History of Great Smoky Mountains National Park
On June 15, 1934, Great Smoky Mountains National Park was officially established. That is the date on which Congress authorized "full establishment, for full development." Great Smoky Mountains National Park has an average of over 10 million visitors each year, making it the most visited national park in America. Historic Buildings & Structures
The Park is one of the most topographically, biologically, and climatically diverse areas known (GSMNP 1990, USDI 1981a and 1981b, USDI 1982). Its lowest point, at the mouth of Abrams Creek in Tennessee, is 840 feet above sea level; its highest point is 6,642 feet, atop Clingmans Dome. This difference of over 5,800 feet makes it possible to gain a vertical mile within the Park's boundaries. Because of its remarkable diversity, the Park is an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site, two special titles accorded by the United Nations in recognition of the Park's biological diversity and the National Park Service's leadership in preserving it.
Although the park was established in 1934, ten years more were required to tie up loose ends; in finalizing the purchase of lands and many other difficulties that went along with making the Smokies a national park.
Mrs. Willis P. Davis started the successful movement. Without her efforts, there would be no national park in the Smokies.
A debt of gratitude belongs to Mrs. Davis and her husband; also to Colonel David C. Chapman, Ben A. Morton, Frank Maloney, Governor Austin Peay and to many other individuals for their work on the Tennessee side of the mountains. Gratitude also goes to Senator Mark Squires, Dr. E. C. Brooks, Plato D. Ebbs, Horace Kephart, Congressman Zebulon Weaver, Charles A. Webb and their many workers on the North Carolina side of the mountains; also to the officials of the National Park Service -- Directors Stephen T. Mather, Horace M. Albright, and Arna B. Camerer; and to John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
Prior to establishment of the National Park, logging camps operated in much of the Smoky Mountains region. Elkmont, Tremont, and Smokemont were all logging camps in the early 1900s. Elkmont and Smokemont are both campgrounds within Park and are situated on mountain rivers.