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What once was started as a way to honor George Washington’s birthday, Presidents’ Day has now become a time where we, as Americans, honor our nation’s leaders. As part of our way of showing respect, we at Visit My Smokies have decided to take a moment and honor all the past presidents that have helped shape our beloved Great Smoky Mountains National Park over the years.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
In terms of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park history, President Roosevelt is probably one of the most well-known and influential presidents. Not only was he President when the funds were finally collected from private citizens and investors for the federal government to create the national park, he was the President that dedicated the park in these individuals’ honor. It is also thanks to President Roosevelt that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has never charged an entrance fee.
Along with the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, President Roosevelt also had a hand in creating the Civilian Conservation Corps that helped create and maintain the trails and lands within the new national park.
Although not quite as well-known for his actions as President Roosevelt, President Coolidge’s efforts in creating the Great Smoky Mountains National park are just as influential. In the 1920’s, President Coolidge signed a bill that allowed the Department of the Interior to take over responsibility for both the administration and protection of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Although this bill did not allow the federal government to purchase the land for the park, it did establish the protection of the land as soon as the acres were purchased.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
President Eisenhower’s influence on the Smoky Mountains is probably one of the least well-known efforts; however, everyone who visits the park enjoys its benefits. In 1966, President Eisenhower created a 10-year program called Mission 66. The purpose of this program was to expand the visitor service and accessibility to national parks across the United States. Involving the establishment of a variety of new roads and infrastructure to these parks, Mission 66 made the Great Smoky Mountains more accessible to visitors. This program also brought new visitor centers to these national parks, including the Smokies’ own Sugarlands Visitor Center.
A Tennessee native, Andrew Jackson is well-known for many of his actions before and during his presidency. One of his most known acts was the controversial Indian Removal Act of 1830. This act removed many Native Americans from much of the land that is now known as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Though not one of the most popular influences on the park’s history, this act did open up much of the land to later be used for the national park. To learn more about Andrew Jackson’s influence on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, visitors can view some of his presidential papers at the brand new National Park Service Joint Curatorial Collection Facility set to open this summer in Townsend.
Want to learn more about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and all the influential people that helped make it the memorable park we all love today? Visit My Smokies invites guests to check out our GSM National Park page. Here visitors will find tons of information on hiking, fishing, camping, and all the other fun and exciting things to do in the Smoky Mountains!