were allowed to roam the forests, grazing,
browsing, and rooting for a living. Mast—acorns, chestnuts, and
beechnuts—formed an important part of the diet of hogs, but these
omnivorous creatures ate all sorts of plants and small animals. As
anyone knows who has observed a grazed woodlot, livestock can quickly
impoverish the ground and shrub layers of a forest. Grazing and
browsing, along with use of fire, prevented the return of forest to the
grass balds. All these uses of the forest undoubtedly changed the
proportions of many tree and lesser plant species in the total forest
composition. Precisely how much they did so cannot now be determined.

The impact of settlement on certain wildlife species is more easily
seen. Elk disappeared about the time the earliest pioneers moved in. The
beaver, an easily trapped animal, was nearly gone by the end of the 19th
century. Wolves and cougars, hunted because they sometimes killed
livestock—and uncomfortable in the presence of people—followed soon
after. Deer, bear, and turkey persisted but in much-reduced numbers,
with the bears retreating to rough, wild country in the central heights.
Smaller animals fared better, although such hunted species as raccoon,
opossum, and gray squirrel perhaps suffered some reduction.

About 1900 a new era began, bringing the greatest shock yet to Great
Smokies ecosystems. Large lumber companies, having logged off the big
timber of New England and the Great lakes states, turned their attention
to the virgin stands of the Southern Appalachians. Setting up sawmills
at the fringes of the mountains, they rapidly worked their way up the
coves, just as Cherokees and settlers had done before them. Railroads,
built to carry logs to the mills, were extended upstream as cutting
progressed. In some watersheds, such as those of the Little River, Big
Creek, and the Oconaluftee, nearly all species of trees were taken. In
others, such as Abrams Creek, West Prong of the Little Pigeon, and
Cataloochee, cutting was selective. By the late 1920s, logging, added to
settlement practices, had at least partially cleared more than 60
percent of the land in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Though for a time it proved an economic boon, logging was easily the
most destructive form of land use the region was ever subjected to. The
removal of forest cover and the skidding of logs down steep
mountainsides caused widespread erosion. This weakened the foundation
for regrowth and clogged streams with sediment, thereby reducing their
quality for sustaining aquatic life. In the wake of logging came forest
fires, probably the worst these mountains have seen. Heaps of dried
branches trimmed from logs made perfect tinder for fires started by
engine sparks, careless matches, or lightning strikes. In the 1920s
disastrous fires roared up the East Prong of Little River, up Forney
Creek to Clingmans Dome, and over the slopes around Charlies Bunion.
Scars from some of these fires have still not healed today.

What was the net biological effect of the presence of people in the
mountains in 1926, the year Congress authorized Great Smoky Mountains
National Park? Broadly speaking, the forest and its animals had been
diminished but the plants and animals of grassland and brush had
increased. The gray wolf was gone but the meadowlark had arrived. In
1930 the American people inherited lands that were still about 40
percent virgin forest, the largest such chunk of forest left in the
East. The rest of the park was a patchwork of uncut forest, young second
growth, and openings dotted with houses and barns and fringed with stone
walls and fences. The park therefore preserved much of the primeval
splendor of the Smokies, but the activities of people would long remain
visible in it, and some of these would deliberately be maintained as
part of the region’s historical heritage.

Today most of the former fields, except those such as Cades Cove that
are purposely kept open, have returned to forest. But it is still easy
to recognize these grown-over fields by the types of trees on them. Many
bear a nearly solid stand of straight-stemmed yellow-poplars. Others are
marked by a dense growth of pines. Dr. Randolph Shields, who grew up in
Cades Cove and became chairman of the biology department at nearby
Maryville College, has watched the plant succession on old fields in the
Cove since about 1930. He has found there that pines usually are the
first trees to spring up among the grasses, herbs, and blackberries and
other shrubs that follow field abandonment. On moist ground,
yellow-poplars usually come up under the pines, but sometimes hemlock
and white pine form a second tree stage under the pioneering Virginia or
pitch pines. Where yellow-poplars come in, they usually shade out the
light-loving pines in about 40 years. Gradually the many species of the
cove forest become established under the yellow-poplars, presaging the
mixed stand of big trees that will complete the cycle initiated by
clearing the land. On the drier slopes it may take about 100 years for
the pines to be shaded out by the red maples, oaks, and hickories that
eventually become dominant in such areas.

As you might expect, animal life changes with the progression of plant
succession. Meadowlarks, bobwhites, woodchucks, and cottontails are
replaced by red-eyed vireos, wood thrushes, chipmunks, and white-footed
mice as grassland and shrubs give way to forest. With age and woodpecker
activity, tree cavities develop in the forest, providing homes for an
additional complement of animals such as screech owls, flying squirrels,
raccoons, bears, and opossums.

Under the protection accorded by its designation as a national park
several animals have made a dramatic comeback in the Smokies. Bears once
again roam the entire mountain area. Turkeys are frequently seen in such
places as Cades Cove, where openings break the mantle of forest. In
recent years sporadic beaver activity has been noted in the park. Even
cougars are occasionally reported, although their presence has not been
conclusively established. But wolves, elk, and bison—animals that
symbolize the Indian’s America—probably cannot be brought back.

Nature again reigns supreme in the Smokies. We may never see here the
numbers of wildlife that surprised the first explorers, but we can see
remnants of the giant-treed forests that greeted them, and we can marvel
at the undulating expanse of green, a beautiful suggestion of the vast
hardwood forest that once cloaked eastern America.

                           Mountain Lifeways

    [Illustration: Milas Messer dresses or curries a hide in the drying
    shed at his farm on Cove Creek.]

  A great part of the Great Smokies story is the story of men and women
  making their homes in these wooded eastern mountains. With few tools
  and even fewer manufactured fixtures and fasteners, pioneers settled
  in and became mountaineers.

  Industry—hard work, that is—and ingenuity came in handy. Many aspects
  of these traits are illustrated in this section through historic
  photographs of men and women going about their business in the
  Smokies. It was not all hard work, but even the play often exhibited
  these folk’s ingenuity in turning the things of field and forest into
  implements of recreation.

  For more insight into the lives of Smokies people, see the National
  Park Service book, _Highland Homeland: The People of the Great
  Smokies_, by Wilma Dykeman and Jim Stokely. It is sold in the park
  visitor centers and by mail (see “Armchair Explorations” on page 125).

    [Illustration: Fitting barrel to stock]

    [Illustration: _Chiseling a tub mill wheel_]

    [Illustration: _Coopering_]

    [Illustration: Interior of a mill]

    [Illustration: Hauling wood]

    [Illustration: Beekeeping]

    [Illustration: Rolling sorghum cane]

    [Illustration: Repairing a hauling sled]

    [Illustration: Splitting shingles]

    [Illustration: Hog butchering]

    [Illustration: Scrubbing a hide]

    [Illustration: Shaving barrel staves]

    [Illustration: Gunsmithing]

    [Illustration: Basket weaving]

    [Illustration: Blacksmithing]

    [Illustration: Mountain laundry]

    [Illustration: Churning butter]

    [Illustration: Carding wool]

    [Illustration: Weaving yarn into cloth]

    [Illustration: Ginning cotton]

    [Illustration: Making baskets]

    [Illustration: Wash day]


    [Illustration: Pioneer Farmstead]

  What kind of people were the Smokies pioneers? Part of the answer
  awaits you at the Pioneer Farmstead next to the Oconaluftee Visitor
  Center on the North Carolina side of the park. The farmstead buildings
  suggest an independent people who were hardworking, laboring spring,
  summer, and fall to prepare for the coming winter.

