Ken Burns shares secrets of Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Cherokee Indians major population centers Scotch Irish Yosemite Yellowstone Atlantic Ocean Mississippi River United States
Ken Burns sat down with USA TODAY and shared some secrets of America's national parks. Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan are the creators of the PBS documentary "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," available via ShopPBS.org.
Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)
00:00 Great smoky mountain is the most visited national park but
00:04 in some ways the least now. It's most visited because it's
00:12 in eastern part of the United States close to the major
00:15 population centers and it's also a place where people drive through
00:19 it. But he is in wonderful wonderful wonderful park and it
00:24 represents. He would have. To save the last wild oats and
00:29 appellation and eastern states. Dared to rate hikes. Until two waterfalls.
00:36 In the increase in Toms. I'm really wonderful and -- it.
00:43 I can read a quote from -- -- part about the
00:45 smoky mountains Snead devoted his life to saving the mountains and
00:49 creating power. He says the dreamy blue haze that ever hovers
00:53 over the mountains softens all -- Lends a mirage like effective
00:58 great distance to objects that are but a few miles. Of
01:02 those father. Grew more and more intangible. Until finally this guy
01:06 lands with this guy it's. -- -- -- You can vanish
01:15 and it's its announcement. About I think and most of the
01:19 national parks -- about losing yourself. Losing the busy. Life you
01:24 know we call ourselves human beings but we're really human dunes
01:27 and the national parks allow us to reconnect to something. More
01:31 essential element. He used to be said that a squirrel could
01:38 go from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River without one
01:41 inch -- -- there was that much dense. Cover forest cover.
01:47 That's not true anymore but the smoking's on mountains in --
01:51 to save it was to save the last of the old
01:53 growth forest it's also placed in which. The creation of the
01:57 park forced the removal of existing towns. And so there's a
02:00 great human story to this the great human story on the
02:04 appellation people Cherokee Indians and old Scotch Irish and. Sort of
02:10 refugees from the old confederacy who had to be uprooted and
02:13 transplanted you can find. The little green -- school was still
02:17 standing there and you can take hikes on -- little false
02:20 and spectacular in the sense that. Yosemite is spectacular or. Or
02:27 Yellowstone falls spectacular that they have a kind of intimacy that
02:30 all you need to do is park and get off the
02:33 many many roads this large park. And see that mountain. It's
02:40 that is part this beautiful. Mythological place so much of Americans.
02:46 Music country music. So much of our songs and her stories
02:50 come from mythology and -- smoking and we wouldn't have you
02:55 would have sort of trickled out and guys. Had not been
02:57 saved this.
While the U.S. national parks celebrate nature at its best, Burns says that there's a great drama to the Smoky Mountains. Creation of the park forced the removal of existing towns and "not everyone wanted to be removed," Burns said.
"Remember they're leaving dead family members in the family cemetery ... or churches that they worshiped in all their lives. A lot of people were grandfathered in and permitted to stay there until they passed away and then it became a part of our common wealth."
Burns says that one of the best things about this park is its intimacy. All you "need to do is park and get off the many, many roads of this large park and see that blue mountain haze that is part of this beautiful mythological place." Watch the video above to hear what two trails are Burns' favorites in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.