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Gatlinburg is celebrating its 75th anniversary! The month of March marks 75 years since the city was officially formed in 1945. However, the city is celebrating all year long! Join us in the Smoky Mountains to celebrate the beautiful town of Gatlinburg and how far it’s come over the years. To help you learn more, we’ve created a guide to Gatlinburg’s anniversary and how the area has evolved over the last 75 years.
Gatlinburg’s Year-Long Anniversary Celebration
Throughout the year, the city of Gatlinburg will celebrate by sharing the stories of the people who made the town what it is today. The stories will highlight everyone from the first settlers in the area to those who have continued to carry on their legacy throughout the years. When you visit Gatlinburg during 2020, you’ll have the opportunity to join in the celebration and take a look back at Gatlinburg’s history. Celebrate this beautiful town by visiting the attractions, exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or simply chatting with locals to listen to their stories! There are also more big things in store for Gatlinburg in its 75th year. Anakeesta is undergoing its biggest expansion ever with the addition of an observation tower that will be the tallest point in downtown Gatlinburg! There are also new restaurants, attractions and shops that will open this year, so be on the lookout for more ways to have fun and celebrate.
The History of Gatlinburg
Before it became Gatlinburg, the area was first called White Oak Flats. The name came from all the white oak trees that surrounded the area. The first settlers of White Oak Flats came in 1807. Martha Ogle and her family moved into a cabin in the spot her husband had chosen for their family home before he passed.
In 1854, a man named Radford Gatlin moved to the area and opened a second general store in the town. In 1856, a post office was established inside the store, and the town name changed to Gatlinburg in his honor. Eventually, Radford Gatlin was banished from the area, but his memory still lived on through the town’s name. Learn more here.
Although this small mountain town has continued its growth for over 200 years, it wasn’t until 1945 that the city got its official charter.
Timeline of Gatlinburg’s History
1802: William Ogle marked the spot where he would build his family home.
1912: Pi Beta Phi Fraternity of Women found the Settlement School, which would later become the Arrowmont School.
1920s: Logging industry takes off and the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club has its first meeting in 1924.
1930s: New lodging options open, providing more opportunities for tourists.
1940s: President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicates the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Sept. 2, 1940.
1950s-1970s: Attractions started opening in town. The Gatlinburg SkyLift opened in 1954 and the Hunter Hills Theater held its first show a year later. The Space Needle opened the start of the 70s, followed by Sweet Fanny Adams Theater, Hillbilly Golf, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, The Village Shops, Ober Gatlinburg’s Aerial Tram and more.
1980s: Dollywood and the Gatlinburg Convention Center open.
1990s: Smoky Mountain Winterfest celebrated its first year at the beginning of the decade.
2000s: Began with the opening of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and continued to see more growth and exciting new attractions, restaurants and shops throughout the years.
Plan Your Visit to Gatlinburg!
Don’t miss your chance to visit Gatlinburg during its 75th year to celebrate its success! Spend your time visiting attractions both old and new, from the Gatlinburg Space Needle to Anakeesta. To start planning your trip, browse our great selection of available cabin rentals in Gatlinburg and find the perfect place to stay while you’re here!