CADES COVE: Appalachian Lives in the Past Tense
When Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established, over 100 families were living in Cades Cove. This beautiful valley in the mountains was a community of farmers, schoolteachers, blacksmiths, grist millers, and moonshiners; all had to eventually leave with the coming of the national park, abandoning the homesteads where they had built their lives.
The black and white photographs here represent some of the artifacts they left behind. We can only distantly visualize their lives, since life in the early 21st century is so vastly different. But we can certainly imagine and empathize a bit with their lives: the sense of joy at a bountiful harvest; of grief at the loss of an infant; of wonder at the sight of a rainbow stretching over the high mountains; of walking five miles to school in a snowstorm; or the earthy aroma rising from fresh-plowed fields in April.
As time passes, we collectively give up a great deal; yet we also gain in new and wondrous ways as we plow into an unknown future. Cades Cove reminds us from where our current American civilization arose; what we take back with us after a visit to these antique houses and barns is a renewed wonder at just how far we have come, and so fast. For better and for worse …
For more information about the history of Cades Cove, go to this excellent publication of the Great Smoky Mountains Association: Cades Cove Tour.
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