  This is a typical Southern Appalachian pioneer farm. The life style of
  earlier years is demonstrated by people in period dress here from May
  through October. A few animals roam the farm-yard and the garden
  produces traditional crops. In the fall sorghum cane may be pressed to
  make sorghum molasses. Inside the cabin—you can poke your head through
  its open doors and windows—traditional breads may be baking, or a
  quilt be patching, or wool a-spinning. And don’t forget to notice the
  fieldstone chimneys, the squared logs’ careful notchings, and the
  handsplit wooden “shakes” up on the roof.

    [Illustration: Field work]

Just up the road is Mingus Mill, an excellent example of a
turbine-powered gristmill. A miller is often on hand May through October
to answer your questions about how waterpower was used to produce
cornmeal and flour. You might even be able to purchase some of the
cornmeal or the flour ground right at the mill. Wheat is harder than
corn and requires harder stone to grind it. Millstones for grinding
wheat in this area were imported from France. The stones used for
grinding corn were cut domestically.

    [Illustration: Wheelwright]

    [Illustration: Chicken]

A commercial mill the size of Mingus Mill would generally be built by a
specially skilled carpenter known as a millwright, a term which has
taken broader meaning today.

                               Cades Cove

    [Illustration: Cades Cove]

  Cades Cove preserves the image of the early settlers’ self-sufficient
  life style in the Smokies. It was not all romance. Cades Cove itself
  is expansive, level, idyllic farmland, which hardly describes most of
  the Smokies. Cades Cove is today an open air museum. Here are the
  beautifully restored and picturesque Elijah Oliver cabin; the
  still-operated Cable Mill grinding flour with water power; and
  numerous churches, houses, and cabins. At Cable Mill are many
  artifacts of past agricultural practices from throughout the Smokies.
  The largely self-sufficient agricultural economy here came to an end
  with the advent of logging about 1900.

    [Illustration: Spinning]

    [Illustration: Church building and graveyard]

By 1920, most Smokies residents were linked to a cash economy, to
manufactured items and store-bought foods. But Cades Cove preserves
glimpses of the pioneer ingenuity that wrested a living from the
landscape. Preserved with the cabins here are many ingenious devices
such as effective door latches simply fashioned from local wood.

In 1850 Cades Cove supported 685 people in 132 families. Most originally
came from Virginia via routes followed today by Interstate 81 and U.S.
411. A treaty in 1819 transferred the Cades Cove from Cherokee to State
of Tennessee ownership. Settlers traded in what is now Townsend, and in
Maryville and Knoxville.

A delightful 18-kilometer (11-mile) one-way loop road unfolds the quiet
pleasures of Cades Cove to you. This is a popular route with bikers
because it is so scenic—and not so arduous. Periodically the loop road
is closed to motor vehicles for the sake of bicyclists. Early farmers
were quick to appreciate the same level aspect of the cove that appeals
to today’s cyclist.

    [Illustration: Barn and wagon]

                            Cherokee Indians

    [Illustration: Lacrosse field]

  The Cherokee nation was settled in the shadow of the Smokies. “The
  place of the blue smoke,” they called the mountains in their
  heartland, and so the Smokies have become named. Myth, ritual, and
  religion bound the Cherokees closely to the land. Ironically, they
  enjoyed a sophisticated culture very similar to the white culture that
  would so cruelly supplant them. They were agrarian and democratic, and
  they believed in one god. They lived in mud-and-log cabins, women
  sharing tribal governance, and men sharing household duties.

    [Illustration: Family and cabin]

    [Illustration: Basketmaking]

The Cherokees rapidly adopted governmental features of the invading
culture. They adopted a written legal code in 1808. Within a dozen years
they had divided their nation into judicial districts with designated
judges. Two years later they had established the Supreme Court of the
feat. Within just two years of its adoption, _The Cherokee Phoenix_
newspaper was published and most Cherokee-speakers could read and write!
But the white people had an insatiable appetite for land. Treaty after
treaty was made and broken. The fatal blow was the discovery of gold in
1828 near the Cherokee villages in northern Georgia. Within a few years
all their land was confiscated. The infamous “Trail of Tears” came with
passage of the 1830 Removal Act.

    [Illustration: Woman]

Some 13,000 Cherokees were forced to march to Oklahoma: 25 percent died
en route. Not all left, however, and some soon returned. Today the
eastern band of Cherokees lives on the Cherokee Reservation on the
park’s North Carolina side.

                         3    Guide and Adviser

    [Illustration: _The Cades Cove loop drive is reserved for bicyclists
    certain hours each week. Its level demeanor looks like heaven if you
    have biked across the mountains._]

    [Illustration: _A low sun casts fencepost shadows on a Cades Cove
    road. The relatively flat cove was premium farmland. Geologically,
    the cove floor is limestone, younger than the rocks forming
    surrounding ridges. The Rich Mountain mass skidded across what is
    now the cove as the Smokies range was being formed._]

                  Guide and Adviser Topical Reference

  Going to the Great Smokies   101
  Map   102
  Visitor Centers   104
  The Smokies by Car   107
  Wildflowers and Fall Colors   110
  Activities   112
  Hiking and Backpacking   114
  Accommodations   118
  For Your Safety   120
  Nearby Attractions   122
  Books to Read   125
  Index   126

                       Going to the Great Smokies

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the North
Carolina-Tennessee boundary for about 110 kilometers (70 miles). It is
accessible by car from the Interstate highways encircling it as they
connect the Tennessee cities of Knoxville and Chattanooga with
Asheville, North Carolina; Greenville, South Carolina; and Atlanta,
Georgia. The Blue Ridge Parkway reaches its southern terminus here on
the park’s North Carolina side. Major gateways to the park are Cherokee
and Bryson City, North Carolina, and the cities of Pigeon Forge,
Gatlinburg, Townsend, and Cosby, in Tennessee. These urban areas with
their tourist services are connected by Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441),
the only park road that crosses the mountains. It is closed to
commercial vehicles.

The National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, is
responsible for the management of the park. The superintendent’s address
is Gatlinburg, Tennessee 37738. Telephone (615) 436-5615. Park
headquarters is located 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) south of Gatlinburg, on
the Newfound Gap Road.

Maps, guides, and information on routes, points of interest,
accommodations, and services are available from several sources. For a
Tennessee highway map write to the Department of Transportation,
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0349, or telephone (615) 741-2331. For
Tennessee vacation information write to Department of Tourist
Development, P.O. Box 23170, Nashville, Tennessee 37202, or telephone
(615) 741-2158.

For a North Carolina highway map write to Travel and Tourism Division,
430 No. Salisbury, Raleigh, North Carolina 27603, or telephone (919)
733-4171. The division distributes several brochures on North Carolina
vacations, recreation, and special events; specify your interest in the
Smokies. The _North Carolina Outdoors_ booklet lists areas and
facilities, including private campgrounds, keyed to the official highway

                                Park Map

          [Illustration: Great Smoky Mountains National Park]

Chambers of commerce offer trip information:

  Pigeon Forge Chamber of Commerce
  P.O. Box 1390
  Pigeon Forge, Tennessee 37868
  800-251-9100 or (615) 453-8574.

  Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce
  P.O. Box 527
  Gatlinburg, Tennessee 37738
  800-822-1998 or (615) 436-4178.

  Townsend Chamber of Commerce
  Townsend, Tennessee 37882.

  Cosby Chamber of Commerce
  Cosby, Tennessee 37722.

  Cherokee Chamber of Commerce
  P.O. Box 460
  Cherokee, North Carolina 28719
  (704) 497-9195.

  Bryson City Chamber of Commerce
  Bryson City, North Carolina 28713
  (704) 488-3681.

Lodging and supplies are available in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg,
Sevierville, Townsend, Maryville, Bryson City, Cherokee, and other
Tennessee and North Carolina towns surrounding the park. No public
transportation serves the national park. Major airlines serve Knoxville,
Tennessee and Asheville, North Carolina, where cars may be rented.

