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Title: A Window Of Opportunity: Cades Cove And The National Park Service
Authors: Olson, Kristen
Keywords: National Parl Service
Issue Date: 19-Aug-2009
Abstract: The federal government embarked on a bold and unprecedented undertaking in creating three National Parks in the heavily-populated East when Congress passed authorizing legislation in 1926. The populated areas of the new parks presented a challenge to the National Park Service (NPS), and the solution was to remove the people, taking their land through the application of eminent domain. Cades Cove, a small valley and farming community with a population of about 600 before the creation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP), is a valuable case study illuminating Park Service management of rural historic resources. This thesis examines how existing National Park Service policies shaped Cades Cove in the early twentieth century, and how the Service?s experience there shaped historic preservation policy through the late twentieth century. The underlying policies and precedents that existed before the National Park Service took over management of the Cove in 1931 are considered along with the contemporary political, social, and technological events that impacted GSMNP and Cades Cove. This study relies on historical research to establish a context for the Park Service?s management decisions at Cades Cove and in GSMNP. Both the history of Cades Cove and the history of the National Park Service are thoroughly examined. Historical documents from the NPS, the Southern Appalachian National Park Commission, and the Tennessee Great Smoky Mountains National Park Commission provide key insights into the prevailing attitudes, politics, and personalities that affected management policy in the 1920s, ?30s, and ?40s. Scholarly publications and Park Service documents from the latter half of the twentieth century show how the Cades Cove experience influenced the actions of another federal agency, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and how the lessons learned there continue to shape NPS policy. The results of this inquiry demonstrate that after the turn of the century and before the industrialization of the South there existed a window of opportunity for the creation of National Parks in the East. Another window of opportunity opened with the arrival of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps in the Smokies. This labor enabled the recording of much of the architecture within the park, but it also sped up the destruction of buildings that was begun by the agents of the Tennessee and North Carolina park commissions. The United States? entry into World War II closed this window of opportunity as CCC labor was funneled away from park development. By erasing the physical evidence of Cades Cove?s twentieth-century history, the NPS crafted a generically-appealing, ?typical? pioneer scene. This feat was only possible after historic preservation became a legitimate focus of the Service and before the development of more rigorous standards in the later twentieth century. Although a false history persists at Cades Cove, it can, and should, be viewed as a physical record of a distinct moment in Park Service history. Just as park architecture built in the 1930s is considered historic because it represents a far-reaching movement in American history, the evolution of a preservation ethic as evidenced at Cades Cove can also be considered a valuable part of the historical record of our National Parks.
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