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While Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are the most famous towns in the Smoky Mountains, there are a number of other East Tennessee communities that are definitely worth a visit. If you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of the Parkway, we suggest spending some time in Pittman Center TN.
Considered a hidden gem in the Smokies, Pittman Center offers small town charm and breathtaking natural scenery. Visitors to Pittman Center will enjoy peace, quiet, and an entrance to the Greenbrier section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To help you make the most of your next vacation, Visit My Smokies has put together a guide to everything you need to know about Pittman Center.
Directions to Pittman Center
To get to Pittman Center from downtown Gatlinburg, follow the East Parkway for about 6 miles and take a left onto Pittman Center Road. After two miles, take a right onto Webb Creek Road, and you will find yourself in the heart of the town.
When we described Pittman Center as a small town, we weren’t kidding: the community is only 6 square miles with a population of just over 500 people! What Pittman Center lacks in size, however, it makes up for with its rich history and character.
History of Pittman Center TN
Before it was named Pittman Center, this special area of East Tennessee was known as Emert’s Cove. Frederick Emert was among the first Euro-American settlers to live in the cove after the land was ceded to the United States by the Cherokee with the 1785 Treaty of Dumplin Creek. Although he is no longer the namesake for the town, Pittman Center honored their founding father by building the Emert’s Cove Covered Bridge in 2000.
In 1920, Dr. John Burnett, a Methodist minister, founded the Pittman Community Center in Emert’s Cove. The Community Center was a settlement school designed to bring accessible education to the rural people of the Smoky Mountains. The school was named after Eli Pittman, a New York reverend who helped Burnett secure funding for the Community Center.
In addition to a school, the Pittman Community Center included a medical clinic, a general store, and a post office. To fund its operations, the Pitman Community Center grew apples and canned tomatoes.
In 1963, the Pittman School was merged with the similar Pi Beta Phi School in Gatlinburg to create Gatlinburg-Pittman High School. When the community of the cove applied for incorporation into the state of Tennessee in 1974, local residents chose the name Pittman Center.
Popular Things to Do in Pittman Center TN
There are a number of wonderful attractions and activities to enjoy in Pittman Center. Here are a few of our favorite places to visit:
- Greenbrier is a gorgeous section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that offers picturesque wildflowers, scenic hiking trails, a beautiful picnic area, and spectacular views of the Little Pigeon River. The entrance to Greenbrier is located within Pittman Center’s borders. To visit Greenbrier, take the East Parkway and turn onto Greenbrier Road, which is situated near Hungry Bear BBQ #1.
- The Glenn Cardwell Heritage Museum celebrates the fascinating history of Pittman Center. This great museum is filled with artifacts, photographs, books, and local stories.
- Hungry Bear BBQ #1 is one of the very best restaurants for pulled pork, brisket, and ribs in the Smokies. All of Hungry Bear’s meats are smoked in-house and a variety of delicious BBQ sauces are available.
- Brandywine Pottery is a fantastic place to go souvenir shopping in Pittman Center. Visitors will find an excellent selection of handmade pottery with Smoky Mountain-themed designs.
Pittman Center TN Cabin Rentals
If you’re searching for a relaxing retreat in the Smokies, you will love staying at one of the lovely Pittman Center TN cabins. Offering scenic views, hot tubs, fully equipped kitchens, and plenty of entertainment, these vacation rentals have everything you need for an unforgettable escape. To see a listing of Pittman Center cabins, visit our Where to Stay page and use the Map View function.