                            Visitor Centers

National Park Service Visitor Centers are located just inside the park
on both the North Carolina and Tennessee sides. On the Tennessee side
the Sugarlands Visitor Center is 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) south of
Gatlinburg. The Cades Cove Visitor Center (closed in winter) is located
in the Cable Mill area of the Cades Cove Loop Road. On the North
Carolina side the Oconaluftee Visitor Center is 3.2 kilometers (2 miles)
north of Cherokee.

If you plan to be in the park just a few hours or up to several days,
you will do yourself a favor by checking out a visitor center. Museum
displays give you a quick and interesting insight into both nature and
history in the park. At Sugarlands there is a free movie. Books, maps,
and other publications are offered for sale in the visitor centers and
free park folders are available. These resources—and the people working
the information desks—can help you plan your stay in the park within the
time limits you must meet.

The Great Smokies is a large park whose diverse features are separated
by significant driving times. Park employees can help you use your time
to best advantage.

Visitor centers also offer restroom facilities, drinking water, and a
mail drop and they sell film for your convenience. Here you can get
backpacking information and apply for a backcountry use permit. (See
section on Backcountry Use.) Visitor center bulletin boards carry
information on road conditions, urgent contact requests, and
interpretive programs.

Visitor centers are open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the winter, with
extended hours of operation in the spring, summer, and fall. The Cades
Cove Visitor Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from mid-April to late

                         Interpretive Programs

Guided walks and evening programs are conducted by the National Park
Service throughout the park. Most of these start or take place at the
visitor centers and at campground amphitheaters. The uniformed park
employees who render these services are trained in the natural history
and/or history of the Great Smokies. They give you excellent vignettes
of the park’s nature and its historical period of Indian and mountaineer
life and the opportunity to ask questions. You, for instance, might
enjoy a short nature walk up a burbling Smokies stream and so learn
about the more than 1,100 kilometers (700 miles) of streams in the park.
Schedules of these activities and programs are posted at the visitor
centers and on campground bulletin boards. A copy of the schedule is in
_Guide to Great Smoky Mountains National Park_, which is available free
at any visitor center, ranger station, or campground.

    [Illustration: _Sugarlands Visitor Center (above) in Tennessee and
    Oconaluftee Visitor Center in North Carolina (below), are the best
    places to begin your park trip. Exhibits explain the natural and
    human history of the Great Smokies. A free park folder is available,
    books and maps are sold, and you can check the posted schedule of
    activities being offered._]

    [Illustration: Oconaluftee Visitor Center]

Live demonstrations of mountain life skills and folkways are also
provided periodically (spring through October) at places such as the
Pioneer Farmstead beside the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and the nearby
Mingus Mill, or at the Cable Mill in Cades Cove. You even might be able
to buy cornmeal freshly ground just as it was a century or more ago.

Self-guiding nature trails have been laid out throughout the park. Look
for these marked trails near campgrounds, visitor centers, and picnic
areas. Most are easy walks of 1.5 kilometers (a mile) or less which take
you through former farmsteads now returning to forest, groves of the
world-famous cove hardwoods, reclaimed logged-over lands, or other
aspects of the park. Trails are well marked and seldom difficult. At the
trail’s start look for a container offering a descriptive brochure for
sale on the honor system.

Two self-guiding motor nature trails lead you through impressive areas
of the park in the comfort and convenience of your own vehicle. Near
Gatlinburg, off the Cherokee Orchard Road, is the Roaring Fork Motor
Nature Trail. Its scenic route takes you by several restored pioneer
buildings. The Cades Cove Loop Road is an 18-kilometer (11-mile) drive
through the pleasant scenery of Cades Cove. Here you get pleasant vistas
out across the cove where you may well see deer grazing against a
mountain backdrop. The fields recall the rural scene of many years ago.
A brochure available at the start of the loop describes points along the
way that are designated by numbered signs. At several points you can
park your car and visit preserved farm structures, both log and frame,
and churches and cemeteries. Partway through the loop is a small visitor
center and the restored Cable Mill. Associated restored buildings here
display farm implements once used for valley and mountain farming in
this region.

Guided interpretive programs are offered largely in summer. Check the
current schedule at the visitor centers or on campground bulletin

Evening campground programs offer interesting free family entertainment.
Try the many interpretive programs offered at park campgrounds in the
evenings throughout the week. Check bulletin boards for the schedules.

The three most often asked questions in the park are: Where can I fish?
Where can I camp? and What about the bears? Some evening programs cover
the bears in detail and you will learn about unusual denning habits in
the Smokies. All evening programs are offered for the general public by
trained National Park Service interpreters. You will enjoy them no
matter how much, or how little, you know about the topic. And you are
free to ask questions, knowing they will be taken seriously.

Evening programs cover such topics as the pioneer life, wildlife,
hiking, and the incredible botanical story of the Smokies. There are
programs on the “preserve and protect” philosophy of how the park is
managed, and exploring the park. For the adventurous there are “night
prowls,” guided experiences after dark to sample the sights, sounds, and
odors of the night forest.

Quiet walkways provide short walks on easy grades. They usually begin at
parking areas that accommodate no more than two cars, so crowds are
excluded. This is a nice way to experience the naturalness of the
Smokies in walks not exceeding 0.5 kilometers (0.3 miles).

                           The Smokies by Car

    [Illustration: _They still grind corn sometimes by the old
    water-driven methods at the restored Mingus Mill, just up the road
    from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center._]

    [Illustration: _But school’s in session at Little Greenbrier only
    for the sake of people who come to the park to see what life was
    like in the Smokies a couple of generations back. These living
    history demonstrations are sometimes offered in summer at various
    parts of the park. Check schedules at a visitor center or

A few comments may save time and open new vistas for your driving in the
Smokies. Within just an hour’s drive of each other here are climatic
differences created by elevation. You can drive through the spruce-fir
forests typical of Maine up near Clingmans Dome in late morning and be
driving through lush southern hardwoods back near Sugarlands or
Oconaluftee in early afternoon.

The roads are designed for scenic driving. There are numerous turnouts
and parking areas at viewpoints or historic sites.

Traffic, winding roads, and the scenery conspire to making driving time
more important than distance here in the park. Figure about twice the
time to drive a given distance that you would for normal highways. Be on
the alert for unexpected driving behavior from others—they may be under
the influence of the scenery! Gasoline is not sold in the park, so check
your gauge. Remember that winter storms may close the Newfound Gap and
Little River Roads.

The main road in the park is the Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) between
Gatlinburg and Cherokee. It is the only road across the mountains. Along
it and at the Newfound Gap Parking Area you will get some of the best
scenic high-mountain vistas in the park—and on the East Coast, for that
matter. If you want to go still higher you can drive up the Clingmans
Dome Road from Newfound Gap and walk up to the observation tower. Here
you are at the highest point in the national park, and the third highest
east of the Rockies. The reward is a 360-degree panorama of the sea of
peaks for which the Smokies (and Natahalas and Unakas and ...) are
famous. Clingmans Dome Road is a deadend spur off the Newfound Gap Road
at the crest of the Smokies.

If you want to sample the Blue Ridge Parkway and also enjoy some
beautiful mountain scenery from right up in it, try the Balsam Mountain
Road, which leaves the parkway between Oconaluftee and Soco Gap. It
winds for 14.5 kilometers (9 miles) back into the national park’s Balsam
Mountain Campground. Incredible azalea displays will dazzle you here in
season. If you are adventurous and want to try a mountain dirt road,
continue past the campground to the Heintooga Picnic Area and the start
of the Round Bottom Road (closed during winter). This is a
22.5-kilometer (14-mile), partially one-way, unpaved road that descends
the mountain to the river valley below and joins the Big Cove Road in
the Cherokee Indian Reservation. You come out right below Oconaluftee at
the edge of the park.

