Little Greenbrier is perhaps best known as the location of both the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse and Walker Cabin – with both of them on the National Register of Historic Places, it’s a cool way to explore the history of the area.
The earliest settlers in the area are believed to have arrived in the 1830s from nearby North Carolina, and the Walker Cabin is thought to have been built in the 1840s.
walker sisters house
The Walker Sisters were some of the last living residents inside what is now the National Park. When the federal government decided to establish a national park in the Smokies, the five sisters refused to sell their land. They eventually came to an agreement with the government whereby they sold their land but retained a lifetime lease on the property.
The Walker sisters claimed their land produced everything they needed except sugar, coffee, soda and salt. And until the last sister passed away in 1964, they farmed the land while supplementing their efforts with the sale of souvenirs to tourists.
Little greenbrier school
Built in 1882, the Little Greenbrier School functioned as the community school until 1936. Over its fifty-four year history, it was used as a schoolhouse under the supervision of nearly fifty teachers, and it was the house of worship for a Primitive Baptist church. It is located at the center of what was once Little Greenbrier.
The schoolhouse still contains the desks and blackboard left there when it was last in use in the 1930’s. Grades 1-8 were taught at Greenbrier school by a single teacher. During summer months in the past the National Park Service has offered presentations on mountain schooling. On the hillside just outside the schoolhouse, you will find an old community cemetery.
The Greenbrier Cemetery is awkwardly constructed on a slope and is representative of typical Appalachian cemeteries. Sadly, nearly half of the graves belong to children.
Have you ever been to the ghost town of Little Greenbrier? If you’re looking for a way to bring history to life, this visit is highly recommended.