3 Structures You’ll See on Cades Cove Loop Road

June 28, 2024

Cades Cove is the most popular area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as it receives about 5 million visitors every year. While it has beautiful natural scenery like the rest of the park, Cades Cove also has some stunning historic structures that are remnants of a once-thriving settlement. Visitors can see all of them by walking or driving Cades Cove Loop Road. Want to learn a little more before your visit? Explore our list of 3 historic structures you’ll find on Cades Cove Loop Road:

1. John Oliver Cabin

The Cades Cove Loop Road begins as Laurel Road ends. The first structure you’ll see at Mile 1 is the John Oliver cabin. Built in the 1820s by its namesake and his wife, it is the oldest human structure in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It will surprise you to discover that the cabin is held together by gravity and notched corners rather than nails. While minor improvements have been made, the National Park Service prides itself on maintaining the cabin’s authentic look!

2. Primitive Baptist Church

primitive baptist church along the cades cove loop roadAfter the John Oliver cabin, you’ll see the Primitive Baptist Church on Mile 2.1 of Cades Cove Loop Road. Built in 1827, it was the first of 3 churches in Cades Cove. It served both the religious and social needs of the community. Residents used it as a place to gather for Sunday Services and other events. Go inside the church to see two rows of pews facing a preacher’s stand. Before you leave, take a look in the cemetery on the church’s lawn. This is the oldest cemetery in Cades Cove, and it is the resting place of some of the area’s prominent settlers. This includes John Oliver and his wife who were some of the first residents.

3. John P. Cable Mill

The John P. Cable Mill is located at Mile 5.4 of the Cades Cove Loop Road. Its namesake built the structure in 1867. He was the descendant of Peter Cable, an earlier Cades Cove resident who built a system to drain the area swaps. John P. Cable definitely carried on the legacy because the gristmill was just as valuable to the Cades Cove residents. Farmers used it to turn their wheat and corn into flour. This allowed farmers to do more with their crops, as the flour could then be used in baking bread. Before the mill was built, farmers would have to start the flour-making process by grinding the wheat with their hands, which was very time-consuming. The power of the gristmill’s 11-foot tall water wheel completed it much faster and allowed farmers to save time. It also provided an increase in production, which helped the local economy. The power of the water wheel also operated the sawmill. This helped the residents make lumber and changed the way homes were built.

We hope you see these historic structures and more on Cades Cove Loop Road! Want to learn more about the area? Check out this list of hiking trails in Cades Cove you should know about!