History of Gatlinburg

Have you ever wondered how Gatlinburg got its name? Or do want to know more about the town’s rich history? We don’t blame you, we love this town too! While our small cozy mountain town is known for its lush scenery, family fun attractions, and amazing food, it wasn’t always the tourist town that it is today.

How It All Started

It all started in the early 1800s with a family of settlers from South Carolina; the Ogle family. A widowed woman, Martha Jane Ogle, relocated her family in this area that would later be Gatlinburg. You can actually visit the original cabin they lived in at Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts’ campus, located in downtown Gatlinburg! Slowly more settlers joined, building cabins and eventually creating a small village. This mountain village was originally called “White Oak Flats” for its abundance of white oak trees.

How Did Gatlinburg Get Its Name?

The town of Gatlinburg is named after a man named Radford C. Gatlin, who owned the second general store of the town. When he opened the post office within the store, in 1856, the town’s name changed to Gatlinburg. He was an interesting man who had many controversial actions that resulted in him being banished from the town named after himself. Some of these actions was starting his own “Gatlinite” baptist church and being a democrat in a republican town.

Becoming An Attraction

In 1937, a community labeled The Glades came together to share arts and crafts. They marketed these crafts for years before deciding to invite tourists. This attraction grew and grew, and now hosts over 120 artists! In 1962, Ober Gatlinburg opened, becoming a popular ski resort for the Great Smoky Mountains. Slowly, more attractions opened, and now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited in the United States! 

It’s amazing to think that it all started with a few settlers who drew more settlers into a small town that made Gatlinburg what it is today.