Today was the last full day of our Smoky Mountain family vacation. It was also the day that I was able to see the only site I really cared to see while here. I found the beautiful and historical, yet somewhat sad White Oak Flats Cemetery that I’ve only recently been hearing about… hidden on a hill behind the crazy Gatlinburg strip. Then on the way back to our cabin in the mountains, I decided to make another stop at a random cemetery close to our road. There just happened to be several grave stones with “Parton” on them, and you guessed it… all related to Dolly. She grew up in the area. I took an audio recorder to both cemeteries.
White Oak Flats Cemetery
From what I understand, White Oak Flats is what the area was called before it was Gatlinburg. If it weren’t for a YouTube video I found posted online, I never would have found it. The only way to get there is through a busy and cutesie shopping area called “The Village”. We ended up paying $7 to park, and then we walked through the village.
Follow one of the paths after it ends, go up a hill, and behind the alley of the less cutesie back employee entrances is a beautiful and possibly forgotten cemetery on a hill.
You’ll have to forgive me. I haven’t researched the history yet, but I’m told there are many unmarked graves. And it was obvious that some of them are marked unofficially. Some of them are simply marked by the rock that is seen and found all over the area. Was this due to being poor? Some of them had simple etching by hand. For some, the etching may have been worn away by weather, or maybe was never there. Sometimes it was unclear if it was even a grave or not. All of this amongst fairly recent and modern graves as well.
Catons Chapel Cemetery
This cemetery is in Sevierville, Tennessee, and is near our beautiful cabin. I had no prior knowledge or information about this one before my father and I visited, but as I said before, we just happened to find the resting places of many of Dolly Parton’s relatives. This cemetery didn’t seem like much… then after you get to the top wheezing and sweating (or maybe that’s just me) you turn around and notice the spectacular view and understand it all!