Sunday, April 8, 2012

Hello Dolly

A life-size bronze of Dolly Parton,
barefoot and 28,  at the courthouse. 
Actress and singer Dolly Parton was born in the town of Sevierville Tennessee in 1946—six years after another important event happened here: the dedication of Great Smoky National Park, more than half a million acres of woodland hills and mountains.

The vast expanse of woodland is unmatched in the eastern United States. It is estimated by the National Park Service that 95% of the park is forested and that 36% is old growth, some trees dating back before the first European settlers came here.

The park is unusual in a number of ways. For one thing it is wet: 55 inches of annual rainfall in the valleys and 85 inches of rain among the peaks makes it the wettest area in the United States outside of the Pacific Northwest and parts of Alaska.

It is an officially designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. More than 10,000 documented species of animals and plants live here and some estimates place the total number of undocumented diversity as high as 100,000.

From Wikipedia:

Park officials count more than 200 species of birds, 66 species of mammals, 50 species of fish, 39 species of reptiles, and 43 species of amphibians, including many lungless salamanders. The park has a noteworthy black bear population, numbering at least 1,800. An experimental re-introduction of elk (wapiti) into the park began in 2001.

Over 100 species of trees grow in the park. The lower region forests are dominated by deciduous leafy trees. At higher altitudes, deciduous forests give way to coniferous trees like Fraser Fir. In addition, the park has over 1,400 flowering plant species and over 4,000 species of non-flowering plants.

The mountains' north-south orientation creates a natural migration path for wildlife and also partly explains the first settlements here.

Traders in the area were able to move their trade goods and do business with the Cherokee Indians. Logging became a major industry along with hunting, fishing, trapping and later farming.

In 1830 President Andrew Jackson banished the East Coast Indian populations to reservations in Oklahoma, but few steadfast Cherokee in the area led by renegade Chief Tsali took to the mountains. Today some of their descendants live in area and on the Qualla Reservation south.

The opening of the park and widespread use of the automobile after World War II brought prosperity to a little town originally known as Pigeon Forge.

To celebrate its bicentennial Sevierville buried a time capsule on the lawn of the county courthouse in 1995, to be opened in 2045.

After so many years of history 50 years seems a very short time to wait. The Parton family settled here in 1850 or so and was almost 100 years later before Dolly was born.

Disclaimer: I stopped here because my grandmother, Carrie Dempsey Marshall, was born in Sevierville and  loved the Smokies.. She also played the guitar.


  1. Didn't know the Smokies rose to such high elevations. Interesting post! Thanks.