So what was it like to travel to the budding Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1933? Thanks to the National Park Service for publishing hundreds of historical park brochures on their website, we can now look at the very first park brochure ever published for the Smokies, and get an idea of what the park was like in 1933.
The brochure includes photographs by George Masa and Jim Thompson, quotes from Horace Kephart, as well as information regarding the Qualla (Cherokee) Indian Reservation, fishing, hiking, wild animals, etc.
In 1933 there were only 297,000 acres under the administration and protection of the National Park Service. For prospective visitors, the brochure warns that:
“As the United States is prohibited by law from undertaking any development of the park until the minimum of 427,000 acres has been turned over to it for that purpose, visitors will not find the conveniences and interesting activities they are used to in the other national parks of the system.”
With regards to the neighboring Cherokees, the brochure points out:
“The Indians still play the Cherokee game of ball — a sport far too strenuous for members of the Caucasian race.”
Listed at that time as having an elevation of only 5860 feet, Andrews Bald has grown another 60 feet somewhere along the way! Though I should point out that they were real close to the correct elevation for Clingsman Dome, listing it as 6642 feet, rather than the 6643 feet that it's measured at today.
Interstingly, a that time; “Deer are practically exterminated.” Wow, how times have changed!
Apparently there were lodges located in Cades Cove in the early 1930s. Both John Oliver's Lodge and the Ekaneetlee Lodge offered overnight accommodations for just $2.00 a night. A room at the Wonderland Club Hotel in Elkmont could be reserved for $3.50 — $4.00. And the going rates for the Mountain View Hotel in Gatlinburg were $3.50 — $6.00. Only two other hotels were listed for Gatlinburg at that time: the Riverside Hotel and the Indian Gap Hotel. My guess is that visitors didn't have to fight traffic all day long to get through town back then.
What if you wished to camp in the park? Well, here were the guidelines you had to abide by:
"When the development of the park is undertaken by the National Park Service, adequate camping places with pure water and other necessities will be provided. Until such time no camping over night or fires of any sort will be permitted except by special permit of the superintendent or his authorized representatives. In such instances the following rules must be carefully observed: Wood for fuel only can be taken from dead or fallen trees. Combustible rubbish shall be burned on camp fires, and all other garbage and refuse of all kinds shall be buried."
Oh, and don't expect to gamble, or bring dynamite into the park!
This is really an interesting read, especially if you enjoy the history of the park. You can read the entire brochure by clicking here.