Tennessee Alumnus

Smoky Mountain Stories

By Jennifer Sicking

As all great stories have strands of different tales woven together to create one epic, the UT Press has provided that through books to create a narrative for Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As the major source of books about the park, UT Press titles include everything from history to flora and fauna to local characters and airplane crashes.

UT Press began as a scholarly publisher in 1940 with part of its mission to “extend the university’s leadership by publishing worthy projects about the South.” It won the 1978 National Book Award in history with Intellectual Life in the Colonial South by Richard Beale Davis.

But its bestsellers have been about the national park in its backyard.

While UT Press no longer holds the copyright for Great Smoky Mountains Wildflowers, it remains its bestselling book. UT Press Publicist Tom Post says it has sold hundreds of thousands of copies.

“It’s path-breaking for its time because it had pictures of flowers,” he says.

The other bestseller is Durwood Dunn’s Cades Cove: Life and Death of a Southern Appalachian Community, 1818-1937.

“People come to Cades Cove, fall in love with it and buy the book,” Post says.

Another book, Our Southern Highlanders by Horace Kephart, was mentioned during Ken Burns’ documentary about America’s national parks.

“You can’t talk about the Smokies today without having read Kephart,” Post says.

Other available books about the park or about Tennessee: