Cocke County is located on the mid-eastern border of the state of Tennessee, deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. Cocke, Sevier and Blount Counties are the Tennessee homes of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – the crown jewel of the Eastern United States National Park System.
Cocke County History
Although Cocke County is known for mountain beauty and wildlife, its people braved the hardship and poverty on the frontier decades ago.
Cocke County is named for William Cocke, a Revolutionary War fighter and early political leader. He, along with William Blount, were the Tennessee’s first U.S. Senators.
The geography and culture of Cocke County is quite diverse. From its beginning in 1797, this Tennessee county has suffered from lack of unity in defining its personality and goals. On Cocke County’s eastern border, settlers and Indians were sharing the same mountain home, while on the western side, other pioneers were cultivating their river plains. Indian burial sites and ruins of ancient buildings were being plowed down. The two cultures also had two different languages which was forced to collide. These people, differing in speech, national origin and religion, but united in a common need for independence, grouped themselves into distinctive communities: Cosby, Hartford, Edwina, Del Rio, Parrottsville, Bybee, Carson Springs, Dutch Bottoms and Rankin. Over time, these communities became known as Cocke County.
At the turn of the 20th century, Newport was a bustling commercial and transportation center. The arrival of the railroad and building of the depot in 1867 are the reasons for the location of the county seat on the Pigeon River. The town began to build up on both sides of the railroad between the hills and the river. Formerly known as Clifton, the town took the name of Newport in the 1870s when it became the county seat.
Today, Cocke County is a thriving, but still diverse, community. Cocke County is located near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TVA Lakes, Cherokee National Forest, French Broad River and Pigeon River recreational activities like whitewater rafting.