The Birth of the Great Smoky Mounatins National Park

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A Little History: Or How the Smoky Mountains
Became a National Park

Photographs courtesy of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Service

Obstacles to Creating the Great Smokey Mountains National Park

Horses Pulling LogsThere existed natural foes to developing a national park. These foes consisted of financial interests to businessmen, political foes that had their own ulterior motives, and cultural foes that wanted the Smokies to remain as they were. Some businessmen were primarily interested in developing a road between Tennessee and North Carolina to make their business easier. To them the Smokies were the place where they got away to hunt and fish. Other business owners were more interested in developing the Smokies as a national forest rather than a national park-the distinction being that national-forest status would still allow the area's resources to be exploited; whereas national-park status would protect, for all time, the area just as it was (no timber -cutting, hunting, or fishing). Chief among the business interests were the timber and pulp companies, which owned most of the wilderness areas and virgin forests. In addition, cultural interests included the families who already lived in the mountains, both descendants of the original settlers in the area and people who had purchased land for vacations or retreats.

Then, of course, there was the obstacle of acquiring the funds necessary to purchase all the land required to create the Park. Promises and contributions actually made up a small portion of the total funds required. Both the Tennessee and North Carolina legislatures, Congress, and the Rockefeller family would all come to the rescue.

Scarred Mountainside

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