Tag Archives: Cades Cove

The Little River Railroad and Lumber Co. Museum

As we bring another installment to our Off the Beaten Path Series we highlight the Little River Railroad and Lumber Co. Museum in Townsend TN. Many guests of The Resort at Governor’s Crossing visit and enjoy the beauty and history of Cades Cove but have no idea how close they are to a big part of the regions heritage at this small museum.

Water tower at Museum

Water tower at Museum

Located on Lamar Alexander Parkway just a mile east of Wears Valley Road, the most popular route to Cades Cove from The Resort, sits this museum of early 1900s railroading and logging. W. B Townsend, whom the town was named after, came to the region after having run a successful logging business in Pennsylvania. In 1901 he founded two companies, the Little River Lumber Co. and the Little River Railroad. Soon the lumber company owned nearly 80,000 acres of timber in what is now the Smoky Mountain National Forest.
As the two companies began to flourish; workers, their families, and other settlers moved into the area starting other businesses. Saw mills, tanneries and even tourism provided many opportunities for these settlers as the railroad serviced over 150 miles in the region. In 1924 the Great Smoky Mountains Conservation Assoc. was formed hoping to turn the area into a national park. After many negotiations, W.B. Townsend sold the land, retaining logging rights for another 15 years, giving conservationists 80,000 acres to advance the park movement. By the late 1930s most of the trees had been harvested and the small camps and towns in the region began to disappear and along with them much of the history of the region.
The Little River Railroad and Lumber Co. Museum provides a small look into this history. Outside you will find a locomotive, railcars, steam engine and a logging crane. Inside the Walland Depot, restored and moved here in 1983, you will find artifacts, photos and stories about the region and the life these people lived. Alongside the depot sits a gift shop, a replica of the Elkmont Post Office, with volunteers who gladly offer more stories of the history of the railroad and logging company.

70 Ton Class C Shay Locomotive used by Little River Railroad from 1932-35.

70 Ton Class C Shay Locomotive used by Little River Railroad from 1932-35.

Walland Depot moved to this location in 1983

Walland Depot moved to this location in 1983

Train moving logs to be milled

Train moving logs to be milled

Admission is free, donations are greatly appreciated. The museum is open daily in June, July, August, and October. Also they are open on weekends in April, May and September and by appointment only November through March.
Directions from The Resort: Turn right onto Collier Drive going .5 mile to the intersection with the Parkway. Turn left on Parkway going 2.4 miles to traffic light #3 in Pigeon Forge. Turn right onto Wears Valley Rd. (Hwy 321) traveling 16 miles to the junction of Hwy 321 & Hwy 73, Lamar Alexander Pkwy. Take a right at light and proceed 1 mile, the museum will be on your right.
Directions from Cades Cove Loop Rd exit: Right on Laurel Creek Rd traveling 7.4 miles to intersection of Hwy 73/Townsend Entrance Rd. going left to exit National Park. Travel 3.2 miles Lamar Alexander Pkwy (Hwy 321 S), museum will be on your right.

Human Interaction Harms one of Tennessee’s Free Attractions

One of East Tennessee’s and here in the Smokies great attractions is the chance to see a black bear in the wild. People come from near and far with the hope of seeing one of these bears and other wildlife as this area holds the greatest bear population in the entire state.

Mother & Cub

Mother & Cub

On top of that viewing them in the wild is free as The Great Smoky Mountain National Park has no admission fees. That’s right; you can drive through Cades Cove, the Roaring Fork, all over the park and only have to pay for your fuel. Sadly foolish, uneducated, and uncaring tourists are ruining the chance for you and your family to observe these bears.

A recent report by Knoxville WBIR TV News brought to light that poor behavior by certain tourists is harming these bears leading to their removal or even causing the need for certain bears to be killed. They reported how tourists fed a female black bear and her three cubs in Cades Cove causing them to become “Nuisance Bears”. This forced the park service to capture and relocate the mother bear and her cubs 40 miles from the area. The article goes on to tell of a bear having to be euthanized in 2010 because of it approaching hikers in the Laurel Falls area wanting food.

Full WBIR News Article

The WBIR article also reported on the story in Country Magazine where the lady bragged about approaching an angry mother bear and her cubs in Cades Cove to get that “photographic treasure”. Thankfully enough public backlash caused the magazine to retract the story.

