Litton-Slaven Historic Farmstead, Big South Fork NRRA, Tennessee
Litton-Slaven Historic Farmstead, Big South Fork NRRA, Tennessee | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures
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One of a few historic sites located within Big South Fork NRRA, the Litton-Slaven Farmstead is one of the best examples of an early Cumberland Plateau farm. Visitors to the farm will learn all about the early settlers of this land and how subsistence farming kept them thriving in such a remote wilderness. See the historic buildings and the left-over landmarks that have been preserved for several decades.

Table of Contents

About

Both the Litton and Slaven families practiced subsistence farming which allowed them to sustain all their own food and needs in such a rural place. The surrounding environment of the homestead offered bountiful natural plants and animal species that were great for not only food, but also medicinal purposes.

It was said that both families and their children were known to be hard-working and determined individuals. Family members of all ages were taught to cook, clean, and tend to the animals. They also learned to weave textiles, practice beekeeping and understand blacksmithing.

Barn at the Litton-Slaven Historic Farmstead, Big South Fork NRRA, Tennessee | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures
Barn at the Litton-Slaven Historic Farmstead, Big South Fork NRRA, Tennessee | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Litton Family

Around 1900, John Littleton Litton and his wife Elvira “Vi” (Dawes) Litton settled along the North Fork of the Fall Branch. John was about 45 and his wife Vi was 43. John’s family had notable heritage in the area as his grandfather, James Taylor Litton helped found Scott County, Tennessee.

Shortly after their arrival, they built a 1-1/2 story timber-framed home. The house was constructed on a sturdy stone foundation on a hill that allowed for views of the surrounding hills and woods.

As they continued to work the grounds and expand the farm, the Litton’s went on to raise their children and add more structures around the home site. Following the completion of their home, a hand-hewn barn was built nearby to allow for storage of livestock and farm equipment.

As the farm continued to grow, the amount of land needed to grow crops drastically increased. The 184-acre farm evolved to be self-sufficient, allowing the Litton family to grow their own food, raise animals and provide for their family.

After John Litton died in 1935, Vi sold the farm as it was a lot of upkeep on her own. She later passed away in 1945. Both John and Elvira are buried nearby in the Katie Blevins Cemetery.

Barn at the Litton-Slaven Historic Farmstead, Big South Fork NRRA, Tennessee | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures
Barn at the Litton-Slaven Historic Farmstead, Big South Fork NRRA, Tennessee | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Slaven Family

General Rudy Charles Slaven and his wife Mary “Did” (Miller) Slaven purchased the farm in 1935 from John Litton’s widow, Vi. The couple has just married a few years earlier in 1931. Charles was the great-grandson of Richard Slaven who was the first white settler of the Big South Fork region. Mary was the great-great-granddaughter of Jonathan Blevins who was the first white settler of nearby Station Creek.

The Slaven family was much like the Litton’s as they worked the land, provided for their children, and made sure their farm was upkept. Did loved to cook and would often ensure that no one went hungry during a visit. Charles added more structures to the site including a woodshed. He also created his very own manmade pond by building a dam on the Fall Branch. The pond still stands today and is the only historic site in the region where a manmade pond and dam are located.

Pond at the Litton-Slaven Historic Farmstead, Big South Fork NRRA, Tennessee
Pond at the Litton-Slaven Historic Farmstead, Big South Fork NRRA, Tennessee | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Big South Fork NRRA

In 1974, the creation of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area required the acquisition of the Litton-Slaven farm. The Slaven’s were still living and working the homestead site when the U.S. Government and Park Service purchased the land and forced them to leave the residence for the purposes of the park establishment.

With its proximity to what would become the Bandy Creek Visitor Center and Campground, the farm became a unique attraction to those visiting.

Plan Your Visit

The Litton-Slaven Historic Farmstead is located near the Bandy Creek area at the end of the Litton-Slaven Farm Loop gravel road.

Another way to access the farmstead is from the trailhead near the Bandy Creek pool. The John Litton Farm Loop Trail is about a 6.3-mile loop that winds from the pool area, past some amazing rockhouses, a stunning waterfall and finally to the homestead.

Visitors to the site cannot go inside the buildings per the park rules, but photography of the outside is welcomed.  

If you enjoyed reading this post or have visited the Litton-Slaven Historic Farmstead before, leave a comment below or share this post on your favorite social media!

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