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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the Tennessee/North Carolina border for about 70 miles, covering 521,000 acres. There are more than 300 streams, flowing over 700 miles. More than 50 types of mammals live in the park, including the popular black bear.

Today, the mountains have over 4,000 species of plant life, 65 mammals, 200 birds, 70 fish, and 80 reptiles and amphibians. Because of the climatic change accompanying the gain in altitude, a one-day hike could take you through oak and pine forest (common in northern Georgia), hickory and maple trees (common Virginia), northern hardwood (found in Massachusetts) and spruce and fir forest (common in Canada).

The first known inhabitants of the Smokies were the Cherokee Indians. Surprisingly, their lives were similar to, and in some ways more sophisticated than, the white man who would eventually force them from the land. Today, the eastern band of the Cherokees have a reservation on the Park's North Carolina side.

Most of the National parks in America were originally part of government-owned lands; however, the Smokies were owned by private individuals and companies. In 1926, Congress authorized North Carolina and Tennessee to begin allocating funds for the purchase of the land. In 1934, with the help of individuals such as John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the land was purchased and given to the Federal Government. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated the Park on September 2, 1940.

Courtesy Best Read Guide Smoky Mountians

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