Trolls on the Loose in the Smokies

Overview of downtown GatlinburgLong ago in Scandinavia, folk tales circulated about small, gnome-like trolls that occupied small caves and forests. They were told around campfires and captured the imaginations of children. At the time, they didn’t realize these stories and magical trolls would make their way to a shop in the Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community.

When husband and wife Ken and Neta Arensbak arrived in the United States in 1959, they brought the tales of wonder and adventure with them and shared these stories with anyone who had a love of fantasy and magic.

Eventually, after telling the stories so much, Ken Arensbak wondered, “What would these trolls look like?” As a Christmas present for his children, Arensbak combed the woods for acorns, pine cones, branches, and nuts, and then used them to craft a model of a troll. Not only did his children adore the magical little character he had presented them, but his friends and neighbors fell in love with it, too.

Over time, for those friends, neighbors, and for anyone who asked, Arensbak produced several dozen. He crafted troll after troll, and then eventually took to writing unique stories for each individual creature, even determining their “ages” by multiplying their heights by 10.

Demand for his trolls grew and grew, eventually attracting the interests of local shops and retailers. Carving these sculptures by hand was indeed a very long process, and given that long list of demands, Ken Arensbak was unable to pursue his love of painting. The task then went to his wife, Neta, and their children, who happily filled the demands and sent out plenty of the trolls to local shops, which now attract much attention from tourists.

Soon enough, they had a solid, viable business, and they called it ‘5 Arts Studio.’ This Smoky Mountain shop has become a unique place for visitors to stop and enjoy the historical aspect of the Arensbak trolls. The Arensbak trolls are also available at ‘A Troll in the Park,’ located in the Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community.

Approximately 40 years later, they continue to produce troll after troll at their studio near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Accepting creative input from collectors and customers, the range and variety of these trolls continue to grow. The Arensbak family has produced their own little world, populated by these whimsical, wooden characters.

After visiting a Smoky Mountain shop and picking up a few Arensbak trolls, you will enjoy making your way back to one of Timber Tops’ Gatlinburg cabins. Timber Tops Luxury Cabin Rentals provides a number of amenities to make your stay unique and memorable. Call us at (800) 266-1066 to plan your trip to the Smoky Mountains!

Second photograph provided by the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Hi, my name is Emily Wolff. I am a writer and editor based in East Tennessee, right in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. I have enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember, but I truly fell in love with it as a young adult. Some of my favorite things include makeup, magazines and ice cream with sprinkles. Thank you for taking the time to read about me; I hope you’ll continue to follow my writings about the Smoky Mountain area on this website!