Visitors from less topographically challenging (flatter) parts of the country are often amazed by our road system here in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. Roads go in anything but straight lines and can be downright challenging for flatlanders. Pretty much the opposite of the orderly, systematic way that the streets of Washington DC were planned, Gatlinburg area roads seem to be imagined by a drunken or deranged person with an intent to harm the innocent travelers who aren’t familiar with our Sevier County community. More on the DC comparison in a moment…
The reasons that Gatlinburg’s roads are so crooked is quite interesting. The modern day roads often follow the original settler’s wagon trails from days gone by. Those wagon trails followed the Cherokee Indian trails used by the earliest inhabitants of the mountains which were named Shaconage, which means “place of the blue smoke”. The Indian’s footpaths often followed the animal paths which were created by the large number of bears, deer, elk, wild boars, and other animals that are still here in large quantities. The animal paths followed waterways, which in turn wound around the mountains so at the root of all these curves are our glorious Smoky Mountains. Add to all of this the fact that until recently there was very little government oversight as to what sort of roads and driveways developers could create and you have the final result – A road network that is challenging at best and at worst downright bizarre occasionally.
It is entertaining sometimes to watch even the best model GPS systems grapple with the tortured routes that are found throughout our area. Earlier this week I plugged in a destination which my GPS indicated was only 6.3 miles away (as the eagle flies). Not being an eagle or a private pilot I really didn’t have the option of taking the aerial route. Unfortunately, the “best” road route was three times that at 18 miles long and a 30 minute estimated travel way. During that same day the same GPS system appeared to stammer and stutter as it repeated three times with absolutely no pause in between the word “recalculating” as it struggled mightily to find and stay on the best route. I guess you had to be there to fully appreciate the scene but it was very funny in person.
If you think about it, we here in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains are pretty much polar opposites to Washington, DC in so many ways. Not only are their roads straighter but we are in many ways a much more civil place. Furthermore, we conservative folks here in Sevier County generally manage to live within our means and don’t think that you can borrow your way to happiness as some in Washington must believe. With one of the nation’s highest crime rates and until recently a handgun ban Washington is again a total opposite to our low crime but second amendment right friendly town.
The point of this post? How does it relate to Gatlinburg real estate? If you are looking for a great and safe place to relax and you aren’t in a hurry, Gatlinburg may be just what the doctor ordered. An attorney friend of mine who as a young man lived for a few years in DC was stuck (even worse than usual) in gridlock one rush hour afternoon which gave him the opportunity to calculate in detail how much of his life he would spend in that traffic if he added up 10 commuting trips weekly for 50 weeks a year (two weeks for a annual vacation) for the rest of his working career. The answer literally caused him to re-think his career, lifestyle, and the location of his residence. Charlie has lived in East Tennessee for the past nearly 40 years and says it was the best decision of his life right behind the choice of his bride. Glenda was a local girl who helped make the decision to move much sweeter I’m sure. If on the other hand you are looking for a high tax, high crime, high stress lifestyle there are dozens of large cities around the country that will do just fine – Just not for me!