Great Smoky Mountain database continues to grow with panoramic photos

Since November, the Database of the Smokies has become a source for both scholars and people with casual interest in the area to find information on the Great Smoky Mountains as well as submit findings of their own to make this a primary source for information on the mountain range.

Now the Great Smoky Mountain Regional Collections – the main site over the database – has another addition to make the database even more special: digital collection of Elgin P. Kintner’s panorama photographs of the mountain range.

Kintner, a physician from Maryville, Tenn., often hiked the Great Smoky Mountains and caught many images of them with his camera. After his death in 2008, his daughter, Beccie King, brought the images to the Collections with the promise that they would be of value to this database.

Anne Bridges, co-director of UT’s Great Smoky Mountain Regional Project, described the photos as unique. In the 1960s and 1970s, Kintner would go on top of the fire towers and take still photos. Members of the project have stitched those photographs together in order to make the panoramas.

“The technology didn’t exist [then] to stitch them together, so we saw them on a foam board where he just pasted them together to make overlapping images so he could see them,” Bridges said.

The project has since digitized most of the images as well as added metadata, or catalog records, to some of the images to give information to the one of a kind photographs.

Bridges said she believes what makes Kinter’s images so unique is the fact that there just aren’t many panorama-type photographs of the Great Smoky Mountains form the time period they were taken.

“Some of the photos are more important now because [Kintner] stood on top of fire towers that no longer exist now,” Bridges said.

In addition to acquiring the Kintner photographs, the project has also added many full text items and up to 3,000 records thanks to crowd sourcing and other scholars working in the area.