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Cataloochee barn

A Hidden Smoky Mountain Gem: Exploring the Jim Hannah Cabin

You already know that there’s plenty of fun and exciting things to explore in the Smoky Mountains. Popular attractions can be a good time, but at times get overcrowded with folks. That’s why we’re always on the search for hidden gems in the Smokies that we know you and your family are going to love exploring! Unique historical attractions provide great fun with a side of history. Look no further than the Jim Hannah Cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Here’s what to know about exploring the Jim Hannah Cabin:

About the Jim Hannah Cabin

The Jim Hannah Cabin is an early settlement cabin built in 1864 by John Jackson Hannah, a son of one of the original settlers in the Smoky Mountains! Hannah picked this place for his cabin in the Little Cataloochee region because all the land was already taken by settlers in the nearby Big Cataloochee area, a highly desirable place.

Today, the Jim Hannah Cabin is open for visitors throughout the year! While it’s empty inside, guests are more than welcome to explore in and around the cabin!

John’s son Jim Hannah lived in this log cabin until the 1930s when the area became part of the national park. Jim was a jack of all trades in his day, serving as a farmer, beekeeper, sawyer, justice of peace and a Sunday school teacher.

The main crop in the Little Cataloochee region was apples. When the cabin was operational, it featured a rail fence that enclosed the yard, an apple orchard on the property and rolling hills.

Features of the Jim Hannah Cabin

This modest settlement is a great glimpse into the way of life back in the early days of the Smoky Mountains! Inside, the cabin features just 2 rooms: upstairs and downstairs. It’s nothing special, just exactly what the settlers needed to get by each day. You’ll see obvious cracks and holes in both the roof and the walls. Imagine just how cold that place used to get!

This log cabin features a chimney that is 1 of just 3 surviving brick chimneys in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Inside you’ll also notice a beautiful brick fireplace. If you look closely at the exterior of the cabin, you’ll find names engraved in the logs from decades of visitors. Rickety wooden floorboards are wide and over an inch thick, a vast difference from today’s houses.

How to Reach the Jim Hannah Cabin

Beech Grove School

The Jim Hannah Cabin is located about a mile back on the Little Cataloochee Trail and can only be reached via hike or horseback. The mountain trail is of moderate difficulty and follows alongside a stream. If you visit after heavy rains, be careful as the area can get quite muddy.

The Little Cataloochee Trail runs about 6 miles one-way. The trail can be accessed from the southern end at the Beech Grove School in Big Cataloochee by following 0.8 miles down the Pretty Hollow Gap Trail to the intersection with the Little Cataloochee Trail. To reach the area from the northern side, follow the dirt road between the Cataloochee and Big Creek areas.

Another Exciting Historical Attraction

Just a short trek further down the Little Cataloochee Trail and you’ll find the Cataloochee Baptist Church and Cemetery! Located about 2 miles back on the trail, just continue past the Jim Hannah Cabin until you see the church.

Built in 1889, the Cataloochee Baptist Church features a white exterior with white wooden pews and a large wood-burning stove inside to keep the congregation warm during the winter. A tall belfry was added in 1914 that houses a bell that you are welcome to ring if you so choose!

The congregation held worship services once or twice a month. These services tended to be more informal as men in the congregation would frequently come and go during worship. Outside the church, men would socialize, whittle wooden objects and smoke and chew tobacco.

The cemetery in front of the church is the final resting place for many of the early Smoky Mountain settlers.

The Jim Hannah Cabin is a fascinating hidden gem in the Smoky Mountains that you have to visit! If you’re in search of more hidden gems in the area, we’ve got you covered! Learn more about the Voorheis Estate and the House of Fairies!