Some of my favorite photos I’ve taken, and one of my favorite places, have been posted on American Guide today!
THE MOTELS OF GATLINBURG, TENNESSEE
Officially established in June of 1934, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was one of many parks permanently shaped by the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. Not only did they strengthen the infrastructure of the park itself, the once small mountain towns bordering the park also saw quick changes as tourism to the now visitor-friendly parks boomed with the recovery of the economy.
The town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is one such town. In one year from 1934 to 1935, the visitors coming to the town to visit the park went from 40,000 visitors to 500,000 visitors. Over the next 15 years the price of land per acre went from $50 to $8000 an acre.
Certain areas of Gatlinburg look like a postcard from The Smoky Mountains I’d find in photo albums of my grandparents. Signs line up on the parkway with names like Old Creek Lodge, The Log Cabin Pancake House or the Sugarland Wedding Chapel. Parts of the main road in town, Eastern Parkway, look like a caricature of American Tourism during the 40s and 5’s and perhaps the most obvious evidence of this is in its motels.
Scattered randomly amongst many chain-tourist traps such as Ripley’s and a Hard Rock cafe, these motels, lodges, chalets and inns have a certain empty stillness that makes it easy to imagine the cars, clothes and families that filled the town and park during the summers way before there were convention centers and Pucker’s Sports Bars. And while the comfortable beds of the new hotel down the street may be appealing, I’ll take a motel that looks like it’s out of a David Lynch movie and called Ogle’s Vacation Motel over a Hilton Garden Inn any day.
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EE Berger is a photographer Detroit bred and Brooklyn based. She seeks out emptiness, solitude and peaceful moments and was recently selected as one of Photoboite’s “30 Women Photographers Under 30” for 2013. You can find her on Tumblr at eeberger.tumblr.com, and find her website at eebergerphoto.com.