Thursday, October 1, 2015

Great Smoky Mountains National Park in history

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the biggest park preserves in the eastern United States. By the mid 1800’s white settlers has established themselves in several areas of the Smoky Mountains, especially in fertile bottomlands like Roaring Fork Valley, Cades Cove and White Oak Flats.

In 1923 a Great Smoky Mountains Conservation Association was established with Willis Davies as president.

President Calvin Coolidge signed the bill authorizing establishment of the park on May 22, 1926. The first superintendent, J. Ross Eakin officially began his duties on January 16, 1931. The park was the first of three National Park Service units to be established in the southern Appalachian during the Great Depression.

On January 23, 1928, John D. Rockefeller Jr. offered $5 million to the national park’s cause. To test the resolve of the campaign, Rockefeller’s gift required the equal matching of funds. In the end, efforts proved successful and as the memorial at Newfound Gap reads. ‘For the permanent enjoyment of the people, these park was given one half by the peoples and states of Carolina and Tennessee and by the United States of America and one half in memory of Laura Spelman Rockefeller by the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial founded by her husband John D. Rockefeller.’

In 1934, Great Smoky Mountains National Park was finally established, preserving unique mountain landscape for future generation.

Most of the land that today makes the national park was owned by logging companies, and much of the landscape here was heavily logged during the first third of the 20th century. Even though the park was officially established in 1934, all logging had not yet cease. Little River Lumber Company sold its land with a provision that it be allowed to finish logging it. Its last trees were cut in the small valley of Spruce Falls Branch near Tremont in 1938.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park in history

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