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Virginia Kraft
July 07, 1958
For summer travelers in search of unexpected vacation adventure, Sports Illustrated explores the South's most impressive valley
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July 07, 1958

Discovery: The Tennessee Valley

For summer travelers in search of unexpected vacation adventure, Sports Illustrated explores the South's most impressive valley

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To play a round of golf and see some lovely scenery en route, drive south on 19E across the North Carolina border to Linville, a vacation town huddled against Grandfather Mountain. Linville Falls and Linville Gorge are beautiful natural spectacles. The colorful community of LITTLE SWITZERLAND is here, as well as LINVILLE GOLF COURSE (public), considered one of the finest in the South.


The drive from Watauga to Douglas Dam is 111 miles, a long haul, particularly where children are concerned, but worth it. Break up the trip by stopping halfway at Greeneville. THE ROUND TABLE RESTAURANT at KING ARTHUR'S COURT on Route 35 is considered by many Tennesseans the best restaurant in the eastern area of the state.

If the youngsters have already seen Davy Crockett's boyhood home, they are sure to insist here on a visit to Davy Crockett's birthplace, 3½ miles off the highway at the Greene County line. The washboard road to this historic site runs through some of the most backwoods country in the South, involves driving the car across a stream and makes one wonder how Old Davy ever managed to leave home.

Greeneville, and Newport at Douglas Lake, feature stock-car racing Saturday nights on reasonably modern tracks. Newport is also the scene of a good portion of Tennessee's cock-fighting activity, a sport which is illegal in the state but, like moonshining, nevertheless has a dedicated following.

The best way to find a cockfight, since most take place in secluded barns and sub rosa atmospheres, is to pass the time of day with one of the local gas station attendants while you let him fill your tank, change your oil, grease the car and sell you cigarets and soda pop. Then, casually, the conversation should shift to something like, "I was supposed to meet old Joe here about the cockfight...." After looking at your watch a few times, convey the impression that Joe, as usual, has left you in a strange town with money riding on a good bird you can't find. Few real aficionados can resist this approach.

Douglas Lake is 43 miles long and a mile and a half wide. Fifteen docks, 13 of them in the Dandridge area, provide overnight accommodations for 170 people and daytime services for many times that number. The majority of visitors to Douglas come for the day, since the lake is located halfway between Knoxville and Gatlinburg. They generally stop at DANDRIDGE MUNICIPAL PARK on Route 66, eight miles from Douglas Dam, where they can picnic, camp and fish free of charge. Largemouth bass, crappie and small stripers make up the principal catches on Douglas. There are several good places to stay overnight. GALLOWAY'S LANDING near Dandridge has its own paved road, launching ramp and more than 50 rental boats. Its kitchen-equipped cabins accommodate four and rent for $6 a day or $35 a week.

At nearby INDIAN CREEK BOAT DOCK, boats are furnished free with each cottage. ISLAND VIEW CAMP, five miles west of Dandridge, caters particularly to fishermen. Its floating dock has 75 boats for rent, a tackle shop, live bait and freezing facilities. The Island View's restaurant specializes in hushpuppies, southern fried chicken and country ham. This last, hickory smoked and aged without refrigeration, is one of the most delicious dishes in the Tennessee Valley.


The next lake target in your tour is Fontana, 93 miles from Douglas, but plan to stop halfway at Gatlinburg, a charming resort town at the edge of GREAT SMOKY NATIONAL PARK. There's something special for every member of the family at Gatlinburg, so if time permits, spend a couple of days there. For children, there is an amusement area at Pigeon Forge, six miles outside the town. This has a wild-animal farm, miniature frontier town, a moonshiners' village, the SMOKY MOUNTAIN CAR MUSEUM and SMOKY CITY. While the kids are looking at "wild animals," parents can shoot a few holes on the Pigeon Forge championship public golf course.

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