Cub in tree eating berries

Cub in tree eating berries

The law states you must stay back 50 yards and may not disturb or displace these animals. Visitors can be arrested and fined for violating this law. Bring a zoom lens and stay back. Don’t feed the bears! Keep your distance, stay safe and keep them safe.

Black Bear Safety Tips

Cades Cove Loop Road Repairs to be Completed Early

Officials with Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced that road work on the Cades Cove Loop Road would be completed almost a month ahead of schedule. To celebrate the early finish the park will open April 24 to only pedestrians and bicyclists until noon then motorists will be allowed access that afternoon.
On Sunday April 25 the road will be open for the “Cades Cove Loop Lope” offering runners a once in a lifetime opportunity to compete in either a 3.5 mile or the full 11 mile loop. Organized by the park and Friends of the Smokies, the event will require participants to register in advance for the run. Participation fees are high ($75 for the 3.5 and $100 for the 11 mile) but all money will be used to support park projects. We have provided a link for further information on this special event, go to the Friends of the Smokies web site.

Road Repairs Scheduled in National Park

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park will be closing certain roads this spring for much needed repairs. These repairs will affect some of the parks most popular areas.

The Cades Cove Loop Road near Townsend, is slated for repaving from March 1 through May 21. Due to the fact the road has not been repaved in over thirty years, it will need to be totally closed down as it will require total reconstruction.

Clingmans Dome Road, which normally opens April 1st, will be kept closed until around May 29th. Along with road repairs, new public facilities are being installed at the parking area at Clingmans Dome.

The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is also scheduled to be closed till May 29th.  The popular 5 mile scenic loop is in Gatlinburg.

Weather conditions will play an important factor in getting these three projects completed on time. This winter and last fall have been extremely wet causing rock slides along certain roads and making for wet working conditions. We will report any announced delays in scheduled opening dates here on our blog and also on our Twitter page.

Tremont’s Annual Fall Hike

The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont’s fall hike to Rich Mountain will be held this Saturday at 9AM. The 7.5 mile hike is considered moderately difficult and will climb 1766 feet up the side of Rich Mountain with views of Cades Cove. On the way down hikers will stop at the John Oliver Cabin for exploring.
Cost is $15 per hiker and one should bring food and water along for the hike. To register for the hike call 865-448-6709 or email to: mail@gsmit.org.
The hike is one of many organized yearly by the Legacy of Tremont, a group of volunteers who help bring public awareness and support to Tremont. The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont is a nonprofit organization providing experiences through residential educational programs.

Fall Foliage in Cades Cove

The fall color is currently at its peek in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains but will not last long. Yesterday a park volunteer stated that this was the most vibrant colors he could remember; as he concurred with the comments I made on Tuesday evening here on the blog about this years fall colors.

Traffic is currently heavy on the loop road but well worth the time. Even the drive just getting to Cades Cove is colorful whether one travels the Little River Road from Gatlinburg, Wears Valley Rd. from Pigeon Forge, or Hwy 321 from Maryville.

Taken from the Loop Rd in Cades Cove on 10/28/2009

Taken from the Loop Rd in Cades Cove on 10/28/2009

Taken just outside the entrance to Cades Cove on 10/28/2009

Taken just outside the entrance to Cades Cove on 10/28/2009

Fall Foliage from Cades Cove

Having spent part of the day yesterday in Cades Cove, we decided to add this photo showing the autumn color change in the Great Smoky Mountains. This westward facing photo was taken in the vicinity of the Carter Shields cabin. It seems like one can almost see a change in the color of the leaves on a daily basis now.

Fall Foliage Cades Cove 10/21/2009

Fall Foliage Cades Cove 10/21/2009

Abrams Falls Trail Closed Again

Due to a continued bear problem park rangers have closed the Abrams Falls Trail in Cades Cove for the second time this month. Park officials stated that they do not plan to reopen the very popular trail in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park until the black bear can be tracked or caught. The park service’s web site has updates on road and facilities closures.

Nuisance Bears in the Park

This spring in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park there have been many instances of nuisance bear activity. The popular Abrams Falls Trail was closed for a day this past week due to two reports of a black bear becoming aggressive towards hikers.
Some shelters and backcountry campsites are currently closed and bear warning signs have been posted at many shelters and trails including the Abrams Falls Trail. The nuisance bears have been a particular concern in the popular Cades Cove area.
The Nation Park Service web site has a very interesting article on Black Bears that has safety guidelines if you encounter a bear. Visitors may wish to check at the parks visitor centers or ranger stations before hiking or camping for further information.