Pigeon Forge unveils iron works marker

Jun. 04, 2013 @ 11:40 PM

City officials and locals gathered at Patriot Park near the Old Mill and the trolley stop to unveil a new historical marker that commemorates the site where the Pigeon Forge Iron Works operated.

The marker displays a brief history of how Pigeon Forge got its name — a combination of the vast number of passenger pigeons that gathered in the area and the bloomery forge built in 1817.

The marker also shows pictures of an early flood in the area, an artist's interpretation of the original iron works (found on a Butler's Forge Hammer Restaurant menu) and, for comparison, a furnace from the Bear Spring Iron Furnace in Stewart County, Tenn.

"I am so proud of this, so proud of this idea," Mayor David Wear said. "As you grow older and realize who you are and where you're from, and that the world isn't always the same, and you see that you're area's unique and take pride in that, it's a wonderful thing."

Another marker has also been placed to commemorate Fort Wear and pioneer Samuel Wear, who fought in the Revolutionary War and helped form county, territorial, State of Franklin and Tennessee governments.

A third marker will soon be placed on Veterans Boulevard near Dollywood Lane to note the Pigeon River Railroad, which hauled tan bark and acid wood from the mountains.

At least 15 other historical markers have been proposed to be placed over the next few years, along with at least 10 markers placed by private businesses.

Similarly, the town's driving tour brochure is being updated to include more stops, and numbered signs will be placed along the stops to coincide with brochure information.

The markers are a project of the Pigeon Forge Public Library.

"It is the wish of the library staff to bring to life our past through these markers," said Veta King, project manager and library historian, in a prepared statement. "We hope that residents and visitors will find depth to the town as pioneer stories are shared. These stories have a place in this bustling town of activity so that people can know the origins of Pigeon Forge."

rhargett@themountainpress.com