Gatlinburg, TN is full of quaint shops, great places to eat and plenty of charm for visitors to enjoy. Everyone knows that skiing, shopping and great attractions like the aquarium make this a wonderful place to visit. However, maybe there are a few things you didn’t know about this city settled in the Great Smoky Mountains. Check out these little-known facts:
Gatlinburg has a strong black bear population (approximately 2 bears per square mile). However, this does not mean every visitor will see one of these beautiful creatures. For the best viewing opportunities get your camera ready at dusk. Watch tree outlines along the forest edges. Sometimes they will come into yards where there are bird feeders and trash cans. Watch from a safe place (like an upper porch or a window). Do not approach the bears. It is illegal to be willfully within 50 feet of them. Do not feed them. Simply watch them or take pictures.
The first cabin in Gatlinburg still stands today as a testament to the fortitude and undying perseverance the settlers had in this rugged land. The Martha Jane Ogle Cabin is located beside the Municipal Parking building. It is very easy to miss. This cabin was built in 1802 on a site nearby. Through the years it has been used as a settlement school, a hospital and a museum.
Step inside on the days it is open to see the tiny interior. A spinning wheel, an enormous fireplace and a bed take up the majority of the room. The walls hold daily utensils, saws and other things necessary for daily living.
Gatlinburg is a native home to ginseng, which has exponentially increased in value in the homeopathic world for its energy-giving properties. Ginseng grows in hilly, shaded areas in and around Gatlinburg. It has been poached so much that today volunteers and botanists must replant poached roots in the fall. Ginseng that has been confiscated from poachers is weighed, marked and then replanted into the forest to ensure that the plant does not become extinct.
Wild ginseng is almost as valuable as gold in the Asian market. It can bring from $300 to $1200 US per pound depending on the time of the year. Poachers are willing to pay stiff fines and even do jail time to get the wrinkled root to prospective buyers.
Artist and Crafters
Gatlinburg has the largest group of crafters and artists in North America. The Tennessee Heritage Arts and Crafts Trail is the place where scrimshaw, leather works, silversmiths, stained glass and whittled collectibles are lovingly made for visitors to take home and enjoy. The techniques have been passed down from generation to generation in proud mountain families. Many of the artisans will demonstrate their craft for visitors who want to learn. Others keep the family secrets close to their heart and top-secret.
Come and explore the unknown Gatlinburg on your next visit.