Fact: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the country. That means about 10 million people visit each year; that means twice as many folks pass through our little slice of heaven than any of the 58 other national parks in the U.S. Think there’s more you don’t know about the Smokies? Think again. Here are the top 5 facts you DIDN’T know about the Great Smoky Mountains:
Money for creating the Great Smoky Mountain National Park was actually hard to come by at first. Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina all contributed funds, but philanthropist John D. Rockefeller also pitched in $5 million in 1926 to make the park a possibility. That’s more than $70 million in today’s money when inflation is calculated.Rockefeller Monument
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has a Native American legacy that dates back nearly 14,000 years. Numerous Archaic period (c. 8000-1000 B.C.) artifacts have been found within the national park's boundaries, including projectile points uncovered along likely animal migration paths Woodland period (c. 1000 B.C. - 1000 A.D.) sites found within the park contained 2000-plus-year-old ceramics and evidence of primitive agriculture.
The Cherokee, the region’s most well-known-tribe, showed up in the Mississippian period (c. 900-1600 A.D.), and still play an active role in Smoky Mountain culture today.
Clingman's Dome, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains, is named after a very controversial figure in American History. Thomas Lanier Clingman started his career as a politician from North Carolina. He made is all the way to the U.S. senate, where he was expelled in 1861 for publicly voicing his support of the Confederacy. After getting the boot, he served as a brigadier general for the South in the Civil War then went on to explore and survey the Great Smoky Mountains. This point was named in his honor to commemorate his efforts and discoveries.
Are you into everything slimy? Then you’ll be pleased as punch to learn that the Great Smoky Mountains are known as the “Salamander Capital of the World.” More than 30 species of these amphibians live in the park. Unlike most animals, slimy salamanders don’t have lungs and they breathe through blood vessels in their skin and the lining of their mouths.Nature Info
It is easy to see how the Great Smoky Mountains got their name – just gaze out across the mountainscape and you’ll see a beautiful blue haze hovering around the peaks. This “smoke” isn’t really smoke or even fog: It comes from the acres and acres of forests growing on the mountains. Water and hydrocarbons exuded by tree leaves form volatile organic compounds, chemicals that have a high vapor pressure and easily form vapors at normal temperature and pressure – creating a dense haze that gives the mountains their namesake smoky look.
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