A crew from Samaritan's Purse assists with clean up after the 2016 Gatlinburg fire (archive photo by Dr. Candi Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

The Real Story Behind the Gatlinburg Fires of 2016 as Told by a Local

Strong winds and communication issues were to blame, according to officials I remember it well. As someone who has called these mountains home for the last 35 years, it was a devastating event to witness. Years have passed, but the scars remain. Large swaths of the forest burned in November of 2016. Of course, some scars heal eventually. As more

bucees in clute texas storefront

A Look Inside: First-ever Buc-ee’s Looks Nothing Like What You’d Think

The original Buc-ee’s will make you look twice with its pint-sized footprint in Clute, Texas Earlier this year, Sevierville, Tenn. officially became home to the country’s largest Buc-ee’s when it opened its doors to a 74,000-square-foot behemoth. As a Tennessean, I am fairly new to the Buc-ee’s phenomenon. Sure, my Texas relatives had been telling me the legendary tale (tail?)

a barn decorated in christmas decor

The Odd Reason Some Southerners Celebrate Christmas on January 6

As many Southerners know, Christmas hasn’t always fallen on December 25 So this is Christmas. Gifts in pretty paper and the ringing of silver bells. Crooners singing carols. “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, claymation Santas and “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree”. TV and radio from the 30s to the 60s surely had a heavy impact on our culture. Still, tendrils of what Christmas

a roller coaster against a mountain backdrop

There’s a Real Ghost Town in the Sky on Top of a Mountain in North Carolina

A once beloved, now abandoned theme park deteriorates through decades of unfortunate events In the days before the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, mountain folks were raised with the threats of haints and spirits, of goblins that snatched spiteful, mean or lazy children away never to be seen again. Nowadays, it’s harder to believe in the legend of haunted hollers, in

dolly parton childhood home replica at dollywood

Where Is Dolly Parton’s Childhood Home? Is It Still There? (2023)

A look at Dolly Parton’s childhood and Tennessee Mountain Home Dolly Parton was born into a world on the cusp of seismic change. I suspect there are few people who can even begin to fathom her 77-year journey. She was the fourth of Avie Lee and Robert Parton’s 12 children. And she came into the world in a manner familiar to many

greenbrier restaurant in gatlinburg tn

The Greenbrier Restaurant in Gatlinburg May Be Haunted (Photos)

When you grow up on the outskirts of the Great Smoky Mountains, sometimes you miss some obvious stuff. For instance, I overlooked one of the most popular restaurants in the Smokies: The Greenbrier for years. While The Greenbrier is a favorite among locals, you might notice that it’s not heavily advertised. Also, it’s not right along any main roads. It’s

hatfield and mccoy dinner show with photos of cast and real life famillies

The History of the Hatfields and McCoys, a Timeline of Real Events

The truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, and it’s certainly the case with the Hatfields and the McCoys.You may have heard about this famous Hatfield-McCoy feud. You may have seen the dinner show in Pigeon Forge. But do you know the history of the Hatfields and McCoys? Is the Hatfields and McCoys story true? Yes, at least in part. Behind

hillbilly-style mountain dew bottles

The History of Mountain Dew, What Does It Have To Do With Moonshine?

I don’t know when I first became aware of Mountain Dew. It wasn’t part of our soda arsenal growing up. We had the major brands Pepsi, Coke and a few RC Cola-style brands like Big Red and other such soft drinks. But I don’t think I bothered much with Mountain Dew until the great re-branding of the early 90s when they stopped with the cartoon hillbillies and became EXTREME

Popcorn sutton with a moonshine still

Popcorn Sutton and His Moonshine: 6 Surprising Facts (With Pictures)

Almost everyone who grew up in and around Cocke County, Tennessee is familiar with the legend of Popcorn Sutton. Some view him as a folk hero, others as a criminal. Still, his name is synonymous with one of the county’s greatest claims to fame: Real mountain moonshine. Born in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, he came from a long line of

Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton at events

Is Miley Cyrus Related to Dolly Parton? This Is How They Became Close

Billy Ray Cyrus had a lot of things break his way in the early 1990s. A photogenic pop country star with an iconic haircut, he could wear a pair of jeans in a way that made women swoon. In 1992, he released one of the most popular, catchy yet annoying, best-selling and just flat-out awful hit songs of all time. The