History of Pigeon Forge TN
Pigeon Forge, TN get's its name from an iron forge
Isaac Love built sometime during the 1820s, and the
Little Pigeon River, which runs through the area.
The Cherokee had been using the area for centuries
as a place to hunt, and gained access to it via what
is now called the "Indian Gap Trail" across the
Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. This
"trading" trail passes through Pigeon Forge
Sevierville, TN. During the 1700s, the first
European settlers used the trail for access to the
Pigeon Forge area, while trappers and hunters from
North Carolina and traders from Virginia.
permanent European settler at Pigeon Forge
was American Revolution Colonel Samuel Wear
(1753-1817). He built a small fort
near Walden Creek and the Little Pigeon
River, in what is now Pigeon Forge City
Park. The fort served as a safe place
for pioneers who appeared in Sevier County.
Lewis, an American Revolutionary war
veteran, received a 151 acre land grant in
the area of what is now Pigeon Forge in
1810. In 1817, his son-in-law, Isaac
Love built the iron forge, which now bears
the town's name, for smelting ore into iron
In 1830, Love built the Pigeon
Forge Mill and 11 years later, in 1841,
Love's son, William, established a post
office, naming it Pigeon Forge.
Although the mill's iron furnace was sold
and relocated in the 1880s, the Pigeon Forge
Mill still remains, and is listed in the
National Records of Historic Places.
In 1870 a health resort was established on
the town's north at Henderson Springs, which
started bringing in city folk from around
eastern United States.
In 1934, the
Great Smoky Mountains National Park opened,
contributing little initially to the
economic development of Pigeon Forge.
During the 1940s, several campgrounds and
lodges opened, courtesy improvements to U.S.
Highway 441. And, after businessmen
and entrepreneurs failed to convince the
nearby residents at
Gatlinburg to build a
business center, their attention turned to
So, in 1961
the town was incorporated and the first
tourist attraction was established - Rebel
Railroad. The railroad was sort of a
theme park which took passengers through an
area of attacking Union soldiers with a
"frontier town" destination, where the
visitors could enjoy the saloon or visit the
blacksmith shop, and other events.
After a few
years using the "Civil War" theme, the
owners renamed the attraction Goldrush
Junction, a wild west theme similar to their
other tourist train attraction, Tweetsie
Railroad in nearby
Boone, NC. The
success of Goldrush Junction encouraged the
arrival of a log flume ride in 1967, an idea
obtained from the New York's World Fair.
In 1969, U.S.
Highway 441 in Pigeon Forge was zoned for
tourism. NFL football's Cleveland
Browns owner Art Modell bought Goldrush
Junction the same year. In 1976,
Goldrush Junction became Silver Dollar City
by the new owners, successful theme park
businessmen, the Herschend Brothers of
Branson, Missouri. Soon, the park's
attendance began to climb. The 1984
World's Fair (at Knoxville) brought more
economic improvement as outlet malls began
popping up in Pigeon Forge.
town, and tourism growing, Silver Dollar
City soon saw competition from another theme
park, Magic World. In response, the
Herschends partnered with Dolly Parton (an
area native) and Silver Dollar City became
Dollywood. The move was brilliant as
Dollywood flourished, while Magic World
folded in 1994.
Road Hotel, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.