Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Theodore H. Schmudde

Committee Members

Edwin H Hammond, Robert G. Long, Charles S. Aiken, and Frank O. Leuthold


Among Government officials, planners, and citizens there is an almost universal belief that any economic growth will benefit the people of the area in which it occurs. This research tests that assumption through an analysis of resort development in the Gatlinburg, Tennessee area from 1930 to 1973. Its purpose is to investigate the processes of change accompanying rapid economic growth with a particular emphasis on how indigenous land owners and entrepreneurs have fared as participants in the economic system.

A geographic approach is employed to examine the processes which shape the economic character of the area and affect indigenous participation. Evidence of rapid economic growth is documented through sequential counts of population, visitors, buildings, businesses, and gross business receipts for various representative years from 1930 to 1973. The territorial growth of Gatlinburg is measured through expansion of the incorporated area, built-up area, and fragmented (small parcel) area with special attention to the role of commercial and residential land uses.

The impact of economic growth on indigenous participation is indicated by the changing control of land and business in the study area. Land ownership data were obtained directly from tax records. Data on business ownership were taken from field investigation and other primary sources. The participants are classified as indigenous residents of Sevier County, newcomers of ten years or less as of 1972, and outsiders.

It was found that indigenous people are participating less and less in the major benefits of Gatlinburg's economic growth. Outsiders and newcomers are rapidly increasing their control of motel accommodations and key speculative land. Overall benefits to indigenous land owners and entrepreneurs have been quite limited since about 1968. Moreover, this shift of benefits to exogenous participants is a consequence of the processes of resort development and may be expected to occur in similar growth elsewhere.

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