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If you’ve ever driven the Cades Cove Loop, you know that some of the best sights to see along your scenic drive are historic structures. Cades Cove is rich in history, and there are so many places you can explore when you visit. Three of the best historic structures in the area are the beautiful churches. To help you learn more about them, we’ve put together a guide to the 3 historic Cades Cove churches:
1. Primitive Baptist Church
Before the Baptist Church was founded in Cades Cove in 1827, people living there had to travel through the Smoky Mountains to Millers and Wears Cove to attend a Sunday meeting. They also attended campground revivals in Tuckaleechee Cove, which is now Townsend. Over time, a conflict developed over biblical interpretation. Some said the scripture allowed for missionary work, while others said it did not. This caused the Cades Cove Baptists to rename their church to distinguish it from Baptists with other beliefs. The Primitive Baptist Church got its name in 1841. It wasn’t until 1887 that the familiar white frame church you see along the loop today was built. Up until then, the small congregation met in a log structure.
The Primitive Baptist Church is the first church you’ll reach along the loop. You can get to the church by turning left on the road right after the John Oliver Cabin.
2. Methodist Church
As early as the 1820s, Methodists were active in Cades Cove. However, it wasn’t until 1902 that the building standing in the cove was built. It took 115 days for the church to be built, at a cost of $115. The building features two front doors so that the men could enter and sit on one side of the chapel, and women and children could enter and sit on the other side of the chapel.
The Methodist Church comes right after the Primitive Baptist Church when you’re driving along Cades Cove Loop Road, making it the third historic structure on the loop.
3. Missionary Baptist Church
The split in the Cades Cove Baptist Church became known as the Anit-Division Split, and that’s how the Missionary Baptist Church in Cades Cove was born. Pastor John Adams and other congregation members established the church in 1841. Because they originally had no meeting place, they met in individual homes. In 1894, they were able to build their own structure on Hyatt Hill. As the church congregation grew, a new church was built in 1915. This is the building you can see along the Cades Cove Loop Road today!
The Missionary Baptist Church is the last church along the loop road.
Can You Go Inside the Cades Cove Churches?
Are you wondering if you can actually go inside the Cades Cove churches to explore? The answer is yes! Walking inside the churches gives you a feeling of what worship was like back in the day. If you look up, you can see handprints in sap on the wood-planked ceiling where the carpenter set the boards by hand! We recommend bringing your phone or camera with you to take pictures.
Other Historic Structures in Cades Cove
The 3 historic churches in Cades Cove are just a few of the historic churches you’ll have the opportunity to see in the area. The first stop along the loop is the John Oliver Cabin, which is named after one of the first pioneers to move into Cades Cove. This cabin remained in the Oliver family for over 100 years before it was eventually taken over by the National Park Service. Other historic structures in Cades Cove include the Cable Mill, Henry Whitehead Place, Dan Lawson Place and more.
More About Cades Cove
Cades Cove is one of the most popular areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Cades Cove Loop Road is an 11-mile, one-way road that allows visitors to explore the area from the comfort of their cars. There are also trails you can get out and hike, like the Cades Cove Nature Trail and the Abrams Falls Trail. Cades Cove is typically open year-round from sunrise to sunset for visitors to explore.
For more information about what you can see in Cades Cove, read our blog, “Step-By-Step Guide to the Cades Cove Loop Road.”