Journey Back In Time In The Great Smoky Mountains

Posted by Darryl Payne in Things To Do

When most of us think about the process of learning about history, we probably think about those classes we took in high school and college. The endless recitations of names and dates and places that were enough to lull us into sleep. The dry history books that could often be mind-numbingly dull.

The fact is, though, that history can be very interesting and even fun if you can manage to discover the right way to ingest it. One of the cool things about visiting the Great Smoky Mountains is that there are all kinds of places where you can learn about history and actually have a good time doing it. Some teach local history, some are connected to world history and some even delve into prehistoric times. But in any case, the Smokies abound with opportunities to gain knowledge about the past while having a good time in the present.

Dinosaur bones and other artifacts for sale at the Relic Room.

Smoky Mountain Relic Room

Located on the lower level of Smoky Mountain Knife Works in Sevierville, this amazing corner of the store is part shop, part history lesson. Their inventory is comprised of all kinds of historical artifacts, including relics from the Civil War and World War II. But if you're in the market for an honest-to-goodness dinosaur bone or tooth, this is the place to find it. Not replicas; actual dinosaur bones. They also specialize in unique rocks, minerals, gemstones and meteorites. You'll learn a lot about recent and ancient history as you browse, and you'll be surprised what amazing finds you can take home at affordable prices.

Learn about local history at this museum.

Sevier County Heritage Museum

Established in 1995, this museum-located in an old post office site in downtown Sevierville-offers a comprehensive collection of historic memorabilia spanning hundreds of years of Sevier County history. Artifacts include newspaper articles, civilian and military clothing, furniture, tools and much more. Tours are available by appointment only.

The violin played on the Titanic.

Titanic Museum Attraction

This distinctive destination on the Pigeon Forge Parkway has been one of the area's most popular attractions for more than a decade. The exterior is a one-third-scale replica of the famed Titanic luxury liner, which sank in 1912 after colliding with an iceberg in the North Atlantic. The tour pays tribute to the passengers and crewmembers who lost their lives as well as those who survived to tell the tale. Interactive exhibits and authentic artifacts make this attraction a fascinating journey back in history.

Smoky Mountain Heritage Museum

Located in Townsend, TN, this facility tells the story of life in the Great Smoky Mountains, from its first prehistoric inhabitants all the way to the creation of the national park in the 1930s. The self-guided tour features lots of hands-on and interactive exhibits that make the past come to life for guests of all ages. It follows a linear timeline, beginning with the area's first native inhabitants, through the first white settlers and culminating with impact of the national park on the communities and the people who called East Tennessee home. Much of the tour is housed inside the museum building, but there's also an adjacent outdoor tour featuring a wide variety of historically preserved structures and out buildings such as cabins, barns and mills.

Yankee Lady from WWII.

Tennessee Museum of Aviation

You'll find this high-flying attraction in Sevierville, adjacent to the local airport. It's a fitting setting for a well-curated collection of actual aircraft spanning the history of aviation in the state of Tennessee. The self-guided museum tour and the adjacent 35,000-square-foot aircraft hangar are packed with artifacts related to the rich legacy of manned flight, particularly as it pertains to our state. In the hangar is an impressive collection of vehicles, aircraft engines and aircraft, including trainers, fighters, helicopters, jets and amphibious craft.

Little River Railroad & Lumber Company Museum

Next time you're in Townsend, TN, consider stopping by this attraction, which tells the story of how the railroad and lumber industries helped bring commerce and prosperity to rural East Tennessee. It also goes further back in time to explore how Native Americans and pioneers influenced the development of the region. It's a self-guided tour with lots of railroad-related exhibits and displays outside the main building.

Sugarlands Visitor Center

This is the official visitor center for the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Inside, you'll find exhibits related to the history of the national park, and the staff of rangers and volunteers is knowledgeable about the park's past and should be able to answer most questions. Outside the visitor center is a turbine-powered gristmill. The gift shop also has a number of great books about the history of the park and the entire East Tennessee Region.

Oconaluftee Visitor Center

This is the national park visitor center for the North Carolina side of the Smokies. The museum at this center tells the story of life in the Smoky Mountains, from the Native Americans to early European settlers to more recent time periods, including the development of the national park. The adjacent Mountain Farm Museum showcases a fascinating collection of log structures, including a farmhouse, barn, smokehouse, apple house, corncribs and more. Demonstrations of farm life are conducted seasonally.

Christ In The Smokies Museum & Garden

Downtown Gatlinburg is where you'll find this inspirational attraction, which tells the story of Jesus Christ through scenes featuring life-size figures, dramatic lighting and music, and special effects. The multiple 3D dioramas bring biblical history to life for all ages and give visitors a sense of what life was like during the time of Christ, more than 2,000 years ago. In addition to the indoor tour, there are also beautiful outdoor gardens that invite guests to walk among lush vegetation and colorful flowers and flowering plants.



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