Another view of the Smokies awaits you along the Little River Road
leading from Sugarlands to Cades Cove. The road lies on the old logging
railroad bed for a distance along the Little River. (The curves suggest
these were not fast trains!) Spur roads lead off to Elkmont and Tremont
deeper in the park, and to Townsend and Wear Cove, towns outside the
park. Little River Road becomes the Laurel Creek Road and takes you on
into Cades Cove where you can take the one-way 18-kilometer (11-mile)
loop drive and observe the historic mountain setting of early settlers.
If you are returning to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge from Cades Cove, try
exiting the park toward Townsend and driving the beautiful Wear Cove
Road back to U.S. 441 at the north end of Pigeon Forge.

Perhaps the most bucolic scenes in the Smokies are to be seen from the
Foothills Parkway between Interstate 40 and Route 32 near Cosby, around
the northeast tip of the park. Here you look out across beautiful
farmland with the whole mass of the Smokies rising as its backdrop.

Other interesting drives in the park are the Rich Mountain Road, Parsons
Branch Road (both closed in winter), and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature
Trail. At the west end of the park there is another section of the
Foothills Parkway between Chilhowee and Walland. The parkway is
administered by the National Park Service. A small leaflet, “Auto
Touring,” is available for a small charge at any of the three visitor

                      Mountain People and Folkways

Right beside the Oconaluftee Visitor Center as you enter the North
Carolina side of the park is the Pioneer Farmstead, a restored small
farm along the Oconaluftee River. As you leave the visitor center headed
toward the mountains, Mingus Mill Parking Area soon appears on your
left. The turbine-powered gristmill used water power to grind cornmeal
and flour. Its millrace leaves a lively creek and spills toward the mill
under arching mountain-laurel. Stones used to grind wheat came from
France. Cornmeal stones were of local origin. Mingus Mill is open from
May through October and a miller is usually on hand to answer your

On the North Carolina side of the park limited restored structures are
also found at Cataloochee.

The Cable Mill area in Cades Cove presents the largest group of restored
structures on the Tennessee side of the park. Farming is still permitted
in Cades Cove itself to preserve the open fields of the rural scene
there. The 18-kilometer (11-mile) loop drive through Cades Cove takes
you by numerous log and frame structures. The Elijah Oliver place is a
particularly beautiful log structure with outbuildings in a cozy, shaded
setting. The stream flowing through Elijah Oliver’s springhouse once
kept his milk supply cool.

    [Illustration: _Ranger-led walks and evening campfire programs can
    be highlights of your park trip._]

Other pioneer structures include the Little Greenbrier School off Little
River Road and cabins and houses along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature
Trail. Close scrutiny of the many log structures shows subtle variations
in notching and other details.

Living history demonstrations are offered in season at Cades Cove,
Mingus Mill, and the Pioneer Farmstead. Check the visitor center and
campground bulletin boards for schedules. These may include craft
demonstrations and concerts of traditional mountain music. A “Mountain
People” leaflet is available for a small charge at any of the park’s
visitor centers.

                       Wildflowers and Fall Colors

With abundant warm sunshine and frequent rainfall it is no surprise that
about 200 species of showy wildflowers bloom in the Smokies. They begin
in March and last until about November. Spring comes to mind when most
of us think about flowers, but practically the whole year has something
to offer. Spring seems to burst with flowers as they take advantage of
good conditions for a short period between the cold of winter and the
shade of summer, when full foliage blocks sunlight from the forest

Bloom dates depend on the weather and can vary from year to year. Here
are recommended dates to guide you: Dogwood and redbud, mid- to
late-April; spring flowers, late March to mid-May; mountain-laurel and
flame azalea, May and June; Catawba rhododendron, mid-June; and rosebay
rhododendron, June and July.

Springtime flowers are trilliums, phacelia, violets, lady’s-slippers,
jack-in-the-pulpits, and showy orchis. There are familiar exotic
(non-native) species too, such as the dandelion. (In the Smokies exotics
are generally flowers of field and not of forest.) Goldenrod, ironweed,
and asters bloom in late September to early October.

In August you may see wild clematis, yellow-fringed orchis, bee-balm,
cardinal-flower, monkshood, and blue gentian.

Many flowers grow along park roadsides. Other good locations to see them
are along quiet walkways and on designated nature trails throughout the
park. See photographs of flowering shrubs and wildflowers on pages

Fall colors generally peak between October 15 and 25. The presence of
hardwood species usually associated with more northerly climes makes the
autumn leaves here the more spectacular. Up and down the mountain the
brilliant reds of maples, the golden yellow of beech, and the deeper
hues of oaks and more southerly species blend spectacularly. Fall color
is the result of the breakdown of green chlorophyll in deciduous leaves.
Yellow and brown pigments present all summer now become prominent. Red
colors are produced when sugars are trapped in the sap of the leaves.

    [Illustration: _Spring and fall bursts of color are annual drawing
    cards in the Smokies. As the seasons progress, fall colors descend
    the mountains and spring colors “climb” upwards._]

    [Illustration: Dogwood in bloom]

If you don’t mind chilly nights this can be great camping weather, and a
generally pleasant time of year here. Keep in mind that the traffic is
particularly heavy in the park during the fall foliage season,
especially on weekends.

A leaflet “Forests and Wildflowers” is available from any park visitor
center for a small charge.


                            Horseback Riding

The park has many kilometers of horse trails and this is considered some
of the finest riding country in the East. If you have your own horses
and want to use them in the Smokies, write to the superintendent and
request the “Great Smoky Mountains Trail Map” folder and other current
information on horse use in the park. The folder provides basic
information on sites and regulations and indicates horse trails. The
regulations are designed to minimize the environmental impact of stock.

If you don’t own a horse, don’t worry. You can rent one from a
concessioner by the hour, half day, day, or overnight at five locations
in the park: Cades Cove, Cosby, Dudley Creek, Smokemont, and Sugarlands.
The National Park Service requires the concessioner to send a guide with
all horse parties; this service is included in the basic rental rate.
For overnight trips you must bring your own food. Saddlebags and shelter
are provided.

If you want to experience a more traditional “outfitted” horseback trip,
write to area chambers of commerce for names of commercial outfitters.


The best place to bike in the Smokies is Cades Cove. If you don’t arrive
on your own bike or carry it on your car, you can rent one from the
concessioner there, except in winter. The 18-kilometer (11-mile) loop
road is a paved, generally level-to-rolling one-way country road around
the cove. It takes you by restored pioneer and settlers’ structures,
both log and frame.

    [Illustration: Fishing Smokies streams and rivers and the nearby TVA
    lakes is a popular pastime. Most sought after in the park are
    rainbow and brown trout.]

    [Illustration: Pictured here is the brook trout. Please take a good
    look because possession of any brook trout is prohibited in the

Along the way are many pleasant streams, hiking trail access points,
wooded stretches, and the Cable Mill area with a small visitor center.
The scenery is nothing if not glorious. You look out across the rolling,
open meadow to the mountains. And you may see herds of deer grazing. In
summer bikers have the loop road to themselves—no cars allowed—on
Saturday mornings until 10 a.m.

Biking conditions elsewhere in the park are not generally good. The
Newfound Gap Road is steep, winding, crushingly long, and can be full of
traffic. Other park roads tend to be winding and narrow as well.

The Cades Cove bicycle concession is located at the campground.


The Smokies offer a chance to fish in rushing mountain streams and
rivers. Of the 70 or so kinds of fish in the park, those that can be
fished for are smallmouth bass, rock bass, and rainbow and brown trout.
The native brook trout is protected and its waters are closed to
fishing. Rainbows and brown trout are non-native species and are managed
to provide sustained-yield fishing.

With a valid Tennessee or North Carolina license you may fish open park
waters from sunrise to sunset. A license is required for all persons 13
years of age and older in Tennessee and 16 years of age and older in
North Carolina. Buy licenses in nearby towns. Fishing with bait is
prohibited. Only single-hook artificial lures may be used. Possession
and size limits may vary with stream and species of fish, so check
before you fish. In general, _the possession of any brook trout is
prohibited_. The National Park Service hopes to restore some native
brook trout waters encroached upon by introduced brown and rainbow

Local regulations are posted on streams and can be obtained at any park
ranger station or visitor center. Or write to the park superintendent in
advance of your trip.

