Sunday, January 8, 2017

Remembrance of Things Past: Gatlinburg #13

Mountain folk are resourceful. They were used to making something from nothing, because nothing is all they had. And they knew how to build a cabin, they had been doing it for generations, since the days of their daddy's daddy's daddy. If you owned an acre of land in Gatlinburg, you sold the cow, stopped planting corn and built a business. 

The arrival of the new big hotels along the Parkway through Gatlinburg in the late 1930s and early 40s was not enough to accommodate the many tourists visiting the new national park. After World War II finally ended, the returning veterans wanted to go on vacation and relax. Three cheers for FDR, happy days were here again.

Marshall's Creek Rest Court postcard
In the late 1940s, smaller businesses began to appear. Much like the roadside sleepover in the movie It Happened One Night, (released in 1934, the same year the national park was founded) five or six little rental cabins snuggled together could be built on a modest amount of land. They started popping up like morchella after a spring rain. Property owners realized, they too could be proprietors

The Mountain Press publisher of the weekly Gatlinburg Press and owned by Bill Postlewaite was located at the corner of Newton Lane at the bend of the creek. (Today, it's the location of the Mountain House Inn.) But next, along Baskins Creek Road from where it diverges from Cherokee Orchard Road several new establishments appeared in only a few years after the war. A couple places used the moniker "court,"  a shortened form of motor court or a place where you could drive your car, park at the door and spend the night in a lodging much smaller and homier than a hotel. 

Guests didn't rent a room and a lobby, that was too swanky. They needed a place for the kids to play, so the vacationers rented a little house with a yard, shade trees and metal lawn chairs. It was their home away from home and the beginning of the Baby Boom. Families grew with each passing year.

Many of the rental cabins were brightly painted, festive but all had one thing in common, they were nestled on the shoreline of Baskins Creek.

It was the early days of Gatlinburg as the host to the Smokies. People returned to the same location year after year because they liked the friendly people who owned the place. Regulars would not deign to stay elsewhere, they'd phone ahead and reserve "good old number 7" for four or five days, maybe a week. The former mountaineers were not franchisees they were "owner operators." Their names were on the businesses. They didn't have a national presence, all they had were homespun hospitality and a mountain stream. Each had the latest in comfortable amenities, as their post cards stated:
Marshall’s Creek Rest Court
Located on Baskins Creek, 12 units. New rock and yellow pine paneled cottages. Private bath (combination tub and shower). Electric heat. Quiet, shady and restful atmosphere, conveniently located for downtown shopping centers, theaters, restaurants and churches. Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Trentham, Owners and Managers. For reservations phone 497.

Everett’s Court
Modern Cottages in the heart of the Great Smokies, conveniently located in the city limits, away from heavy traffic. All 14 units air conditioned. Mr. & Mrs. Everett Trentham, Owners. Phone 495-J

Ogle’s Creek Bend Cabins
In the foothills of the Smokies. Creek Bend cabins with or without electric kitchen. Electric heat. Private swimming pool and ample playgrounds. Some with three bedrooms. All with private baths. Accommodations from two to eight per cabin. Mrs. Elder Ogle, owner and Manager. We are open the year round. Phone 145.

To those, three more were added: Benson's Cabins, the Nestle Inn and farther upstream, the last on the street, Bales Cabins. All were clustered creekside along Baskins, the wellspring of my youth. 
As of the summer of 2016, only two of these were still in operation: Nestle Inn and Marshall's. After the firestorms of Monday, November 28, only Marshall's Creek Rest remains.

© 2017 From the upcoming book, 
"Vintage Gatlinburg: 
The Transformation of a Small Timber Town to Mountain Resort
 Family Remembrances 1899-1969
by University of Tennessee Press author and native son  
Stephen Lyn Bales

Everett's Court postcard
Ogle's Creek Bend Cabins postcard

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