Located at the doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, TN is one of the most popular vacation destinations in America! While millions of people around the country have visited Gatlinburg, many vacationers have never heard the story behind our Smoky Mountain city’s distinctive name. To help you prepare for your next getaway, Timber Tops Cabin Rentals is answering one of our most frequently asked questions: how did Gatlinburg get its name?
Gatlinburg’s First Name: White Oak Flats
Before it was known as “Gatlinburg,” our mountain town was called White Oak Flats, due to the preponderance of white oak trees in the area. White Oak Flats was first settled by William Ogle, who came to the Smokies from South Carolina around 1802. Ogle was in search of greener pastures for his wife, Martha Jane, and their seven children, and he believed he had found it in East Tennessee. William was taken with the natural beauty of the mountains and he referred to the area as “The Land of Paradise.”
To prepare for his family’s move from South Carolina, William laid the groundwork for a house in the Smoky Mountains. Ogle cut down local timber and hewed the logs for his new cabin before heading back home to collect Martha and the children. Tragically, William fell ill upon his return to South Carolina and passed away in 1803.
Four years later, Martha Jane, her brother Peter Huskey, and the Ogle children traveled to the Smokies to finish the cabin that William had started. After the War of 1812, many veterans and their families joined the Ogles in White Oak Flats, as they received 50-acre tracts for their service.
Radford Gatlin Moves to Town
In 1854, Radford Gatlin moved to White Oak Flats, where he set up a general store. A couple of years later, the community’s very first post office was established in Gatlin’s general store, and lo and behold, the town’s official name was changed to “Gatlinburg.” Not bad for a guy who had only moved to town around 24 months prior!
Despite lending the town his name, Radford Gatlin wasn’t particularly well liked in Gatlinburg. In fact, Gatlin was frequently fighting with his neighbors, including the descendants of William and Martha Jane Ogle. In 1857, a massive feud broke out between Gatlin and the Ogles when Radford tried to divert the town’s main road.
Gatlin was also at odds with his neighbors because of his political views. While most of Gatlinburg’s residents were pro-Union and against slavery, Radford supported the South’s secession from the United States. In 1859, the tension between Gatlin and the rest of the community reached a fever pitch and he was ultimately beaten up and forced out of the town bearing his name.
Where to Stay in Gatlinburg
Now that you know how Gatlinburg got its name, it’s time to start planning your vacation! When you stay with Timber Tops Cabin Rentals, you will be near all of the best attractions, restaurants, and shops in the Smokies. Our cabins come with your choice of awesome amenities, including beautiful mountain views, decks with hot tubs and rocking chairs, fully equipped kitchens, arcade games, theater rooms, and swimming pool access. With everything from 1 bedroom cabins to 15 bedroom lodges, we are sure to have the perfect accommodations for your getaway. To start planning your trip, browse our selection of Gatlinburg cabin rentals!