“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Pigeon Forge in Sevier County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)

Pigeon Forge Elementary School / Pigeon Forge Canning Factory

Pigeon Forge Elementary School/Pigeon Forge Canning Factory Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Marcia Nelson, June 24, 2014
1. Pigeon Forge Elementary School/Pigeon Forge Canning Factory Marker
Inscription.  The Sevier County School Board purchased a piece of land on the old James L. Gobble farm for a brand new Pigeon Forge schoolhouse on September 1, 1917 and paid five hundred dollars. It was located on a knoll northeast of this marker between Middle Creek Road and the Dixie Canning Company site, presently the southwest corner of the Teaster Lane and Old Mill Avenue intersection. Students left the old Pigeon Forge Academy across the Little Pigeon River and began filling the empty halls of the new white clapboard building in August of 1923. This was in the growing business district which already included the Old Mill, the Dixie Canning Company, two stores, a blacksmith shop, and a railroad station.

Mr. Norman R. Prickett was the first principal of this four-room school which later was expanded to include another classroom and a gymnasium/auditorium. Mr. Frank Marshall served as principal from the early 1930s until the early 1960s, the longest term in the school’s history. He coached the basketball teams through long winning streaks, driving the players to games in a canvas-covered cattle truck. Games were first played in an abandoned milling

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company warehouse nearby. Tin pans, purchased at fifteen cents each, were used as light reflectors along the walls since there was no electricity. Times were hard in earlier days, so residents made the boys’ uniforms. They filled a large pot with orange dye and colored old tee shirts, then attached letters cut from second-hand black felt hats. Team mothers stitched uniforms for the girls.

In 1933 and 1934 Roger Ward taught at the two-year high school in the school’s converted auditorium.

These teachers taught at Pigeon Forge Elementary in 1952/53, the last year that students attended classes in this building: Mr. Frank Marshall, principal, Miss Jean Conner, Mrs. Betty Large, Mrs. Edith Lafollette, Mrs. Ethel Lawson, Mrs. Hester Robertson, Mrs. Lela Gobble, and Mrs. Reba Hood. A chapter in Pigeon Forge’s education history ended as classes closed that year in the old white building on the hill.

Pigeon Forge Elementary School Basketball Team, 1940s: From left to right, front row: Pat Whaley, Willis Whaley, James Barnes, Ray Huskey, and Herbert Whaley; back row: Coach Frank Marshall, Carroll Lindsey, Jim McCall, Claude King, Carl Huskey, and Ben Maples; Photograph is courtesy of Ted Loveday.

Pigeon Forge Elementary School, circa 1948. From left to right, front row: Wanda Trevena, Shirley Caton, Carolyn Barnes, Christine McCarter, Avalee Ward, Mary Lou Cardwell,

Pigeon Forge Elementary School/Pigeon Forge Canning Factory Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Marcia Nelson, June 24, 2014
2. Pigeon Forge Elementary School/Pigeon Forge Canning Factory Marker
Junior Reagan, James Stogner, David Householder, David Montgomery, Bob Woodruff, and Billy Ray Whaley.

Second row: Max Trotter, Ted Campbell, James David Ogle, Jerry Ogle, R. Ogle, Perry (Cotton) Adams, James Delozier, Glenn Maples, Ruby Henry, and Carolyn Whaley This photograph is courtesy of Mrs. Rena Ogle.

Pigeon Forge Elementary School, early 1930s – Pictured are teachers and students at play, including Jessie Large (Sims), the young girl, second from left, lower left corner. Sunlight and breezes that cooled late August heat flowed through tall windows at this early schoolhouse. Originally, there was no electricity or plumbing at the school, so a hand-pumped fountain with multiple spouts provided drinking water. Restrooms consisted of outdoor toilets, and kerosene lamps lit the classrooms. Classes marched one row at a time to stand huddled around warm pot-bellied stoves on extremely cold winter days. Students had to build early morning fires in those big stoves as punishment for unruly behavior. This photograph is courtesy of Brenda Sims Rudder.

