The Cherokee name for this 6,800-acre valley is Tsiyahi, place of otters. Its English name may have come from a Cherokee chief called Kade. For hundreds of years Cherokee Indians hunted in Cades Cove, but there is no evidence of major settlements. Under the terms of the Calhoun Treaty of 1819, the Cherokee forfeited their rights to Cades Cove, and the first white settlers came in the early 1820s. By the middle of the 19th century, well over 100 families lived in the cove,
growing corn, wheat, oats, cane, and vegetables. For a while, when government-licensed distilleries were allowed in Tennessee, corn whiskey was the major product of the valley, and even after Tennessee went dry in 1876 illegal moonshine was still produced. After the establishment of the park in the 1930s, many of the nearly 200 buildings were torn down to allow the land to revert to its natural state. However, in 1940 the Park Service decided that the human history of the valley was worth preserving. Since then, the bottomlands in the cove have been maintained as open fields, and the remaining farmsteads and other structures have been restored to depict life in Cades Cove as it was from around 1825 to 1900. Today, Cades Cove has more historic buildings than any other area in the park. Driving, hiking, or biking the 11-mi Cades Cove Loop Road, you can see three old churches (Methodist, Primitive Baptist, and Missionary Baptist), a working gristmill (Cable Mill), a number of log cabins and houses in a variety of styles, and many outbuildings, including cantilevered barns, which used balanced beams to support large overhangs.
Cades Cove Loop Rd., Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina, 37882, United States
865-436–1200-park information line