                          Birding the Smokies

The variety of birds here is striking. A one-day count throughout the
park and vicinity in winter will net more than 50 species even in a bad
year. More than 20 warblers are considered to breed within the park, and
nearly 30 members of the finch family have been reported here. Geese and
ducks number nearly 20 species, but are not often seen. Craggy mountain
heights provide ideal habitat for ravens, some hawks, and occasional
migrating peregrine falcons. Eagles and falcons are only occasionally,
or rarely, seen, but the mere possibility is exciting. If you are
interested in finding a particular bird or good birding places, check at
a visitor center. Some birds are only seasonal residents or visitors of
the park.

Serious birders will want to see a copy of the bird checklist. Free
copies are available at visitor centers.

                         Hiking and Backpacking

                           A Hiker’s Paradise

The fact that the National Park Service maintains 1,450 kilometers (900
miles) of trails says something about the Smokies and hiking: it’s an
East Coast hiker’s paradise. Trails come in all lengths and levels of
difficulty, for the handicapped, children, super-athletes, old folks,
day hikers, and long-distance backpackers. The latter of course means
the Appalachian Trail, which threads the Smokies crest on its way from
Maine to Georgia. More on the AT below.

The intimacy of the Smokies wilderness surprises many who are attracted
by the stunning mountain scenery. This intimacy, best seen afoot, is all
but missed from your vehicle. So is the mood set by wildflowers,
cascading streams, birdsong, and the fragrance of fir trees so startling
in the Southeast. Hiking trails give access to waterfalls such as
Juneywhank, Abrams, Hen Wallow, and Ramsay Cascades. A leaflet, “Streams
and Waterfalls,” is available at visitor centers for a small charge.

On sale at visitor centers you will find copies of the National Park
Service’s “Great Smoky Mountains Trail Map” folder. It has up-to-date
information and a shaded relief map of trails and popular trailheads in
the park. Detailed trail descriptions are found in the Sierra Club
Totebook, _Hiker’s Guide to the Smokies_, sold at visitor centers and in
area book and outdoor equipment stores.

    [Illustration: _From mountain balds (above) to rocky canyon ledges
    (below), Smokies trails introduce you to aspects of the park
    invisible to motorists. Afoot, you experience the intimacy of
    natural detail that makes the Smokies internationally renowned._]

    [Illustration: Hiker on mountain ledge]

You will want to wear comfortable, non-slip shoes whether you go out for
a half-hour or a day. And you must expect variable weather,
characteristic of the Smokies. Abundant rainfall can materialize quickly
on a day which began so clear just hours ago. A light poncho or other
rain gear is handy. Make sure you will be warm enough, too. (See
“Hypothermia and Winter Warnings.”) Days that are warm at Sugarlands or
Oconaluftee can be very cold if rain and wind catch you at higher

    [Illustration: _All overnight camping except in established park
    campgrounds requires a free backcountry use permit. The permit
    system assures you and your party an appropriate measure of solitude
    in the backcountry._]

    [Illustration: _No matter where you camp in the park, you must be
    fully prepared for rainy weather._]

Attractions shift with the seasons in the Smokies. The best way to meld
your own interests with current attractions for a pleasant hike is to
seek advice at a visitor center. Describing your interests and asking
“What’s best to see this time of year?” may well produce custom-tailored
hiking advice. You will notice hikes are described in time as well as
distance because steeper trails make simple distance a deceptive
measure. A leaflet, “Walks and Hikes,” describes over 50 popular day
hikes and is available from park visitor centers for a small charge.

                        Backcountry Use Permits

All overnight hiking in the park requires a backcountry use permit
available free at visitor centers, and the Cades Cove campground kiosk.
The permit system has as its purpose to protect the unspoiled character
of the Smokies backcountry for the enjoyment of present and future
users. Permits distribute use so that impact is not disproportionate in
popular areas, and thus they provide backcountry users with an
opportunity for increased solitude. You do not need a backcountry use
permit for day hiking, only for overnight use. The “Great Smoky
Mountains Trail Map” folder (see above) explains the permit system and
its use. Information is also available at ranger stations or visitor
centers. Or write: Backcountry Permit, in care of the park address;
telephone (615) 436-1231 and ask for “Backcountry.” You can reserve a
specific backcountry campsite for one to three specific nights up to 30
days in advance under this permit system. You can do this in person, by
telephone, or by mail. The permit itself must be picked up in person no
earlier than 24 hours before the beginning of the trip. _Note_:
Reservations for the entire trip are automatically canceled if your
permit is not picked up by 12:00 noon on the first day of the scheduled
trip. Permits will not be issued to groups larger than eight persons.

Competition for use of trail shelters along popular trails is great in
the peak season. But you can pick and choose from among many uncrowded
trails that offer trailside campsites. All water obtained in the
backcountry should be boiled or chemically treated.

                         The Appalachian Trail

Of all the distance the Appalachian Trail spans between Maine and
Georgia, perhaps no sustained portion is as virtually untouched by
humanity as the 110 kilometers (70 miles) threading the crest of the
Smokies. And this despite the fact that the overall trail is 3,244
kilometers (2,015 miles) long. You can park your car in the Newfound Gap
Parking Area and walk the AT north or south for a pleasant walk—or
day-long hike—along the Smokies crest. A popular destination to the
north is Charlies Bunion. There, because of unrecovered fire openings on
extremely steep mountain slopes, you achieve a real alpine sense and
literal “peak” experience. You can also park below Clingmans Dome, a
short spur drive south of Newfound Gap, and experience the AT.

About every 10-16 kilometers (8 to 10 miles) there are overnight
shelters providing primitive bunks. These three-sided shelters are
closed in on the fourth side with chainlink fence as bear-proofing. To
stay in these shelters requires a backcountry use permit/reservation.
Stays are limited to one night at a given shelter.

    [Illustration: _The Appalachian Trail traces 110 kilometers (70
    miles) along the crest of the range. Overnight shelters are screened
    against bears. Shelter use requires a backcountry use permit (see
    text). Through-hikers on the Appalachian Trail must also write ahead
    for permit information._]

    [Illustration: _Most park trails are well defined and well marked.
    They offer backpackers ready—if not easy—access to some of the
    East’s finest wildlands._]

If you are hiking the Appalachian Trail from outside the park you can
stop at the Twentymile Ranger Station (on the south) or the Big Creek
Ranger Station (on the north) to get your permit and reserve shelter
space. You can also write ahead for a permit and reservation up to 30
days in advance (see above). For through-hikers—those hiking the entire
AT between Maine and Georgia—the situation is different. You can obtain
a “through permit” in advance of your trip. Write to Backcountry Permits
at the park address and explain your trip.

Because it follows the Smokies crest the AT acts as backbone to a
network of trails within the park. With such spur trails, many with
their own pleasant waterfall, creek, or other natural feature as an
attraction, you have access to the AT from numerous trailheads. Such AT
sections are much less crowded than those near Newfound Gap and
Clingmans Dome. You get the same sense of walking the crest of eastern
America and participating in the trail experience that began as a dream
of a pioneering land-use planner, Benton MacKaye, early in this century.

For information about the complete Appalachian Trail write The
Appalachian Trail Conference, P.O. Box 236, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

                           Backcountry Basics

While you need a backcountry use permit only for overnight backcountry
travel, it would be remiss not to say something about backcountry basics
for casual trail walkers and day hikers. Once you leave a parking area
or campground in the Smokies, you are in the wilderness. This is the
nature of the place. The National Park Service advises against solo
camping or hiking in the backcountry. Even experienced hikers can get
into trouble and, if alone, may not be able to obtain help. This
information is not offered to scare or offend you, but just to make you
realize where you are and to make you concerned about your safety.

