Historic Places To Visit In The Great Smoky Mountains

When you’re driving past all the lights and attractions in Pigeon Forge, it’s easy to forget about the history of this mountain community.  From the heart of Pigeon Forge to the Smoky Mountains National park, you’ll find a variety of well-preserved historic buildings, some constructed in the 1800s. Everyone in your group will love exploring these Appalachian homesteads from years gone by.  Here are a few of Willow Brook Lodge’s picks for historic places to visit for new mountain memories.

The Old Mill

Over 189 years after its initial construction, The Old Mill is still in operation today!  Located next to the Little Pigeon River in the heart of the city, this iconic grist mill was built in 1830.  In 1841, the area’s first post office was established at The Old Mill and the community became officially known as “Pigeon Forge”.  In the early 1900s, The Old Mill provided electricity for the city of Pigeon Forge.  Visitors today can take a tour of the mill and learn how it works. 


You’ll find the historic town of Elkmont inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Established by The Little River Lumber Company in 1908, this community was first a logging camp and then later a resort community for wealthy visitors to the Smokies.   When the national park was established, many seasonal residents in Elkmont obtained lifetime leases for their summer cottages. Most of these leases expired in 1992, leaving the buildings abandoned and the once thriving city a ghost town.  The National Park Service has committed to restoring and preserving 19 of the historic buildings.

Cades Cove

Visited by over 2 million people each year, Cades  Cove is the most visited area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This beautiful valley is known for its collection of beautifully preserved historic buildings. Some of the notable landmarks include  the John Oliver Cabin (the first cabin built in the valley), the Primitive Baptist Church, the barn at the Tipton Place, and the John P. Cable Grist Mill.

Historic Ogle Cabin

Directly across the street from Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, the Ogle Cabin is the first log home built in Gatlinburg.  William Ogle began constructing the cabin 1802. Sadly, William passed away before it was completed. His wife Martha and her family moved to White Oak Flatts, the area that would later become Gatlinburg,  becoming the first European settlers of the area.

Harrisburg Covered Bridge

One of only four in the entire state of Tennessee, the Harrisburg Covered Bridge was built in 1875 by Elbert Stephenson Early. The 83 foot long bridge, located off US 411 in Sevierville,  straddles the East Fork of the Little Pigeon River. The Harrisburg Covered Bridge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. It was restored 1983 and extensive renovations in 2004.  The bridge is still open for traffic today.

Guests of Willow Brook Lodge will find themselves minutes from these and many other historic Smoky Mountain sites.  With so many to choose from, you’re sure to find one everyone will enjoy. You may even need a few more days to explore them all!

Come as our guest.  Leave as our family.