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Epilogue Today the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most popular park in the nation, attracting 9.3 million visitors in 1985. Cades Cove is one of the greatest attractions of this park, preserving there, as the National Park Service maintains, an authentic living museum of native Southern Appalachian culture in the extant cabins and remaining structures. What is perhaps most intriguing to the cove's visitors , however, are the traces of forgotten hom~steads, betrayed each spring by jonquils, roses, and hyacinths appearing in profusion unexpectedly in the middle of open meadows. By 1935 it was apparent to the Park Service that its policy of allowing the cove to return to its wilderness state was a serious mistake. Cades Cove's great beauty and charm had always been the contrast of its carefully cultivated fields and farms surrounded by high mountains. A wilderness cove, indistinguishable from the forests of its bordering wilderness, presented little of interest or scenic beauty to the tourist. A solution to the problem of what to do with Cades Cove, now that it was depopulated, appeared in a 1935 letter from Waldo G. Leland, permanent secretary of the American Council of Learned Societies, to Arno B. Cammerer, director of the National Park Service. Leland strongly urged that some effort be made to both record and preserve the extant native culture and lifestyle of the Great Smokies before the advent of millions of tourists erased this last remaining vestige of Southern Appalachia. Two lengthy studies for the National Park Service by Charles S. Grossman and Hans Huth followed which carefully defined this cul- 256 Cades Cove I A Southern Appalachian Community ture and the best means of preserving it. Here was yet another incident characteristic of a pattern of America's approach to Southern Appalachia so lucidly examined in Henry D. Shapiro's Appalachia On Our Mind. Having fairly rid the cove of its bothersome native inhabitants, the National Park Service sought national authorities to define and reproduce their native culture so recently expired. The results of these studies would have been completely satisfying to both Mary Noailles Murfree and Horace Kephart because most of their enduring stereotypes were clearly reflected in the final product. All modern structures, particularly numerous homes of frame construction , were obliterated. The single guiding principle was that anything which might remotely suggest progress or advancement beyond the most primitive stages should be destroyed. A sort of pioneer primitivism alone survived in the cove structures left standing. It was as though, having destroyed the community of Cades Cove by eminent domain, the community's corpse was now to be mutilated beyond recognition. If the history of the cove had any meaning, it was simply that the people followed regional and national patterns of development . Cove residents witnessed many periods of progressive development in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They were neither the picturesque, superhuman, and romanticized figures of Mary Noailles Murfree nor the wretched backward creatures living in depravity and degradation as represented by Horace Kephart. Rather, they were in the final analysis representative of the broad mainstream of nineteenth- and twentieth-century American culture and society from whence they came: ordinary, decent citizens who often reacted collectively- and within their limitations, courageously and responsibly - to the enormous economic fluctuation, social change, and political disruption surrounding their lives in the last two centuries within the American commonwealth. In the peaceful cemetery of the old Primitive Baptist church lie the first and last John Oliver- the founding settler and his great-grandson - some sixty feet apart. Within these four generations of Olivers the community of Cades Cove was born, flourished for a season, and died. Nothing can rob them now of their beloved cove or cherished community. To these sleeping patriarchs, the whole cove has become itself a larger graveyard for the community, since only their ghosts re- Epilogue 257 member in minute detail the place names and lore of its streams and meadows, forgotten orchards and abandoned homesteads. With the passage of time, the collective consciousness of their community has dimmed to extinction, but among their descendants its afterglow still illumines Cades Cove. ...


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