Welcome to Slow American English, the podcast for learners of American English. I’m your host, Karren Tolliver.
This is episode number 60: The Great Smoky Mountains
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The Great Smoky Mountains are part of the Appalachian Mountains, which is the major mountain range in the eastern United States. You may remember from Episode 44 that the Rocky Mountains in the western US are younger than the Appalachians. In fact, the Appalachians are between 300 and 500 million years old. Some scientists believe they are the oldest mountains in the world. The oldest rocks in the Smokies are over a billion years old.
The Great Smoky Mountains are also called the Smoky Mountains, or just the Smokies. They lie along the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. Their name comes from the fog that lies among the mountains which looks like smoke.
Because of the history and nature of the Smokies, they are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best-known and biggest part of the Smokies is the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, which was founded in 1934 and dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940. It is the most visited national park in the country.
The highest point in the Smokies is Clingman’s Dome, a mountain whose elevation is 6,643 feet above sea level. It’s the third highest point in the Appalachians.
The Native American Cherokee tribe lived in the area before European settlers arrived in the middle 1700s. The Cherokee took the side of the British in the Revolutionary War, which is why American forces invaded Cherokee territory and eventually took the land.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the logging industry destroyed about 90% of the old-growth, or original, forests in the Smokies. Most of the forests have grown back, at least in the park. About 187,000 acres of old-growth forest remain, which is the largest section of it in the eastern US.
Some well-known plants and animals in the Smokies are:
rhododendron and azalea shrubs
rattlesnakes and copperhead snakes
lightning bugs (fireflies)
black bears; the Smokies have the densest population of black bears east of the Mississippi River. In fact, the black bear is the symbol of the Smokies.
Tourism is a large part of the economy in and around the Smokies. It is a popular resort area, and visitors enjoy river rafting, tubing, hiking, climbing, zip-lining, fishing, mountain biking, camping, snowshoeing, skiing and many other outdoor activities.
A historical valley called Cade’s Cove is a favorite tourist spot inside the national park. Many people visit Laurel Falls, an 80-foot waterfall near Cade’s Cove. Other popular towns just outside the park are Cherokee, NC, and Gatlinburg, TN. And you may know that country singer Dolly Parton built an amusement park in Pigeon Forge, TN, called Dollywood.
From 1920 to 1933, alcohol was banned in the United States. This was called Prohibition. It was illegal to make, sell or drink alcohol during that time. Of course, people found a way to have alcohol anyway. Many small alcohol-producing operations were hidden in the Smokies. The alcohol they produced was called “moonshine” because they secretly made the alcohol at night by the light of the moon. Today, you can buy legal moonshine at some shops near the Smokies. It is probably better than the illegal stuff available during Prohibition!
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That’s the podcast for this time. Slow American English is written and produced by Karren Tolliver. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.
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Theme music for this podcast is written and performed by SW Campbell and used by permission. Find more music by this artist at www.Soundclick.com/swcampbell.
This has been Slow American English. I’m Karren Tolliver. Thank you for listening.