Long before it became one of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States, Gatlinburg, TN, was just a small mountain town called White Oaks Flats. The name came from the beautiful white oak trees that surrounded the area.

Things to Do Map: Gatlinburg.com

Introduction to Gatlinburg, TN

The Smoky Mountain history of Gatlinburg begins in 1854 when a man named Radford Gatlin moved to the area and opened the second general store in White Oaks Flats. A couple of years later, he opened a post office inside his store, which resulted in changing the name of the town to Gatlinburg.

However, Radford Gatlin was not without his own controversies in the area. He is best remembered as being an outspoken controversial figure who strongly supported the Confederacy. In case you aren’t familiar, the families living in East Tennessee during the 19th Century were pro-Union, so Gatlin’s pro-Confederacy stance caused quite a stir.

Radford Gatlin was eventually asked to leave the area because of his views, but his memory is still honored within the name of the town.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park
History of Gatlinburg

Most people know Gatlinburg as a city filled with exciting attractions, local restaurants and true Southern charm. What many travelers don’t know is how the name ‘Gatlinburg’ came about, but we’re here to give you all the details!

In the 19th century, the first settlers made their way to the Smoky Mountains. These people made their homes in an area known as White Oaks Flats. White Oaks Flats was the perfect name for this quaint town that was covered in nothing but white oak trees.

Radford Gatlin established the second general store in White Oaks Flats when he moved to the area around 1854. He had only been in the town for a couple of years when a post office became part of his general store. With the creation of the post office, the town changed its name to Gatlinburg, most likely because Gatlin was the owner of the general store.



Great Smoky Mountains

Cascading waterfalls, roaming wildlife and a view that stretches out over 500,000 acres – this is the country’s most-visited national park. Vacationers often start in Gatlinburg and make their way to one of the park’s famous paths where they can find everything they’ve been looking for. A hike through the Great Smoky Mountains – whether it be on the Appalachian Trail itself, a wildflower walk, or a trip to one of the many waterfalls – will leave you with a smile and a lasting impression. Because the experience changes season to season, there’s always a new scene to come explore.

Gatlinburg Events Calendar

Top Attractions of Gatlinburg


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