“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)

Henderson Springs Resort

Henderson Springs Resort Marker image. Click for full size.
By Marcia Nelson, 2014
1. Henderson Springs Resort Marker
Inscription. Henderson’s Spring, as listed in early post office records, was a place name in the Pigeon Forge area as early as 1858, just before the Civil War. Elijah Henderson, son of William H. and Mary Catherine Cannon Henderson, and his family developed a popular resort around a mineral spring only 400 feet north of this marker. The mineral water was promoted as an “effective and invigorating tonic.” People from miles around brought buckets and filled them with this “special” water that poured from an old gun barrel spout. It was said to be better than “doctorin’ medicine.” A chemist declared that the spring water contained eleven minerals which included “sulphates,” carbonates, chlorides and many other healthy properties.

A two-story wooden hotel was constructed in 1878 across from the spring and consisted of ten rooms, a dining room for eighty, and a spacious kitchen with two huge wood cook stoves. A platform spanned the small branch and led to the spring and concrete spring house where icy cold water kept food fresh. A second platform farther north led to a small concession stand and was an open-air picnic area lined with benches. Neighbors spent many hours here at the “bull pen” visiting with neighbors, smoking cheap Champ Clark cigars, and enjoying the outdoors.

In 1897

Henderson Springs Resort Marker image. Click for full size.
By Marcia Nelson, 2014
2. Henderson Springs Resort Marker
a new three-story hotel with 32 rooms, wide halls, and wide stairways was built just north of the old hotel. To the south on a pine-thatched knoll sat an open-air square dance pavilion. Sam Henderson became owner of the resort after his father Elijah died in 1898.

Prominent Knoxville families and others traveled on the Knoxville, Sevierville and Eastern train and by hack to Henderson Springs. The resort charged a dollar a day at the end of the 1800s. There was a daily mail service, and People’s Telephone Exchange provided telephone service. Electric lights, powered by a Delco system, were added in the early 1900s. Musicians filled the air with songs from the piano or stringed instruments, and Pinkney Rauhuff called out square dances as guests in their finery whirled and curtsied. They enjoyed straw rides in a horse-drawn wagon and homemade ice cream on Saturday nights. Playing croquet or tennis and swimming in a nearby swimming hole passed the lazy days of summer, and guests also enjoyed fishing and “gunning.”

Then the Great Depression came, and Henderson Springs Resort closed in 1930, its buildings left in lonely isolation. The final remaining structure burned in the 1960s, and all that remains of the resort’s heyday is the mineral spring.

A battle was fought in this area in the fall of 1894 between a band of vigilantes known as the White-Caps and a counter group named the Blue-Bills. The White-Caps had planned a raid in the community but were thwarted as a result of an informant. Men died on both sides. E.W. Crozier documented this in his 1899 book, The WHITE-CAPS: A History of the Organization in Sevier County. He wrote, “On a cold November night… the people in the neighborhood of Henderson’s Springs were startled by the firing, in rapid succession, of perhaps one hundred shots. They were heard for several miles around and ceased as abruptly as they began. For a moment an oppressive stillness reigned, then the clatter of horses’ hoofs and the splashing of water could be heard in every direction. Marauding bands of White-Caps were heading for home with the speed of fleet horses, regardless of fences, roads or fords... A detachment each of White-Caps and a sheriff’s posse had met on the battlefield and the White-Caps were routed…The conflict took place at a point only one half mile from the famous summer resort, Henderson’s Springs, where a narrow road runs around the craggy cliff overhanging the beautiful Pigeon River.” Beyond this marker are Battle Hill Road and White Cap Lane, both named for this skirmish.

Caption: The Henderson brothers promised a pleasant stay at this thirty-two room Henderson Springs Resort hotel built in 1897, pictured above. The spacious porches were added in 1914. Spotless linens covered iron beds, and pine-board wash stands held fresh water in ironstone pitchers. Long boardinghouse style tables were laden with country ham, hot biscuits, country butter, fresh garden vegetables and pies. Corn was ground for bread at the mill down the road. (This 1916 photograph is courtesy of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Library and Archives).

Caption: This Henderson Springs Resort facility was photographed in 1916. A large kitchen serviced the dining area for eighty, and there were guest rooms upstairs. R. Leslie Chiles is pictured at left, and his daughter Mary Ruth is at right. (This photograph is courtesy of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Library and Archives.)

Caption: A platform spanned the small branch of water leading to the spring and spring house. Notice the pitcher and the stream of water pouring from a gun barrel spout. Nearby, a second platform led to an open-air picnic pavilion and concession stand. (This 1916 photograph is courtesy of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Library and Archives.)

Caption: Swimmers enjoy the river behind Sam Henderson’s grist mill near the corner of present-day Henderson Chapel Road and Riverbend Loop Road. (This 1916 photograph is courtesy of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Library and Archives.)

Dicie Carnes Henderson, pictured at left, was the first wife of Samuel Henderson, owner of Henderson Springs Resort. She died in 1887, giving birth to Dicie Henderson Hatcher, pictured above. (This photograph is courtesy of Agnes Hatcher Marshall.)

Caption: Samuel Henderson with his second wife Sallie Runyan, a descendant of Barefoot Runyan, one of Pigeon Forge’s earliest settlers. (Courtesy of Agnes Hatcher Marshall)
Erected 2014 by City of Pigeon Forge.
Location. 35° 48.183′ N, 83° 35.381′ W. Marker is in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in Sevier County. Marker is on Henderson Springs Road 0.4 miles north of Wears Valley Rd, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Pigeon Forge TN 37863, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Fort Wear (approx. 0.4 miles away); Wear's Fort (approx. 0.7 miles away); Pine Grove Rural Community (approx. one mile away); Shiloh Church (approx. one mile away); a different marker also named Shiloh Church (approx. one mile away); Titanic Eternal Flame (approx. 1.4 miles away); Titanic’s Center Anchor (approx. 1.4 miles away); Early Pigeon Forge (approx. 2.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pigeon Forge.
Additional keywords. Battle Hill
Categories. EntertainmentIndustry & Commerce

Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 26, 2014, by Marcia Nelson of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 422 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 26, 2014, by Marcia Nelson of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
Paid Advertisement We are suspending advertising until they remove an ad for a certain book from circulation. A word in the book’s title has given rise to number of complaints. The word is inappropriate in school classroom settings.