The high-mountain valleys of Cataloochee present a dramatically different scene than a visitor would have encountered 100 years ago. In the early 1900s the community was home to about 800 people, two churches, four schools and a number of large farms, including apple orchards. Today the few remaining structures include the last schoolhouse, Palmer’s Chapel, Little Cataloochee Baptist Church, the Dan Cook cabin and a few homes and barns. Once surrounded by pastures and orchards, they are now encompassed by forest and wildlife, the result of an effort begun in the 1920s to acquire the region and return it to wilderness as part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Most of the people who left Cataloochee departed in sorrow and reluctance, for their families had spent the previous century carving livelihoods and homes in the remote northern corner of Haywood County. Their love for the land is reflected in the fact that each year, more than 400 original residents and their descendants return to Palmer’s Chapel for the Cataloochee Reunion, and many also attend a Little Cataloochee Reunion held the month before. Visitors are drawn to Cataloochee today for its beauty and solitude and, most recently, revival of the mountains’ elk population. Two centuries ago people were drawn by the promise of rich soil, abundant water and hopes of prosperous and fulfilling lives. The results of their efforts can be found in this collection of photographs, most taken before the land was returned to its native state.