Great Smoky Mountains National Park staff and volunteers are inviting visitors and history buffs to help them identify former historic homesites. The park is hosting the event at the King Family Library in Sevierville, TN on Saturday, December 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. During this time, folks can add their own historical documents to the national park’s records or simply learn more about the cultural significance behind these old structures.
According to Volunteer-In-Park Frank March, the Great Smoky Mountains have more than 2,400 former homesites. Officials have successfully identified roughly 70 percent of these sites, most of which were a part of the 1,200 farms purchased between 1920 and 1940 for the purpose of creating the national park. Visitors can find these documents at the park’s Collection Preservation Center.
Park officials believe that the missing 30 percent of these homesites could date back to 1790.
“We are reaching out to the local community to see if anyone has old photos and information that may help with the project,” said March, who is leading research efforts with park archeologist Allison Harvey. “We encourage the public to bring historic photos, hand-drawn maps, or other documents that will help us identify former homesite locations.”
History buffs need not worry about sacrificing their significant documents, either. Park archivist Michael Aday will only scan the materials and hand back the original documents, as well as a digital copy, to the rightful owner.
Head to the History Center on the third floor of the library to literally witness history in action.
Great Smoky Mountains Also Completing Crucial Repair Work
While visitors and staff gather in the King Family Library, road crews will be hard at work outside completing necessary repairs to 19 of Great Smoky Mountain National Park’s bridges. Now that the busy season has ended, the park has ramped up repairs to ensure a positive visitor experience and safety. The park awarded $1.3 million to Bryant’s Land and Development Industries, Inc. to improve the bridges by August 2023.
Of course, with the repairs will come closures, and over the next 10 months, visitors may experience detours, lane closures and possible delays.
In particular, “Crews will implement single-lane closures in most locations to safely accomplish work, however, full road closures will be necessary at a few, select sites,” the park announced earlier this month.
During this time, crews will be working to improve and/or replace bridge joints, stone masonry, railings and decks.
In preparation for the changes, Facility Management Division Chief Barbara Hatcher cautioned motorists to use caution while driving through the park.
“Work activity is likely to inconvenience motorists on busy days. However, closures are expected to be in place for less than a week at each of the 19 bridge locations,” Hatcher added. “We remind motorists to slow down when traveling through work sites to protect workers.”