Cocke County is located in the mid-eastern border of the State of Tennessee deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. Cocke, Sevier and Blount Counties are the Tennessee home of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park – the crown jewel of the Eastern United States National Park System.
Cocke County is named for William Cocke, a Revolutionary War fighter and early political leader. He along with William Blount, were the State’s first U.S. Senators, and John Sevier, the first Governor of the State of Tennessee.
Although Cocke County is known for its majestic mountain beauty, it is also known for the independent survival quality of its people, who have braved the hardship and poverty of the frontier until the present date.
The geography and culture of Cocke County is quite diverse. From its beginning in 1797, this Tennessee county has suffered from lack of unity in defining its personality and goals. There is good historical reason for this characterization. On Cocke County’s eastern border were settlers and Indians sharing the same mountain home, while at the western sector other pioneers were cultivating their river plains. Indian burial sites and ruins of ancient buildings were being plowed under. The culture of the flaxen-haired, Anglo-Saxon speaking the old English of Chaucer in one part of the County met with the people of another part conversing in guttural German-Deutch accents, while in still another, Huguenot neighbors discussed their life in soft French speech from Alsace-Lorraine.
These people, differing in speech, national origin and religion, but united in a common need for independence, grouped themselves into distinctive communities: Cosby, Hartford, Edwina, Del Rio, Parrottsville, Bybee, Carson Springs, Dutch Bottoms, and Rankin.
At the turn of the 20th century, Newport was a bustling commercial and transportation center. The arrival of the railroad and building of the depot in 1867 are the reasons for the location of the county seat on the Pigeon River. The town began to build up on both sides of the railroad between the hills and the river. Formerly known as Clifton, the town took the name of Newport in the 1870’s when it became the county seat.
Today, Cocke County continues its diversity – Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TVA Lakes, Cherokee National Forest, French Broad River, Nolichucky River and Pigeon River recreational activities – all waiting the new pioneer’s quest to get to know our frontier!