Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, nestled on the foothills the Great Smoky Mountains in eastern Tennessee, is a haven for camping, hiking, outdoor water parks, country music, and all manner of outside leisure pursuits. The first European settlers moved to the area from the Carolinas down the Great Indian Path through the Smoky Mountains and down the Little Pigeon River. After the Revolutionary War, the territory became known as the Lost State of Franklin. One of the first businesses was the iron forge, build by Isaac Love in 1820, and the city takes its name from two sources: the passenger pigeons that stopped to feed on beech tree nuts on the riverbanks, and forge, of course, for the iron works. As a city it is young -- its roots are in farming -- and population records from 1807 show a mere 154 residents. But when the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was dedicated in 1940, Pigeon Forge started to change. In 1961, it was incorporated, and in the last 25 years it has become home to 5,456 permanent residents and 11 million visitors annually.
A visit to Pigeon Forge is a slice of Southern life, most famously known perhaps for its proximity to the Dollywood, an amusement park that Dolly Parton bought in 1986 and renamed -- it was formerly called Silver Dollar City. Additionally, many people travel here because it is close to many attractions; it's about five miles north of Gatlinburg, five miles from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and over 800 campsites in the surrounding area. The six-lane Route 441 -- locally referred to as the Parkway -- is essentially the main highway in town where you will find hotels, 45 attractions, including amusement parks, dinner theaters and other musical revues. Shopping, camping, hiking, and dining are all possible in this 11.24 square-mile area. Tourism is by far the main industry -- it is in the same vein of Orlando, Branson, and other large, themed destinations.