Many people don’t know the history of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and how it came to be as diverse and unique as it is today. Here’s 3 things you should know about the national park and what makes it the best national park in the world:
(See Also: How Your Kids Can Become Junior Rangers in the National Park)
Hernando De Soto
Some of the earliest records of the Great Smoky Mountains stretch as far back as Hernando De Soto’s arrival. He explored the southern Appalachian Mountains and encountered the Cherokee Indians. At this time, the Cherokee were the only inhabitants of the area. It wasn’t until around 1818 that people began settling in Cades Cove.
Elimination of Elk
About 150 years ago, elk were over-hunted and eventually eliminated from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In 2001, the National Park Service began the reintroduction of elk into the mountains, placing 25 elk for their first attempt. The process went well, so they continued by placing 24 more elk into the mountains in 2002. Now, the Great Smoky Mountains is home to over 120 healthy elk who graze the mountainsides.
The Great Smoky Mountains is home to over 100 historic buildings, including a complete collection of southern Appalachian log cabins, barns and related outbuildings. Some of the buildings dated back to the 1830s. These historic buildings can be found throughout the national park, on hiking trails and auto tours in the Smokies.
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