Bill Hooks

A Brief Biography


Bill Hooks has become a well known and beloved character around Gatlinburg and the Smokies over the last thirty years. Bill came to the Park Service as an Interpreter in 1972 from the University of Tennessee, where he had completed his doctoral work in Plant Ecology.

Although he is one of our leading experts on wildflowers and forests, he also had an abiding interest in history. He began collecting oral histories and photographs from the logging days on the Little River, and developed a slide and lecture program on the Little River Railroad and Lumber Companies called "Whistle Over the Mountain."

This program was presented regularly at the Elkmont Campground for many years. It was seen by over 300,000 people, more than any other program presented anywhere by the National Park Service. This program became the basis for a book by the same name, which is now the definitive history of the Little River Lumber Company.

Bill retired from the Park Service in 1984. Since that time he has taught more than 240 classes at Elderhostels on the mountains, their people and their culture. He has also served as a guide for several Smoky Mountain tour companies, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum in Townsend.

In addition to his doctoral work at UT, Bill also holds a BS degree from the University of Illinois in Horticulture, a BA degree from Blackburn College in Biology and Chemistry, and an MS degree from Northern Illinois University in Biology, Ecology and Earth Sciences.