We recently had a chance to visit the Cades Cove Museum in Maryville. Randy and I didn’t know this museum existed until after we started Travel East Tennessee.
- History Museum
- Artifacts from area
- Informative volunteers
- Small gift shop
Date visited – 10/7/21
Hours and Price
The Cades Cove Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM. Other hours and days can be arranged by calling ahead and making an appointment with the staff.
Admission to the Cades Cove Museum is free but donations are welcomed.
The sign for the museum isn’t hard to see if you’re looking for it. There is a small paved parking lot with a path to the entrance of the museum
The Museum is currently located in the historic Thompson-Brown House. This is one of the oldest homes in East Tennessee. This log building is a two-story, two-pen dog trot cabin and has stood on this same spot for over 200 years.
This building has a connection to Cades Cove. Martha Thompson was born in one pen of the cabin and married in the other before relocating with her husband, Dr. Samuel Post, to Cades Cove.
Inside are hundreds of items that were owned and used by the residents of Cades Cove before it was turned into a National Park. Many of them have signs explaining what the items are and who they belonged to.
The museum is small, just the two larger rooms in the downstairs of the building with a gift shop in the dog trot between them. This is the sort of museum where you could spend just a few minutes looking at the things that interest you most or at least a couple of hours trying to take it all in and talking with the staff.
You can just do a sort of self-guided tour, but I recommend asking the staff questions. The volunteer working while we were there was very informative and friendly.
We learned that Cades Cove was larger and more populated than most visitors to the park realize. Our guide also told us about rescuing artifacts from a burnt building, how to comb and spin flax, and a few stories about the people that lived in Cades Cove. He also told us about the Civilian Conservation Corps that helped build many of the roads, bridges, and other features of the National Park. The CCC had a camp in the Cades Cove valley.
Cades Cove Preservation Society
The staff members are all volunteers from the Cades Cove Preservation Society and all donations and profits from the gift shop go to the Society. Besides running this museum the Society also works to collect artifacts and stories from Cades Cove and help with special projects in the park as well.
Two of their recent projects include a new roof for the historic building the museum is located in and repairing the walkway to the Carter-Sheilds cabin in Cades Cove. Many of the members of the society are descendants of the people who lived in Cades Cove but you don’t have to be to join.
The gift shop focuses mostly on t-shirts, books, maps, postcards, and other items related to Cades Cove and the surrounding area. Sometimes there is also a tent set up in the front yard with various unrelated items being sold to benefit the Museum.
I love history, and to me, this sort of museum is a great way to spend an hour at a time looking at all the interesting things, imagining what life was like, and hearing great stories. I wish I had known about the Cades Cove Museum when I was homeschooling.
Would you go back? Yes, there are so many items there is no way I saw them all in one visit. Also, I look forward to taking a couple of family members who love Cades Cove to the museum and hearing more stories.
I enjoyed the Cades Cove Museum. I love history and museums. Cades Cove is one of my favorite places in East Tennessee, so I found the Cades Cove Museum fascinating. I enjoyed learning more about the area and seeing the artifacts. The guide was interesting to talk to.
I knew there were more buildings than there are now, but I didn’t realize there were 400 of them. I’m a fan of cartography, so I bought a map from the gift counter that shows Cades Cove before it became a park.
Would you go back? Absolutely. I plan to go back with my aunt who also loves Cades Cove and history.
Who Should Visit
History buffs, and anyone who loves Cades Cove and wants to know a little more about the people who lived there.
1004 East Lamar Alexander Parkway, Maryville, TN
(Across from Blount Memorial Hospital)
Also in the area:
Located just a little behind the Cades Cove Museum is the Blount County Historical Museum.
Have you visited the Cades Cove Museum? Tell us about your trip in the comments.