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Ober Gatlinburg sold to group of Sevier County natives

Joe Baker, a group member, founded Ole Smoky Moonshine and Yee-Haw Brewing.

GATLINBURG, Tenn. — Ober Gatlinburg has been sold to a group of Sevier County natives, according to an announcement from the company.

The group is led by the families of Joe Baker, Cory Cottongim and Chuck Edwards.

Baker is known for starting Ole Smoky Moonshine and Yee-Haw Brewing.

“Gatlinburg is our home,” Baker said. “The vision for Ober Gatlinburg that was laid out by its founder, Claude Anders, is inspirational. He saw that the greatest views of the Smokies exist up there, high above town, and made it someplace special. His sons have carried on his legacy, and we’re looking forward to celebrating their heritage and continuing their vision.” 

Baker also hired the former president of the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau to be the new CEO—Mark Adams.

“The Baker family and their partners care deeply about this community,” said Kent Anders, former President of Ober Gatlinburg, Inc. “Families have been making memories here for over 50 years, and we’re excited to see the opportunities that this transition will offer our guests and employees.”

Anders described selling the company as a 'bittersweet' experience, but it was something that had to happen. 

""While there is a second generation, but there's not anyone who was receptive to taking over. So we knew, we knew eventually, we would have to," said Anders.

According to Anders, the opportunity came as a surprise when he was contacted by Baker, Cottingim and Edwards. 

"And it's ironic that it's another family." So it's been a long, exciting experience. But we're, I think I speak for all of our staff has been retained. So that was really important to me," said Anders. 

The seeds of Ober Gatlinburg were planted in 1972 and 1973 when the lower terminal of the Aerial Tramway was built on the original site of The Hemlock Motel. At the time, the ski resort was separate from the tramway, having been built in 1962 and opening as a private club.

In 1975, Claude Anders purchased both the tramway and the resort and merged them into one organization. Two years later, Ober Gatlinburg was officially named after the German word for "upper" or "top of." Literally, the name could mean "Upper Gatlinburg."

Since then, Ober Gatlinburg grew to introduce an ice rink, retail areas, an arcade, a slide, a wildlife encounter, a rock climbing wall, mini golf, summer tubing and many other year-round activities. There are also dining options for visitors who want to see the top of Gatlinburg.

They are also currently hosting OktOBERfest until October 30, inspired by the original Oktoberfest in Munich. The fall celebration is meant to provide visitors with a unique chance to see the colors of the leaves change across the Great Smoky Mountains, as fall sets into the area.

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