KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — As we come to the end of the year, take a look back in time at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Bringing a national park to the Smoky Mountains was not a short process. The idea began in the last 1890s according to the National Park Service.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park through the years
In May 1926, a bill was signed by President Calvin Coolidge that provided for the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park. By 1928, enough money had been raised to purchase the land for the park. However, buying the land was difficult.
The creation of the park meant that hundreds of families were asked to move out of their homes. According to the National Park Service, some went willingly, and others fought against it, but most families moved immediately.
Those who were too old or too sick to move were granted lifetime leases. This includes the Walker sisters, who lived in the park until their deaths in the 1960s. Others were granted leases on a short-term basis. However, they could not cut timber, hunt and trap at-will as they had previously.
The park was formally dedicated in September 1940. President Franklin Roosevelt spoke from the Rockefeller Memorial at Newfound Gap astride the Tennessee-North Carolina state line.
To learn more about the history of the park, click here.