About The Land, Its People and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Land, Its People and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park explores the park’s uncommon creation and how it came to be known as a "gift of the people." Delving into the industry that changed the park, how the park shaped the people and how the people shaped the park, the film offers a unique and comprehensive view of what many of us consider to be our own backyard.

The film begins with the Cherokee Indians' story of how the mountains were created and moves through the European expansionism and the eventual settlement of the area we know of as the Great Smoky Mountains.

“My ancestors, came in here in eighteen and thirty-six,” says Raymond Caldwell, former resident of Cataloochee. "They had a hard time farming, they were farmers, and they knew about this land ... so they started chopping out a living here clearing land.” The narrative continues to reveal the impact the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution had on the mountains and the people.

Learn how leaders like Anne Davis, the third woman elected to Tennessee’s House of Representatives, impacted the park and its creation. Other influential leaders featured include Colonel David C. Chapman and photographer Jim Thompson. Many credit Thompson's photographs for making the park a possibility.

“He saw the value of a park on the State Line both as a conservationist, which he was and from a businessman’s perspective,” said Thompson’s grandson Jim. “He could see the value of bringing people to the area.”

“One of the most important things about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, that is unique in the National Park System, is the historical connection between the people and communities of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina and this feeling of ownership in many ways,” said Dr. Dan Pierce, Head of the History Department at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. “For a lot of people in both states, they had ancestors who actually lived in the park ... and I think this has been a real historical strength.”

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