Three years ago today I released the abandoned exploration film Tennessee Mountain View.

The loss of the Mountain View Hotel changed the landscape of Gatlinburg, but it also changed the tone and tenor of the town. Or at the very least it showed how far leaders would go to compete for tourism dollars with ‘action-packed’ Pigeon Forge: a historic hotel was destroyed to put up carnival rides.

This sort of competitive utilitarianism drove much of the development of Sevier County for decades, leading to everything from rampant cabin-building on mountainsides to towns taking on hundreds of millions of dollars of debt to construct enormous events centers to attract tourists.

’Progress’ always trumped ‘preservation’ until the Great Recession. There seems to be a bit more awareness now of heritage, but it could be that banks just won’t loan money for some of the more audacious development ideas.
— Greg Johnson, Opinion Columnist, Knoxville News Sentinel