Just when you think you’ve got Gatlinburg all figured out, you stumble upon new information — a tidbit of knowledge, a piece of history — that adds to one’s appreciation of the city’s charm and singularity. Here are some facts that highlight what makes Gatlinburg a special place, not only in Tennessee, but in the entire United States and, in some cases, the entire world.
In case you aren’t already aware, here are some of Gatlinburg’s claims to fame:
- Gatlinburg was named after the most hated man in town. In the early 1800s, and her family became the first permanent white settlers in the region. If you visit Gatlinburg today, you’re likely to run into an Ogle or two, as many of Martha’s descendents still live in the region. While the Ogles were the area’s most prominent family, it was Radford Gatlin who would inspire the city’s modern name. Gatlin only moved to town in 1854, but because the post office was located in his general store, people started to call the city “Gatlinburg”. Although the city bears his name, Gatlin was hated by his neighbors for feuding with the Ogles and supporting the Confederacy in the Civil War.
- There are more fish in Ripley’s Aquarium than people who live in Gatlinburg. As crazy as it sounds, the above statement is true! While Gatlinburg receives over 11 million visitors per year, the city only has about 4,000 permanent residents. Meanwhile, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is home to over 10,000 sea creatures.
- Gatlinburg is the 2nd most popular wedding destination in the U.S. Another one of the most surprising facts about Gatlinburg is how many people get married here. Our Smoky Mountain city hosts more weddings than any other location in America, with the exception of Las Vegas.
- Gatlinburg is home to Tennesse’s only Sky Resort. Gatlinburg, TN is the only place in the state where you can go skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing! With its pristine slopes and high powered snow machine, the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort is one of the very best spots to enjoy winter sports in the Southeast.
- The Park may be known better for its black bear population, but did you know that it is also considered the “Salamander Capital of the World?” The Park is home to 24 species of lung-less salamanders.
- When it was settled in the early 19th century, Gatlinburg was initially known as “White Oak Flats” for the profusion of white oak trees in the region.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of only two locations in the world where you can witness the synchronous fireflies phenomenon.
- The Pancake Pantry is one of Tennessee’s oldest pancake house. It’s considered a Gatlinburg tradition, often having a line out the door on weekends. However, you will be impressed once you complete your delicious crepes & pancakes.
- The Smokies include part of the Appalachian Trail. A 70-mile stretch of the 2,178-mile Appalachian Trail winds through Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
- Gatlinburg is the Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited National Park in the United States. This free park is a National Treasure and offers over 800 square miles of beautiful nature, wildlife, & plantlife to view & hike.
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