If you love old photos and local history, you must check out this site to see if they have a book on your area:
I just bought the Great Smoky Mountains National Park book, and though most of the pictures are of the Tennessee side of the park, it’s a great book. There are lots of pictures not only of the original settlers of the region, but also of early tourism here. From auto campers to the formation of permanent camping communities, the story is well told in both text and photos.
The cover picture is of a group from Knoxville, Tennesse, about 1915. By that time there was a daily train from Knoxville to Elkmont in the Smokies. Groups would do daytrips to the area, and would often bring swimsuits for a bracing dip in the cold mountain river. There were also large tourist hotels in the area, none of which remain.
The book ends with the formation of Gatlinburg as a tourist town. It is located right on the western edge of the Park, and so was perfectly located as a hotel and restaurant hub. It’s a good example of “Be careful what you wish for,” because today Gatlinburg is over-developed and over-commercialized. But in the 1950s, and even into the 60s, it was a nice place to visit. I can remember going there with my family about 1967 and playing in a little park. And I read last week, that the last of the old attractions, Christus Gardens, has just been sold to a developer.