Have you ever wondered what life for the early settlers of the Smokies was like? Find out for yourself at The Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center. With fascinating exhibits and a reconstructed mountain village, this Smoky Mountain museum offers one of the most informative attractions in the region.
Resting on 5 acres in the peaceful mountain town of Townsend, the Mountain Heritage Center aims to preserve historical artifacts from East Tennessee's past and present its vivid, dynamic culture and history to visitors. From the villages of the Native Americans to early pioneers settlements, the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center offers insight to the daily life of those who lived in Smoky Mountain communities long ago.
The Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center Experience
For a small fee, visitors to the Smoky Mountains will treasure the chance to travel back in time to discover the heritage of the Appalachian region at this Smoky Mountain museum. By touring this Tennessee museum, guests can gain a good overview of the area's history from the Native American village to the early pioneer settlements. In generally, most guests allow around 1 hour and half to tour the facilities.
Inside, visitors can enjoy several fine exhibits that feature photographs and artifacts that paint a picture of what life was like for early settlers of Cades Cove and other mountain settlements. Additionally, a 20-minute informational video covers the history of the area, particularly the immediate area near Cades Cove.
Outside, guests will find a replica of a 19th century settlement, which feature 11 historic buildings that have been furnished according to the period in which they were built. Here visitors can tour buildings form the era, including a moonshine still, a log cabin home, and a church. Throughout the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, you can touch the many of the items on display, allowing you to touch the past and experience hands-on learning.
The 3 permanent exhibits of this mountain heritage museum include:
- Native Americans of East Tennessee - Located in the Main Gallery, visitors of the Smoky Mountain museum can discover what archaeologists have learned about life in Tuckaleechee Cove prior to European settlers arriving. From pottery to stone tools, this artifacts found in one of the largest archaeological dig projects in Tennessee history speak to the rich history of this area.
- East Tennessee Mountain Culture - Also located in the Main Gallery, visitors to the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center can see a log cabin made of hand-hewn logs, learn how grist mills operated, and cultivate an appreciation for the resilience and ingenuity of the pioneers of the Appalachian Mountains through observing the objects that made up their every daily life.
- Tennessee on the Move - The Transportation Gallery features everything from mules to Model T's, allowing guests to find out about the hardships and joys many people experienced while living in East Tennessee before modern highways and conveniences.
Additionally guests of the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center can take advantage of the traveling exhibits that offer different insights to the areas rich history including the Civil War and other local periods of interest.
Live Music at the Smokies Heritage Center
The Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Museum hosts local musical artists on Friday nights. From Scottish and Irish to Jazz, Blues to Gospel backgrounds, these concerts allow guests to hear the heritage of the the Smokies. With unique fusions of genres and great musicianship, these concerts make for a great way to enjoy a weekend in the Smokies. So, come enjoy the twang of the banjo and the trill of the fiddle as you take in the gorgeous scenery around you.
The Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center offers visitors of the Smokies a chance to experience the rich heritage of the region, both past and present. Guests staying in Wears Valley will enjoy making a trip down to this museum to a informative experience on this interesting and varied region.
Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center
123 Cromwell Drive
Townsend, TN 37882
Written by Brittany Tipton