Oconaluftee Visitor Center & Mountain Farm Museum
Oconaluftee offers both a visitor center and the Mountain Farm Museum—a collection of historic log buildings gathered from throughout the Smoky Mountains and preserved on a single site.
At the visitor center, rangers can answer your questions about the park and there is a bookstore with a broad selection of guides, maps, and other products.
The Mountain Farm Museum is a unique collection of farm buildings assembled from locations throughout the park. Visitors can explore a log farmhouse, barn, apple house, springhouse, and a working blacksmith shop to get a sense of how families may have lived 100 years ago. Most of the structures were built in the late 19th century and were moved here in the 1950s. The Davis House offers a rare chance to view a log house built from chestnut wood before the chestnut blight decimated the American Chestnut in our forests during the 1930s and early 1940s. The museum is adjacent to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center.
The site also demonstrates historic gardening and agricultural practices, including livestock.
Structures at the Mountain Farm Museum:
John Davis Cabin, built in 1900. This cabin was originally located on Indian Creek several miles to the west above Bryson City. John Davis moved to the area in 1885 to free-range his livestock.
The cabin was constructed with matched chestnut logs joined with dove-tail notches.
Enloe Barn, built around 1880 by Abraham Enloe's grandson, Joseph, who owned the land where the museum is now located. The Enloes sold their farm to the Floyd family in 1917. This relatively large barn housed livestock in its lower stalls and grain and fodder in its lofts. This is the only structure that was originally located in Oconaluftee, being moved only 200 yards from its native spot. The roof consists of over 16,000 hand-split shingles.
Messer Applehouse, built by Will Messer of Cataloochee, a valley located within the park on the other side of Cataloochee Mountain to the east. At its original location, the applehouse was partially underground to help insulate it from the summer heat and winter cold.
The meathouse, located just behind the cabin, was moved to the site from Cataloochee. To cure meat (usually pork) and give it flavor, a small fire was built just inside the meathouse, exposing the meat to several hours of smoke,
The Baxter/Jenkins Chickenhouse, built by Willis Baxter in the late 19th century, was originally located at the base of Maddron Bald between Greenbrier and Cosby, Tennessee.Baxter's cabin is still located at its original site. Chickenhouses were used to protect chickens from carnivorous animals.
The blacksmith shop was built around 1900 and moved to the site from Cades Cove.
The springhouse, moved from Cataloochee, was used by farmers for refrigeration.
Two corn cribs, built around 1900, were moved from Thomas Divide, just north of Bryson City. Corn crib roofs were often raised to place the recently-cut corn crop inside. A large pitchfork was used to remove the corn via the small square doors when it was time to take the corn to the mill.
Other buildings include a hog pen, a sorghum press and still (used to draw sorghum from cane and boil it into syrup), an ash hopper (water was filtered through the ashes to extract its lye, which was then mixed with hog lard to make soap), a woodshed, and native fencing.
Two excellent walking trails start from the vicinity. The Oconaluftee River Trail follows its namesake stream for 1.5 miles to Cherokee. Mingus Creek Trail climbs past old farms to the Smokies high country. The easy, 1.5 mile Oconaluftee River Trail begins near the entrance to the museum. It is stroller-accessible and follows the river to Cherokee, N.C. Highlights: