In the mid-1800s, Switzerland was one of several European countries suffering from famine, failed crops and overcrowding. Captain Eugen Plumacher, the commissioner of emigration to the United States, and Peter Staub, a Swiss emigrant living in Knoxville, purchased 15,000 acres atop the South Cumberland Plateau and advertised the area to German- speaking Swiss looking to start a new life in America. Nearly 100 Swiss families, including farmers, artisans, merchants and professionals, arrived in Gruetli by the late 1870s.
Swiss settler Christian Marugg operated the Stagecoach Inn in Gruetli for travelers along the McMinnville-to-Chattanooga Stagecoach Route. Completed circa 1884, the inn was used as a hotel, dance hall and town meeting place. Marugg also brought the European-style scythe to Tennessee, founding the Marugg Company in 1873 to provide area farmers with the cutting tools they were accustomed to using in Europe.
Descendants of the immigrants formed the Swiss Historical Society of Grundy County that today preserves the historic Stoker-Stampfli Farm and Museum. Each summer, the society hosts a Swiss festival at the farm, with support from the Swiss consulate in Atlanta.
Other historic Swiss structures in Gruetli-Laager include the Suter Farm, Pickett Farm and Marugg Stagecoach Inn. Additional artifacts from that time period are displayed at the Grundy County Heritage Center in Tracy City.
Gruetli-Laager serves as the gateway to the Collins Gulf area via the Savage Gulf South trailhead in South Cumberland State Park.