Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

History of Crafts

The strong crafts tradition in the Smokies produced many fine handcrafted items. Long after most people along the Eastern Seaboard lived in a cash economy, the mountain people still spun thread from sheep shearings, built furniture from forest hardwoods and made baskets styled after those made by the Cherokee people, their predecessors in the region. 

Besides Cherokee-style baskets, most southeastern crafts have been inspired by British designs. A large percentage of these mountain settlers emigrated from Britain or New England.

The strong crafts tradition in the Smokies produced many fine handcrafted items. Long after most people along the Eastern Seaboard lived in a cash economy, the mountain people still spun thread from sheep shearings, built furniture from forest hardwoods and made baskets styled after those made by the Cherokee people, their predecessors in the region. 

Besides Cherokee-style baskets, most southeastern crafts have been inspired by British designs. A large percentage of these mountain settlers emigrated from Britain or New England.

Appalachian crafts include rocking and cane chairs, cornshuck dolls and hand-carved wood sculptures. Spindle-carved furniture is also popular, as are woven items such as napkins, jackets, scarves and blankets. 

Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, in downtown Gatlinburg on The Parkway (U.S. 441), is a major force in sustaining the crafts tradition in the southeastern United States. Founded in 1912, the school has developed into a leader of arts and crafts education; 2,000 students from the U.S. and abroad attend annually. Another place to see and buy local crafts is along an eight-mile loop road at East Parkway (U.S. 321-N), three miles from downtown Gatlinburg. The artisans and craftspeople who work there are members of Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community.

The region's musical heritage is kept alive through a variety of live performances and instrument-making demonstrations. Free gatherings take place on weekends, spring through the fall, in and around the park. Shows featuring a mix of mountain, bluegrass and country music take place in Gatlinburg almost every evening in the summer.

For more information on Gatlinburg events, please call the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce at (800) 568-4748.