history

Wilma Dykeman- A Legacy of Conservation

Newport’s and Cocke County’s history is woven together with the stories of Appalachian life, mountains, rivers, and the people who lived here.

If you don’t know this name- Wilma Dykeman- you should.   Author, conservationist, activist, and historian, Ms. Dykeman’s legacy in Cocke County touches the very water we drink, fish, and play in, while her writing have captured the imagination of so many who come to visit the Smokies.

She chronicled the French Broad as a river, a watershed, and a way of life where yesterday and tomorrow meet in odd and fascinating harmony. And how was she to know, that her assertion that environmental sensitivity can encourage broad-based economic development without risking the balance between nature and commerce.

Her romance with Appalachia’s beauty and with her future husband led her to the ribbon cutting dedication of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park on Oct 2, 1940.  A month later, she would marry and eventually move to her husband’s family home in Newport, TN along the bluffs of the Pigeon River.   Her life’s work is marked by her legacy.

Read more about the work of this incredible woman here.

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Day trippin’ in Cocke County TN- Parrotsville

Cocke County is filled with historic sites to see such as the Swaggerty Fort in Parrottsville.

Tucked in the northeast corner of Cocke County, the average traveler would not necessarily find Parrottsville, unless they were driving from Newport to Greensville. Along the way, a traveler would discover that Parrottsville is one of the oldest towns in Tennessee dating back to 1780, a decade before Tennessee became a state and just a few years post American Revolution.

The original settlers of Parrottsville came from Germany.  Two properties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Yett Ellison House (1857) on Main St and the Swaggerty Block House  just north of the downtown on 321 along Clear Creek.

A controversy regarding the  date of the structure and purpose was debated until 2009.  Blockhouses were fortifications built on edges of the western frontier to protect settlers and to protect Indian lands.  The name Swaggerty dates back to an early settler- James Swaggerty, around the time of 1787.  Conflict between the settlers and Native Americans were heightened due the Indigenous People’s alliance with the British during the Revolutionary War, and with the repeated breaking of land treaties by settler expansion onto tribal lands.

While the Swaggerty blockhouse has features of a frontier blockhouse, research conducted by graduate student,  D Mann, University of TN in 2009* proved that the building was likely built in 1860 by land owner and farmer, Jacob Stephens.

*https://trace.tennessee.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=7592&context=utk_gradthes

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Celebrating Cosby- 2023 Summer Programming Announced

Each summer, the Great Smoky Mountain  National Park Service teams up with Cocke County Tourism to host the “Celebrating Cosby”   community programming which honors the rich cultural and natural history of the Cosby area through storytelling, dance, music, and history walks.

“These programs offer incredible opportunities for visitors to discover Cosby by experiencing it firsthand with the people who live and work here,” said Chief of Resource Education Stephanie Kyriazis. “We are grateful to our friends from the local community who are leading these unique experiences.”

Plan your visit to the Smokies to include these fun, free events held in the Cosby Campgrounds.

July 7, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Moonshiners

White lightning, mountain dew, moonshine! Come distill myth from fact as you learn details of making moonshine in the mountains from Moonshine Legends Mark Ramsey, Digger Manes, and Kelly Williamson.

July 14, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Cosby Homecoming

Join Park Rangers and Cosby residents as grandchildren, children, and elders share the stories of their families in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Take a walk down memory lane to learn first-hand about what life was like living and working in Cosby both prior to and after the establishment of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

 

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The Legend of the Moon Pie- A Campfire Story

Summer’s sticky sweetness is often celebrated around a blazing campfire with the delicious making of  the confection called ‘smores and the storytelling of tall tales and folk legends.

Here on the Adventure Side of the Smokies, the legend of the Moon Pie is a story worth telling.

Marshmallows and graham crackers are the stuff legends are made of. Near one of the entrances to the sprawling Union Cemetery in Newport, you’ll find the grave of Earl Mitchell, a salesman for the Chattanooga Bakery and the force behind the Moon Pie.  Mitchell was born in nearby Greene County and his travel route brought him to towns in East Tennessee and Kentucky.

According to the company website, Mitchell got the idea for the Moon Pie  after a conversation with a Kentucky Coal miner in 1917.  The miner wanted a snack “as big as the moon” and Mitchell delivered with a snack that would fit in a lunch pail.   A small marker at the foot of Mitchell’s grave gives him credit for “inventing” the Moon Pie.  Quite often folks will leave a Moon Pie and an RC cola at the foot of his grave

Which gooey confection of graham crackers, marshmallow, and chocolate came first?  The Moon Pie was being sold by 1917, and has been continuously produced for over one hundred years.

Legend has it that roasting marshmallows began as early as 1890.  The first recipe for ‘smores appeared as a recipe in a Girl Scout handbook in 1927.

It seems that the irresistible  combination of chocolate, marshmallow, and graham crackers have continued to be a sweet treat for many generations.

Contributed by Clayton Hensley, #knoxroadtripper

 

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