Gatlinburg was scarcely more than a general store and post office prior to the Civil War. Still, it was a essential destination for all those who lived in the surrounding mountains. It was the place for "store bought" goods and communications with the outside world. By the late 1920s, those goods had expanded to represent the skills of the mountain community in the form of crafts and homegrown consumables made available to mountain visitors. These skills were aided in exposure to the outside by the establishment of Pi Beta Phi sorority's settlement school in 1912 and then through their Arrowcraft Shop in 1926. Today, public schools provide the education, but craft and artistic skills are still fostered by the internationally recognized Pi Beta Phi's Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts established in 1945 and still located in downtown Gatlinburg That downtown now is a dense village of shops, restaurants, and a myriad of entertainment establishments all catering to the literally millions of annual visitors who pass through Gatlinburg on their way to the National Park. Many artists and artisans have been attracted to the Gatlinburg area as the number of yearly visitors has grown. Coupled with the impetus of Arrowmont, the area offers a collection of talent and wares unique in the South.
Pittman Center, a community that includes pastoral Emert's Cove. This valley area owes its existence to the middle prong of the Little Pigeon River which flows out of the Park's Greenbrier Cove, just across US 321.
Further out US 321 lies the Village of Cobbly Nob. Begun in 1970 as a private development of over four hundred acres, the community fronts an 18-hole golf course stretched out along the highway. Permanent residents here enjoy the year-round beauty without the hassle of locations nearer to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, or Sevierville. The community association provides a security force, and maintains the three swimming pools, tennis court, and roads, including snow removal as required during the winter months. Access to the Park is immediately across the highway when just looking at the scenery isn't enough. And, when the Gatlinburg scene is a desired destination, a 15-minute drive will put you into the middle of it.
The best part of the Cobbly Nob location might be that it is accessible without having to endure the traffic of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. You may enter from the east off I-40 via Highway 321, either from Newport, The Wilton Springs exit or The Foothills Parkway and get a fabulous preview of the Park's grandeur .
Even if you choose to come in through Sevierville, there's State Highway 416 off of US 411, ( Dolly Parton Parkway), which by-passes Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. And your drive is along the beautiful Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River most of the way. There's no better introduction to the beauty of our mountain rivers.