Hartford, Tennessee is utter paradise for nature lovers, wildlife lovers, water lovers, camping lovers, and more. Located in Cocke County and inside the Cherokee National Forest, this tiny town’s population is only 800. If you are looking for a quiet getaway, there may just be no better place than Hartford, Tennessee.
Originally known as the Pigeon Valley area, Hartford’s first documented settler arrived in 1853. Soon after, more people began to populate the area, and the business began to boom. By business, we mean the logging business. Due to the vast forestry in the mountainous region and the rapidly flowing Pigeon River, the logging industry thrived because of the operations that took place in Pigeon Valley. This region is thought to have once been the “headquarters” of the logging industry as a whole.
In the early 1900s, Hartford received its name to honor John Hart. He was one of the owners of the Tennessee and North Carolina Railroad Company, and he played a significant role in getting Hartford’s economy up and running. This town had lots of ups and downs as many small towns do because, without economic opportunity, it was difficult for families to reside there. The two greatest things that happened to Hartford were the Boice Hardwood Company and Interstate 40.
Boice Hardwood Company set up shop in Hartford in the year 1917. This company brought so much productivity to the area that Hartford was able to establish a school, post office, grocery, and more. Sadly, the timber industry was severely impacted by the Great Depression, and Boice Hardwood Company was forced to shut down. Therefore, from the 1930s up until the construction of Interstate 40, Hartford struggled and was somewhat desolate.
In the 1960s, Interstate 40 opened up to travelers. Lucky for Hartford, the highway ran straight through the town. This allowed Hartford to get back on its feet. Truck drivers, vacationers, and people simply passing through frequently stopped in the small town to rest, fill up their gas tank, or grab a bite to eat.
Hartford is still small, but it is full of charm. The Pigeon River is as beautiful and rapid as ever. Visit Smoky Mountain River Rat’s outpost in Hartford this season for a fun and exhilarating time with friends and family. We look forward to hosting you!