Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cherokee, North Carolina

Welcome to Cherokee, North Carolina - sometime in the 1950's. Located about 30 miles from Pigeon Forge (in the Oconaluftee River Valley), Cherokee is the headquarters for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. It has been a tourist destination for years, home to several roadside attractions, such as "Santa's Land"(I think I might have pictures of that one). Scenes from Walt Disney's "Davy Crockett - King of the Wild Frontier" were filmed in Cherokee!

In today's photos, we are looking down U.S. 19 (Tsalagi Road), revealing a treasure trove of old hotels, restaurants, and souvenir stands. And yes, fabulous old cars! Imagine the riches to be had in those shops... tomahawks, genuine arrowheads, feathered headdresses, beaded moccasins, peace pipes, blankets, pottery, bows and suction cup tipped arrows, basketry, and who knows what else.

Here are some more glorious mid-century automobiles for you. You can only have one, so choose carefully! North Carolina looks about as green and lush as a place can be; as usual, I'd love to visit - 50 years ago especially. 

I tried to do my usual Google Street View thing with the first photo, but it the buildings have been changed beyond recognition over the years. However, the structure that held "The Indian Store" (with its distinctive teepees) is still there, looking rather run down.

I hope you have enjoyed your trip to Cherokee, N.C.!


210Frwy said...

After all these years I finally get to post first.
Bring back tail fins!

Chuck said...

Congratulations, 210Frwy!

The first photo looks a lot like I remember Cherokee on our first visit in '96. It had been updated some, but still had a lot of the old "Route 66-era" feel to it.

We went back in '98 and discovered that a casino had opened in the intervening two years. Things were already changing and the traffic seemed to have quadrupled or more.

I'm afraid to go back now for fear of having my memories trampled (and possibly my body, too, if the visitor population has continued to grow exponentially at the same rate over the past 14.5 years).

stu29573 said...

As a 1/4 Cherokee, I always think its amusing how much plains Indians stuff is used at Cherokee tourist areas. Teepees? I think not, lol! Still, I love the feel of these shots and hate that the current shot looks so bland....

Pegleg Pete said...

My family used to go to Cherokee quite a bit in the 1970s on drives over the mountains from Gatlinburg. When I went back about eight years ago, I found the place quite depressing. The casino had opened and that seemed to be about the only thing happening anymore in Cherokee. At least the Pink Motel with its great vintage Tinker Bell sign is still there.

Nancy said...

Also have been to Cherokee, took Rachel when she was about 3 or 4 back in the early '90s. We stayed in Gatlinburg and drove to Cherokee to visit the Indian reservation. It was very cool. :-D I will have to get out our pictures and see if we were here at this place. I remember that in one picture we are standing in next to a really tall bear out in front of a shop!

Thanks for these, very cool.

Nanook said...

Sometimes without even trying, capitalism, if not allowed to run too rampant, can create a nice balance between commerce, kitsch, atmosphere and nostalgia. On some levels this scene feels more 'theme-parky' than commercial. As with too many things in life, they are often not appreciated until it's too late.

Thanks, Major for sharing all the teepee love - no matter how unauthentic.

Major Pepperidge said...

210Frwy, I am glad that you didn't just say "First!"

Chuck, it's hard to believe that Cherokee still had any charm in 1996; that just seems so recent! but I have seen how things near me have changed, so Cherokee is no different. Based on the Google Maps photo, I am not quite as enthusiastic as I might have been before.

stu29573, I think that they were playing on the public's perception (based on movies and TV) of what is "Indian". It is pretty silly!

Pegleg Pete, it is depressing to think that the only thing drawing people to Cherokee is a casino. Arg.

Nancy, wow, I am surprised at how many of my readers have been to Cherokee!

Nanook, you are so right; practically any vintage photo of a Main Street, no matter how humble, looks better in the past than it does now.

Chiana_Chat said...

^ So do the cars. I'll take the first one (gold & white) in the top pic or the last in the second (blue), whichever is easier for the time machine transmogrifier to recreate. :)

Pilsner Panther said...

Major, I just want to say how much I appreciate your web page. It's gotten to be much more than a "Disney Parks Fan Page," you've been presenting some wonderful Americana lately, like these photos and all the great views of the 1964-65 N.Y. World's Fair.

From one veteran nostalgia-type webmaster to another, kudos!

Morris Hilton said...

I use to go to Cherokee with my grandparents in the late 60s and early 70s my grandfather was Cherokee. It really saddens me to see the change. I will keep my memories of the Bear and dancing chicken (I did not realize why the chicken danced until I was older). Glad they stopped that.
I will miss all the old shops.
Thanks for the pictures.