On Top of Old Smoky, Then and Now: Paying Tribute to Those Who Gave Us Their Homes and Their Music

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Popular Press

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Excerpt: The 2016 album On Top of Old Smoky: New Old-Time Smoky Mountain Music paid tribute to the 4,250 people from 700 families who gave—or, depending on one’s perspective, surrendered—their ancestral homes to create Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most ecologically diverse area in the Appalachian region and the most popular national park in the US. Its ecosystems having recovered from extensive early-twentieth-century logging, this park simultaneously possesses a reconstructed wilderness and preserves a compelling cultural heritage story; indeed, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite such official acknowledgement of the park’s significance, one story has rarely been told: the true story of those who sacrificed the most to make the park possible.