My husband and I decided to visit the Mountain Farm Museum while we were vacationing in Gatlinburg over the July 4th holiday week/weekend. While we were there, we took a day trip over to Cherokee, NC. The Mountain Farm Museum is located beside the Ocunaluftee Visitor Center at the entrance to the Great Smokies National Park on the North Carolina side of the park. It is probably about a 1 hour drive from downtown Gatlinburg to the Mountain Farm Museum in Cherokee via the National Park (route 441). As you are entering the park from Cherokee, you will see the Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum on your right. There is a pretty big paved parking lot area here. Once we parked the car, we made our way up towards the Ocunaluftee Visitor Center.
Once you reach the visitor center, you make a right and follow the path past the restrooms and down alongside the river. If you go to the far right, there was a nature trail there as well. Keep to the left side of the path that is along the river and it will lead you to the entrance of the Mountain Farm Museum. At the entrance to the Museum, there is an educational sign about the farm museum just outside the old wooden fence. There is also a bin here, where you can purchase a booklet ($1.00 donation recommended) about the self-guided tour.
Most of the buildings on location were moved here from other places in the Great Smokies National Park. The only building that was originally on location was the barn. The other buildings were moved here and set up to form a small farm in order to depict what farm life would have been like over 100 years ago.
Here you will see the Davis House, a unique 1899 log cabin with wood boards placed in the cracks between the chestnut logs instead of clay. You can take a peek inside the cabin, but you cannot walk around inside of it, since it is roped off. However, you can still get an idea of the size of the rooms and the types of items that may have been in each room. One of the most interesting rooms in this cabin to me was the old kitchen & dining area with the old stone fireplace. Also on the porch of the Davis House, were a couple of museum staff dressed in period clothing (dresses) who were sitting in some chairs & snapping green beans into large bowls. I believe they were there to set the tone for the period & also to answer any questions you might have.
Also on location at the Mountain Farm Museum is a woodshed, bee gums, meat house, chicken house, apple house, corn cribs, cane mill, the big barn, blacksmith shop, springhouse, outhouse, and some livestock, gardens & crops. Many of the buildings look the same from the exterior. Many of them were small wooden buildings with signs on the outside of them as to indicate whether it was the chicken, apple, or meat house. However, there are some pretty interesting stories on the signs and in the booklet that explain HOW these different buildings were used to store the farm's livestock & crops throughout the changing weather and seasons. One of the most interesting houses was the spring house, as it depicted how the farmers would use the cold spring water to refrigerate their eggs, milk, butter and perishable foods. The foods were placed in crocks and then the crocks were placed in a trough that the cold spring water would flow through, creating a cooling system. It was really interesting. Another interesting area was the blacksmith shop. It was interesting to learn that the farmer would often make & fix his own tools and horsehoes.
Also, on location at the farm were some livestock. We saw some chickens, roosters and pigs while we were there. The roosters and chickens were free roaming, but hung out mostly by the barn and animal pen. They were fun to watch as they walked about the barn and around the fences. There were 2 pigs in a pen when we were there too. They were very cute and fun to watch as they played with each other. However, the pigs and their pen do have the typical farm animal "odor", so be prepared that they may be a little smelly. In addition to the livestock, we also saw an Eastern Bluebird perched on one of the posts to the zig-zag split rail fence that ran alongside the corn cribs & corn fields. It was so pretty with its bright blue back, rust colored neck and white belly. The bluebird also had a really beautiful song. We stood and watched him for a few minutes before moving on to the next building.
Overall, we had fun walking about the Mountain Farm Museum. It was an interesting look at history and how farm life typically was over 100 years ago. It was really neat how they brought all of these buildings together from all over the area (Cosby, Cades Cove, Bryson City, Little Cataloochee, etc) to form a small farm & depict farm life in the smoky mountains. Visiting this open air museum was very relaxing. We strolled along the flat dirt path that loops around the various buildings at our own pace. We stopped and took our time checking out the various exhibits, crops, and livestock. AND in addition to viewing all the buildings, river, & livestock...there is even the potential to do some bird watching while visiting this open air farm museum! You can spend as little OR as much time as you like at this museum since it is a self-guided tour. We probably spent a hour or so here viewing all the exhibits. And after visiting the museum, you can stop and rest alongside the river, take a walk on one of the nature trails, or stop inside the visitor center (with restrooms out back). I would recommend a stop at the Mountain Farm Museum if you will be over in Cherokee, NC. It is really a nice look at farm life in the Smokies during the early 1900's. Plus it is FREE to visit the museum. It will only cost you a dollar donation if you want to pick up the self guided tour booklet!