a fake page rip for aesthetic purposes. Aerial view of Gatlinburg, Tennessee and the Smoky Mountains. a fake page rip for aesthetic purposes.

How strong is your Gatlinburg knowledge? Perhaps you already know that Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in America or that thousands of bears make their home here. There’s way more to Gatlinburg’s unique history, both in the past and present, than you may know! From the city’s humble, but shaky, beginnings to today’s miraculous features, there’s plenty to learn. Here are 5 things you may not know about Gatlinburg:

1. Gatlinburg’s Namesake Was Actually Despised

Gatlinburg was initially known as “White Oak Flats” in the early 1800s before the arrival of Radford and Elizabeth Gatlin in 1854. The Gatlin’s purchased large amounts of land from the Ogle family, who first settled the area in the early 1800s. Radford Gatlin eventually established the town’s first post office in his general store and folks began referring to the area as Gatlinburg. Tensions would flare as Radford Gatlin constantly feuded with the Ogles and other residents over his pro-succession views, an unpopular opinion among those in town at the time. By 1859, Gatlin was forced out of town!

2. Gatlinburg Nearly Wasn’t a Part of Tennessee

Before Tennessee ever became a state, the area of Gatlinburg was actually located in a territory called Franklin, named after none other than Benjamin Franklin. In 1784, Franklin petitioned Congress to become the 14th state of the Union. The federal government denied this request, leaving the people in Franklin to establish their own independent territory with its own laws and regulations. Just a few years later Franklin would collapse when its governor, John Sevier, was arrested for treason. Sevier made a comeback, though, ultimately becoming the governor of Tennessee.

3. Fish in Ripley’s Aquarium Outnumber Residents

As popular as Gatlinburg is among travelers from all corners of the globe, today there are only about 4,000 people who live in the city. Compare that to the 10,000 different marine creatures who live at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, one of the most beloved attractions in town, and that’s quite the statistic! Ripley’s isn’t just any aquarium, it’s routinely voted as one of the top aquariums in America by national publications, including USA Today! 

Fish swimming at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies.

4. City’s First Cabin Still Stands in Downtown

If you happen to be a history buff, you’re going to love all the historic sites in Gatlinburg! One of the most popular of these is the Historic Ogle Cabin. The cabin was the very first to be built in Gatlinburg, established in the early 1800s by the Ogle family who first settled in the area. Today, the cabin stands downtown at the Gatlinburg Welcome Center, having been moved from its original location near the Arrowmont Gallery. Fashioned out of logs made from local lumber and full of history, it’s a must-visit!

5. It’s the “Salamander Capital of the World”

While bears are commonly the most talked about animals in the Smokies, it’s a much smaller, more slippery creature that is the most abundant and diverse in Gatlinburg. Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg is known as the “Salamander Capital of the World” because it's home to more than 30 different species of salamanders! If you visit the national park, you’re likely to come across one or two on your adventures.

A salamander in the Smoky Mountains.

Now that you’re more familiar with Gatlinburg and its unique history, all that’s left for you to do is to explore it! Learn about some great reasons to visit Tennessee Homemade Wines in Gatlinburg on your next vacation!

June 2024
Arrow pointing right
Arrow pointing right

More To Read

Wine Arrow