Dixie Canning Company opened in Pigeon Forge in 1917, the same year that rural mailboxes were installed throughout the county. Canning operations sat at the west end of Dixie Street around the site of this marker. Dixie Canning Company advertised that year that it would purchase beans, berries, pumpkins, apples

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and tomatoes. Farmers could expect to earn between $60 and $160 dollars per acre growing tomatoes and thirty cents per bushel for tender young green beans. A. F. (Freeman) Stott and Stanley Householder of Pigeon Forge purchased part ownership of the company in 1920, and the name became Pigeon Forge Canning Company. In 1925 co-owners were Cleo Burchfiel, A.F. Stott, C.D. (Creighton) Hicks, and W.F. (Walter) Benson. At this time, company lands included twenty-two acres and at least seven lots east of the Knoxville, Sevierville and Eastern Railroad, the Pigeon River Railroad branch. Pigeon Forge Canning Company was chartered with $16,000 of stock on April 16, 1925.Throughout its existence, various Pigeon Forge businessmen, including Mr. Stott’s brother A.G. (Arthur), were partners in the company.

On September 20, 1930, about a year after the stock market crash, the canning company paid $800 at a foreclosure auction in front of the milling company door for the Pigeon Forge Milling Company warehouse and lot south of the mill. That same year the Stokely family of Newport joined the company. The facility included four buildings totaling 12,400 feet of floor space, and its canning capacity was 48,000 cans per day. There were approximately one hundred employees during canning season. Women came to work at the factory each time the whistle sounded as a new crop of vegetables arrived. Water was drawn from the river for use in the steam engines, but a deep well supplied water for the canning operation.

Pigeon Forge Canning Company closed in the 1930s, and Mr. Walter Benson purchased the largest tract of land (18 acres) from the company in 1935. Stokely Foods, Inc. sold the smaller tract of approximately two acres to W.H. Buckner in 1946. Today, the only remnants of the Pigeon Forge Canning Company are an abandoned well and the scales house which, in 2014, was occupied by a local business at the west end of Dixie Avenue.

“The first dollar I ever made was at the canning factory, $1.58 a week for breaking beans. It was in an envelope. I was working with my sister Pearl; it made me think I was rich. I kept it for a long time. At this time I was between eight and nine years old and sometime later I decided I would go on a shopping trip down to the village in Pigeon Forge to Shirley Butler’s old general store.” -- John Trotter, great grandson of John Sevier Trotter. This photograph is courtesy of Mrs. Charlotte Connor.

Funded by City of Pigeon Forge - 2014
Erected 2014 by City of Pigeon Forge.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EducationIndustry & Commerce. A significant historical month for this entry is April 1833.
Location. 35° 47.283′ N, 83° 33.03′ W. Marker is in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in Sevier County. Marker can be reached from Old Mill Avenue, 0.2 miles east of The Parkway and Old Mill Avenue. This marker is located beside the walking trail in Patriot Park. It is on the east side of the park just past the Liberty Bell. Patriot Park is located just past the Old Mill Square at traffic light 7 on the Parkway. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Pigeon Forge TN 37863, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Sevier County Veterans Memorial (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Pigeon Forge Iron Works (approx. 0.2 miles away); Unionists Within the Confederacy (approx. 0.2 miles away); Pigeon River Railroad (approx. 0.2 miles away); First United Methodist Church of Pigeon Forge and Pigeon Forge Academy (approx. ¼ mile away); Early Pigeon Forge (approx. ¼ mile away); First Baptist Church Pigeon Forge (approx. 0.4 miles away); Broady Dairy (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pigeon Forge.

Credits. This page was last revised on July 23, 2020. It was originally submitted on June 26, 2014, by Marcia Nelson of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 934 times since then and 122 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 26, 2014, by Marcia Nelson of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Dec. 11, 2023