Stream crossings can be dangerous if the streams are swollen after a
rainstorm. Don’t attempt to ford a swollen stream. Return to the
trailhead and plan another trip. It’s worth the extra effort and

Sudden weather changes are characteristic of the Great Smokies. Be
prepared to get wet and either hotter or colder. Rain, wind, and cold
can become a deadly combination before you recognize your own symptoms
of hypothermia. Rainstorms are typical of warmer weather, so always
carry raingear in late spring and summer.

Stay on park trails. If you become lost, do not leave the trail.
Particularly, _do not follow a stream_ because dense undergrowth will
rapidly tire you. Most trails intersect others within a few kilometers
and signs at the junctions can put you back on course. If you find
yourself lost late in the day, find a protected spot and spend the
night. After-dark travel is dangerous. Try to stay warm and dry. Show
some sign if possible, such as a fire.

Do not climb on cliff faces and waterfalls. The fine spray mist off
waterfalls makes surrounding rocks treacherous footing and increases
safety hazards.

If you intend to try winter camping, write to the superintendent for
information about the equipment you should have, a backcountry permit,
and conditions you may encounter. At higher elevations winter conditions
can differ radically from the popular image of winter in the mid-South.



Camping is a good way to get into the spirit of the Great Smoky
Mountains. The National Park Service maintains ten developed campgrounds
in the park: at Smokemont, Elkmont, Cades Cove, Cosby, Deep Creek, Look
Rock, Balsam Mountain, Cataloochee, Big Creek, and Abrams Creek. Fees
are charged. Campgrounds offer water, fireplaces, tables, comfort
stations, tent sites, and limited trailer space. No shelters are
provided; bring your own and other camping equipment. There are no
showers or trailer hookups. Disposal stations for trailer holding tanks
are found at Smokemont, Deep Creek, Cades Cove, and Cosby Campgrounds
and across the road from the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Primitive
campgrounds have pit toilets.

Camping is limited to seven days at all campgrounds during the peak
season. You may reserve campsites at Elkmont and Cades Cove in Tennessee
and Smokemont in North Carolina by writing to Ticketron Reservations,
P.O. Box 617516, Chicago, Illinois 60661-7516. Telephone reservations
may be made by calling 1-800-452-1111. For prompt service call the
national park (see page 101) for the current per-night camping fee and
Ticketron’s reservation handling fee. Then mail Ticketron a money order,
not a personal check, to cover the reservation plus handling for the
entire period you request. General tips: Avoid mid-summer’s peak camping
season. Spring and autumn can be pleasant and offer dazzling flower and
leaf-coloration shows. Arrive early in the day and seek your campsite on
arrival. Look for a campground off the beaten path, generally away from
the Newfound Gap Road (see map).

Chambers of commerce can supply you with commercial camping information.
Regional lists of campgrounds are maintained by tourist offices in both
Tennessee and North Carolina. For Tennessee write: “Fishing and Camping
in East Tennessee,” Knoxville Tourist Bureau, 500 Henley St., Knoxville,
Tennessee 37901, or telephone (615) 523-2316. For North Carolina write:
“North Carolina Outdoors,” Travel and Tourism Division, 430 No.
Salisbury, Raleigh, North Carolina 27603, or telephone (919) 733-4171.

LeConte Lodge lies atop Mount LeConte, third highest Appalachian peak.
You must hike a half-day up mountain trails to get there. Make
reservations several months in advance. The lodge sits amidst spruce and
fir trees. You can hike in via Alum Caves Bluffs; the lodge sits at
trail junctions to Rainbow Falls, Grotto Falls, and the Appalachian
Trail. You need bring only personal articles. For information and
reservations, write: LeConte Lodge, 250 Lonesome Valley Rd.,
Sevierville, Tennessee 37862, (615) 429-5704. The only other park
accommodations besides campgrounds are the Wonderland Hotel, a small
turn-of-the-century hotel in Elkmont. For information or reservations
call (615) 436-5490. Closed in winter.

    [Illustration: _A new breed often encountered on today’s trails is
    called backpackee!_]

                             For Your Safety

                          Bears, Bears, Bears

Tales could be told that would curdle your blood ... but not about the
black bear’s aggressiveness. These stories would be about the stupidity
of some human beings. For reasons of pride in our own species—and so as
not to demean bears—we will not recount these tales here. Just this:

The black bear is the largest wild animal in these parts. It can weigh
225 kilograms (500 pounds) or more, but is capable of incredibly fast
sprints on rough terrain. It is a wild animal, and protected as such it
sometimes loses its normal fear of people. This makes the bear appear
tame, but it is then actually more dangerous than its truly wild
counterparts. If you come upon a bear while you are in your car, keep
the windows shut. Do not attempt to feed, tease, molest, or get close to
a bear. Do not try to take a closeup portrait photograph of a bear;
either use a telephoto lens or be satisfied with a distant shot.

Avoid and steer clear of a sow bear with cubs. She will do anything to
protect them if she thinks they are threatened. Keep in mind that, even
if you don’t see her, she is seldom far away. Cubs are cute, but you
approach or show interest in them at your peril.

Bear feeding is prohibited. It is dangerous to you and those who come
after you. It also establishes habits that may lead to the death of the
bear. Roadside bears are frequently hit by cars, killed by poachers, or
fed harmful substances. Don’t be guilty of killing a bear with kindness.

Campers and backpackers must observe certain regulations designed to
minimize the extent to which bears are attracted to human pursuits in
the park. If you plan to camp or backpack, make sure you are familiar
with these regulations on food storage, etc. For example, food cannot be
left unattended. If you are backpacking, it must be hung out of reach of
bears. If you are camping in a campground, food must be stored in the
trunk of your car. Ask for additional information when you obtain your
backcountry use permit or when you check into a campground. Failure to
observe these regulations may bring a fine.

Theories abound about how to act if you should confront a bear. All such
theories assume the bear isn’t just as startled as you, and that “bear
behavior” is predictable. It is not. As many as 600 bears may inhabit
the park. This many individuals of any highly evolved species are
unlikely to act—much less to react—with any great predictability.

                    Hypothermia and Winter Warnings

In the Smokies you must always be prepared for sudden changes in
weather, especially as you go from one elevation to another. Know how to
take care of yourself in extremes of cold, heat, and wetness. Always
carry rain gear because storms arise quickly. In mid-summer at higher
elevations a wet hiker can succumb to hypothermia, an all-weather
killer. Hypothermia is a condition in which the body loses heat faster
than it can generate it. You cannot imagine how rapidly hypothermia
symptoms can appear even in mild weather—until they strike you. Then it
may be too late. Know how to recognize hypothermia’s symptoms:
uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, memory lapse, fumbling hands,
stumbling, drowsiness, and inability to get up after a nap.

Prepare yourself against the possibility of hypothermia by keeping a
warm, dry layer of clothing next to the body, topped with a layer to
ward off wind and precipitation. Snack often on high-energy foods and
take ample liquids. In winter wear multiple layers of insulating
clothing under your top layer of rain and wind protection.

    [Illustration: _There is a saying that high boots will protect you
    from poisonous snakes, but that common sense is needed to keep you
    out of trouble with bears._]

    [Illustration: _The timber rattlesnake (above) and the copperhead
    are the only poisonous snakes in these mountains._]

Remember that hypothermia strikes in any season, not just winter. Winter
hazards include frostbite; icy trails and deep snow; and trails obscured
by deep snow.

                         Management Regulations

Drive safely, observing posted speed limits, and pull off the road or
park only at designated areas. Do not leave valuables inside a locked
car where they can be seen. Leave them home, take them with you when you
leave your car, or lock them in the trunk.

Hunting is prohibited in the park. Firearms must be broken down so they
cannot be used. The use of archery equipment, game calls, and spotlights
is also prohibited.

