In September 1940, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt came to the North Carolina/Tennessee border for the dedication of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
To mark the anniversary of this occasion, our September Artifact of the Month is a commemorative plate highlighting some of the park’s notable features.
The plate, for which we have no date, depicts seven Smoky Mountain attractions:
- The native black bear (which gets central billing)
- The “loop-over” (a place where the road loops over itself)
- Gatlinburg’s observation tower, known as the Space Needle
- The traditional Cherokee Eagle Dance
- The outdoor drama Unto These Hills, a historical play about the Cherokee people
- The observation tower on the top of Clingman’s Dome
- An “Indian chief”
This last image, the Indian chief, shows a stereotypical “Hollywood Indian” rather than a Cherokee in traditional Cherokee dress — a nod to the controversial practice of intentionally dressing with tourists’ expectations in mind. (The Museum of the Cherokee Indian’s website covers the topic of Cherokee dress concisely and well on its FAQ page.)
A quick look around eBay reveals that the seven attractions featured on this plate appear over and over in vintage Smoky Mountain souvenir items. But, of course, there’s much more to love about the Smokies. If you have a favorite Great Smoky Mountains attraction, activity, or memory, leave a comment and tell us about it!