Hikers in the Great Smoky Mountains, 1926. (McClung Historical Collection.)

Hikers in the Great Smoky Mountains, 1926. (McClung Historical Collection.)


In late July, 2024 GSMCA will be supporting the Knoxville History Project in celebration of the 100th anniversary of when Knoxville leaders and outdoor enthusiasts created a remarkable grassroots movement to establish a new national park in the Great Smoky Mountains.

KHP will the stories of the Knoxville civic leaders, conservationists, and trailblazers who led pioneering efforts, against all odds, to make the national park a reality. July 2024 actually marks 100 years exactly since Col. David Chapman, leader of the newly created Great Smoky Mountains Conservation Association, sent Knoxville photographer Jim Thompson on a mission: to present the best of his Smoky Mountains photographs to impress the Southern Appalachian Park Commissioners who were charged with recommending the location for the second national park in the eastern United States.

The three-day event will include the following:

  • July 25: A special screening of Stark Love, a rarely seen 1927 silent film shot in the mountains starring Knoxville actress Helen Mundy, with a live score performed by Freddy Brabson. In partnership with Smoky Mountain Radio at Central Cinema in Happy Holler.


  • July 26-27: A two-day educational symposium with programs by KHP historians Jack Neely and Paul James and Smokies’ authors, including David Brill, Ken Wise and Daniel Pierce at the East Tennessee History Center.


  • July 26: A special evening at the Bijou Theatre showcasing the Smoky Mountains photographs and films of well-known photographer and outdoorsman Jim Thompson in partnership with Eric Dawson, McClung Historical Collection and John Morton, Tennessee Archive of Moving Image & Sound.


Attendees will receive a commemorative booklet outlining the history of the movement and the Knoxvillians who made it happen.

All events will be free, but registration will be required. Registration will open in mid-June.

Learn more at  https://knoxvillehistoryproject.org/smokies/