All plants, animals, and artifacts are protected by Federal law here. Do
not disturb them in any way. Fishing is permitted subject to State and
Federal regulation and licensing.

All overnight camping in the backcountry requires a backcountry permit.
Otherwise, camp and build fires only in designated campground sites.

A Word About Pets. It is best not to bring pets. They are permitted in
the park but only if on a leash or under other physical control at all
times. They may not be taken on trails or cross-country hikes.
Veterinary services are found in nearby towns. If you want to board your
pet during your stay here, check with the chambers of commerce in nearby

                           Nearby Attractions

To describe the many attractions near the Smokies would require an
encyclopedic guidebook. Nearby are TVA’s “Great Lakes of the South,”
Biltmore House and Gardens, large national forests, Oak Ridge’s American
Museum of Science and Energy, and other features too numerous to
mention. Here are just a few features often associated with a Smokies

The Blue Ridge Parkway. From the northeast the Blue Ridge Parkway makes
a delightful highway approach to the Smokies on the North Carolina side.
The parkway is administered by the National Park Service and connects
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, with the Great Smoky Mountains
National Park. It meticulously follows the southern Appalachians for 755
kilometers (469 miles). It is a roadway designed for motor recreation
and so provides leisurely travel free of commercial development. All
along it are trails and scenic viewpoints. In season, wildflowers and
fall colors can be stupendous. Just before the parkway reaches the
Smokies it enters the Balsam Mountains, from which you look directly
across at the Smokies. Just after Soco Gap on the parkway you can turn
almost due north onto a spur road into the national park’s Balsam
Mountain Campground and its Heintooga Overlook area.

    [Illustration: _Several lakes created by Tennessee Valley Authority
    (TVA) dams provide open water recreation opportunities, including
    excellent bass fishing, adjacent to or near the park._]

For a free map and folder detailing services, lodging and
accommodations, and points of interest, write: Superintendent, Blue
Ridge Parkway, 200 BB and T Building, One Pack Square, Asheville, North
Carolina 28801.

The Gateway Cities. For many people a trip to the Smokies is not
complete without taking in the sights of Pigeon Forge, Townsend, and/or
Gatlinburg, Tennessee, or Bryson City or Cherokee, North Carolina. At
either end of U.S. 441 these municipalities go all-out to serve the
tourist trade. Restaurants and motels are major industries along with
curio shops, art galleries, and the theme villages that characterize our
American tourist scene.

    [Illustration: _The Blue Ridge Parkway has its southern terminus at
    the North Carolina entrance to the park. This is Craggy Gardens,
    near Milepost 364, famous for its Catawba rhododendron displays._]

Taken together these surrounding municipalities offer most facilities
and services you might need during your stay in the Smokies. Cameras and
photographic supplies, groceries, pharmacies, local literature and
guides, banks, and countless other services are available.

Cherokee Indian Heritage. The Cherokee Indian Reservation abuts the park
boundary on the southeast. In Cherokee there are museums and shops where
the art and crafts of these eastern woodlands Indians, thought to be of
original Iroquoian stock, are displayed and offered for sale. Each year
a play, “Unto These Hills,” is performed locally. It describes the
Cherokee’s history and early encounters with Europeans. Most of these
activities occur on the North Carolina side of the park.

Mountain Folkways and Crafts. Mountain ingenuity and the human bent for
creativity gave rise to crafts characteristic of the southern mountains.
These are kept alive in various outlets surrounding the Smokies. In
Gatlinburg you can visit the famed Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts,
which has done so much to revive original handicraft arts and support
the artists by marketing their work.

    [Illustration: _Three main types of basketry are made by Cherokees.
    Rivercane baskets are now relatively scarce because the
    once-abundant cane is itself scarce now. White oak baskets are more
    common. Baskets are also woven from honeysuckle. Above are exquisite
    examples of basketry by Carol S. Welch, a member of the Eastern Band
    of Cherokee Indians._]

    [Illustration: _The American Museum of Science and Technology at Oak
    Ridge National Laboratories provides a thoroughly modern contrast to
    the traditional folkways of the Smokies._]

                          Armchair Explorations

                    Some Books You May Want to Read

The Great Smoky Mountains and their national park are both rich in lore,
much of which has been collected and committed to print over the years.
Your appreciation of a trip to these mountains can be greatly enhanced,
both before and after, by reading accounts of the area’s history,
natural history, and folklore. There are also field identification
guides to nearly everything you see here, from rocks and flowers to
spiders and mammals. And there are trail and hiking guidebooks full of
good tips and advice on interesting trips, both day trips and
overnights. Listed here are selected titles usually available for
purchase at park visitor centers, or to be found in your public library.
Many of these may also be purchased in bookstores in communities near
the park. Several interesting and useful maps of the area are also
available. For a more complete list of publications write to the Great
Smoky Mountains Natural History Association, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
37738. This nonprofit association maintains a sales list of technical
and other books about the Smokies as part of its efforts to enhance the
interpretation of the park’s values to the public.

Brooks, Maurice. _The Appalachians_, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1965.

Broome, Harvey. _Out Under the Sky of the Great Smokies_, The Greenbrier
Press, 1975.

Campbell, Carlos. _Birth of a National Park in the Great Smoky
Mountains_, The University of Tennessee Press, 1960.

Cantu, Rita. _Great Smoky Mountains: The Story Behind the Scenery_, KC
Publications, 1979.

Dykeman, Wilma and Jim Stokely. _At Home in the Smokies_, National Park
Service Handbook 125, 1978.

Frome, Michael. _Strangers in High Places: The Story of the Great Smoky
Mountains_, The University of Tennessee Press, 1980.

Kephart, Horace. _Our Southern Highlanders_, The University of Tennessee
Press, 1922.

Shields, Randolph. _The Cades Cove Story_, Great Smoky Mountains Natural
History Association, 1977.

Tilden, Freeman. _The National Parks_, Alfred A. Knopf, 1968.


    Numbers in italics refer to photographs, illustrations, or maps.

  Accommodations  104, 118
  Acorns  67, 68, 70
  Adams  (flies) _46_, _47_
  Adirondacks, mountains  55
  Altitude  30
  American Museum of Science and Technology  _124_
  Animals  42, 53, 55-56, 57, 80;
      diseases, 68;
      effects of settlement, 81-82, 83;
      feeding habits, 67-73, 75, 81;
      comeback in national park, 83-84;
      photos, _33_, _63-65_
  Appalachian Trail  _12-15_, 16, 25, 51, _116-17_
  Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts  124
  Azalea, flame  37, _60_

  Balds  _36-37_, 75, 79-80, 114
  Basketry  _124_
  Basswood  _32_
  Bear  69-70, 73, _76-77_, 105, 120
  Bicycling  _52_, 112-13
  Birds  _32_, _33_, 42, 53, 55, _62_, 72, 83, 113
  Blue Ridge Parkway  122, _123_
  Boar  69, 70-73, _74_, _75_
  Bobcat  _63_
  Bryson City  124
  Buckeye, yellow  _33_
  Bug, Humpy or Guffus  _46_

  Caddis, olive  _46_
  Caddisfly  _45_
  Cades Cove  30, 83, 112;
      motor trail, 105-6, 108, 110;
      photos, _7_, _94-95_, _98-100_;
      settlement, 80;
      visitor centers, 104, 110
  Cahill  _46_, _47_
  Camping  115-18, 120, 121
  Cardinal  _62_
  Champion Coated Paper Company  48
  Cherokee  (city) 124
  Cherry, fire  _61_
  Chickadee  32
  Climate  30
  Clingmans Dome  9, 30, 51, 107
  Coachman, ladywing  _46_
  Copperhead  _65_
  Coreopsis  _59_
  Craggy Gardens  _122_
  Crestmont  49

