CADES COVE: Appalachian Lives in the Past Tense

The windows of the upper floor of the Tipton Place stare back

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.

Hayloft in the LeQuire Cantilever Barn

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 …

Recalling an infant with wonderful words: “Budded on earth to bloom in Heaven.”

Interior of The Primitive Baptist Church

Back porch of the Tipton House

Curtains catching afternoon light at the Gregg-Cable House

Elegant window of the Cades Cove Methodist Church

Ox yoke and log detail at the LeQuire Cantilever Barn

Pews in The Primitive Baptist Church of Cades Cove

Interior of the Tipton House

Window detail in the Tipton House

For more information about the history of Cades Cove, go to this excellent publication of the Great Smoky Mountains Association: Cades Cove Tour.

To see my web site, which includes photographic prints for sale, please go to

To see thousands of my photographs in large file sizes for use in magazines or other printed materials or electronic media, go to my PhotoShelter Website.

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