  Deer, whitetail  _63_, 67
  Deermouse  _63_
  Dog-hobble  _60_
  Dogwood, flowering  _61_, _111_

  Elkmont  49, 118
  Enloe, Mrs. Clem  _47_

  Fish  41, 45, 56-57, 113
      _See also_ Flies, artificial; Trout
  Flicker, common  _62_
  Flies, artificial  _46-47_
  Flowers  17, _24_, 25, _32-33_, _58-59_, 110
  Fontana Lake  42
  Forest  9, 16-17, 27, 30;
      as food source, 67-68, 81;
      cove 25-26, 33, _34-35_, 54-55, 56, 83;
      effects of settlement, 79-81, 82-83;
      fires and flooding, _50_, 51, 82;
      photos, _32-35_, _50_, _51_, _66_, _111_
      _See also_ Industry, lumber
  Forney Creek  39
  Fringe-tree  _60_
  Frogs  _64_

  Gatlinburg  122
  Great Smoky Mountains  9, _10-15_, 16, _18-20_, 30, _52_, 53-57,
  Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
      accommodations, 104, 118;
      brochures, 101-14 _passim_;
      camping, 115-18, 120, 121;
      ecological effects, 82-84;
      established, 8-9, 16, 82-83;
      health precautions, 120-21;
      International Biosphere Reserve, 17, 31;
      location, 101;
      maps, 100, _101-5_, 112, 114;
      motor trails, 95, _98-99_, 105-6, 107-8, 110;
      nearby attractions, 122-23;
      recreation, 106, 112-13;
      regulations, 121;
      restorations, 7-8, _78_, _92-93_, _107_, 108-10;
      visitor centers, 104, _105_
  Grey Hackle Peacock  46
  Grotto Falls  _38_, 118
  Guyot, Mount  51

  Hare’s Ear, gold ribbed  _46_
  Hawkweed, orange  _59_
  Hiking  30, 104, 105, 106, 114-17, _119_
  Horseback riding  112-13
  Hooper Bald  70

  Indians, Cherokee  9, 16, 79-80, _96-97_, 108;
      Reservation, 124
  Industry, lumber  8, _48-49_, 51, 82

  Jack-in-the-pulpit  _58_, 110

  Knoxville  95

  Lady’s-slipper, pink  _59_
  Lakes, TVA  _112_, 122
  LeConte, Mount  _10-11_, 118
  Lily, Turk’s-cap  _59_
  _Linnaea_  17
  Little Greenbrier School  _107_, 110
  Little Pigeon River  _51_
  Lizard, fence  _32_, _64_
  Logging  _See_ Industry, lumber

  Magnolia, umbrella  _61_
  Maps  101, _102-3_, 112, 114
  Maryville  95
  Messer, Milas  85
  Mingus Mill  _93_, _107_, 110
  Motor trails  95, _98-99_, 105-6, 107-8, 110
  Mountain laurel  _61_
  Mushrooms  _20_, 21

  Natural Chimneys  55
  Nymphs  _46_

      river  48;
      Valley  80;
      Visitor Center  104, _105_
  Opossum  _63_
  Owl, barred  _62_

  Painted-cup, scarlet  _58_
  Passion-flower  _59_
  Pigeon Forge  122
  Pioneer Farmstead  _78_, _92-93_, 110
  Plants  _20_, _22-24_, 31, _52_, 53-57, _58-61_, 81, 110-_11_.
      _See also_ flowers
  Proctor  49

  Rabbit, cottontail  _63_
  Rattlesnake, timber  _65_, _121_
  Raven  _33_
  Ravensford  49
  Redbud  _60_
  Restorations  7-8, _78_, _92-93_, _107_, 108-10
  Rhododendron, catawba  _61_;
      rosebay  _33_

  Salamanders  16, 17, 40-41, _64-65_, 75
  Secret weapon  _46_
  Settlement  _6_, 7-8;
      mountain people  80-81, 92-93, 108-10;
      occupations  _85-91_, 124
  Shrubs  27, _60-61_
  Silers Bald  51
  Silverbell, mountain  _60_
  Skunk, spotted  _63_
  Smokemont  49
  Snakes  _64_, _65_, _121_
  Sorrel, wood  _24_, 25
  Spruce  _33_
  Squirrels  _32_, _33_, 68
  Streams  43, 45
  Sundew  _37_

  Titmouse, tufted  _62_
  Toad, American  _65_
  Townsend  95, 122
  Trees _See_ Forest
      great white 33;
      painted _58_, 110
      brook, 41  _44-45_, 51, _112_, 113;
      brown, 41  _44_, 51, 113;
      rainbow  39-40, 41, _44_, 51, 113
  Turkey, wild  _62_
  Turtle, box  _32_

  Violet, bird’s-foot  _59_
  Visitor centers  104, _105_

  Warbler, yellow  _62_
  White Mountains  55
  Witch hazel  25
  Witch-hobble  _60_
  Wooly worm, yellow  _46_
  Wulff, royal  _46_

  Yellow Hammer  (antique gold) _46_;
      (peacock) _46_
  Yellow-poplar  _61_

                                                            Reprint 1991

                         National Park Service

The National Park Service expresses its appreciation to all those
persons who made the preparation and production of this handbook
possible. The Service also gratefully acknowledges the financial support
given this handbook project by the Great Smoky Mountains Natural History
Association, a nonprofit group that assists interpretive efforts at
Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


All photographs and other artwork not credited below are from the files
of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the National Park

  American Museum of Science and Energy, 124 museum.
  William A. Bake, covers, 6, 10-11, 33 trillium, 35 yellow-poplar and
          mushrooms, 45, 52, 58, 59 bird’s-foot violet, 61 mountain
          laurel, 66, 78, 92 farmer, 93 hen, 123 Blue Ridge Parkway.
  Greg Beaumont, 62 except turkey, 63 opossum.
  Ed Cooper, 4-5, 12-13, 18-19, 34, 38, 92-93 buildings, 100.
  Edouard E. Exline, 85, 86 coopering, 88 hide and staves, 89 shaping
          metal, 91 ginning.
  Daniel Feaser, 44 fish.
  George Founds, 74, 76.
  Charles S. Grossman, 86 tub mill, 87 rolling cane, 89 gunsmithing, 91
          churning, carding and washday.
  Joseph S. Hall, 47 angler.
  Indian Arts and Crafts Board, 97 baskets, 124 baskets.
  Royce Jenkins, 46 yellow hammer and yellow wooly worm.
  John MacGregor, 64-65 except rattlesnake, pine snake, and red-cheeked
  Kenneth McDonald, 14-15, 20, 22-23, 24, 37 sundew, 98-99, 112 angler,
          114, 115 tenter, 116, 119, 122 boat.
  Steve Moore, 46 except Jenkins, 47 fly.
  Alan Rinehart, 87 mill interior, hauling wood, and splitting shingles,
          89 basketry.
  Smithsonian Institution, 96.
  Laura Thornborough, 90, 91 baskets.

                    U.S. Department of the Interior

As the Nation’s principal conservation agency, the Department of the
Interior has responsibility for most of our nationally owned public
lands and natural resources. This includes fostering the wisest use of
our land and water resources, protecting our fish and wildlife,
preserving the environmental and cultural values of our national parks
and historical places, and providing for the enjoyment of life through
outdoor recreation. The Department assesses our energy and mineral
resources and works to assure that their development is in the best
interest of all our people. The Department also has a major
responsibility for American Indian reservation communities and for
people who live in island territories under U.S. administration.

                          Transcriber’s Notes

  Retained publication information from the printed edition: this eBook
          is public-domain in the country of publication.
  Relocated all image captions to be immediately under the corresponding
          images, removing s references like “preceding page”.
  Silently corrected a few palpable typos.
  Added separate “Guide and Advisor” Table of Contents to the main
  Collated Table of contents against actual headings; added several
          headings to match the Table.
  In the text versions only, text in italic font is delimited by

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