Tag Archives: Elkmont

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.

Annual Synchronized Firefly Show

The first few weeks of June in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Mother Nature treats us with the annual lightshow of the synchronized fireflies. There are 12 species of the flashing fireflies know to inhabit the park. The “flashing” is caused by a chemical reaction in the firefly’s body.
Thus year the City of Gatlinburg will provide trolley service to the Elkmont Campground through June 12, as park officials will close the entrance road to Elkmont to all vehicles and pedestrians daily at 5PM until midnight. Registered campers staying at the Elkmont Campground will be exempt from this road closure. Due to safety concerns visitors will not be allowed to walk the Elkmont entrance.
The trolleys will pick up visitors at the Sugarland’s Visitor Center parking area at 7PM until the parking area is full or until 9PM which ever occurs first. The last return trolley from Elkmont will depart at 11PM. The roundtrip cost is $1 per person. There is no overflow parking at the Sugarland’s Visitor Center, and restrictions will be enforced, so arrive early.
It is recommended that visitors bring flashlights with red cellophane covers to reduce white light. Visitors may bring lawn chairs, and carry food & water in backpacks but these items must be able to fit on their laps while on the trolleys. There are no services available at the site and coolers, alcoholic beverages, and pets are strictly prohibited.

“Friends of the Smokies” Needs Your Help

The “Friends of the Smokies” requests your help in securing grant money that will aid in saving 19 historic buildings in the Elkmont area. An on-line poll, called Save Our Sites, is being sponsored by Tourism Cares. Participants can vote for their favorite among the seven sites listed.
The Tourism Cares organization seeks to preserve natural and historic areas that are tourist destinations. The amount the grant is unknown and will be determined by donations given to the effort on the Save Our Sites web site.
Voting is free; you are not required to make a donation. Cast your vote to help Elkmont and The Great Smoky Mountains.

Outdoor Recreation in the Smokies

The Knoxville News has been running articles through out the year on The Great Smoky Mountains National Park celebrating its 75th Anniversary. The newest articles feature outdoor activities in the park.

·    Take a hike, but there’s more to explore
·    Brook Trout Luring Fisherman
·    Putting Up Camp
·    Everett hooked on hiking Smokies
·    ‘Idyllic’ Elkmont passing into the shadows
·    Survey shows scenic driving is most popular

Elkmont Historic District Restoration Plans

The Elkmont Historic District Final Environmental Impact Statement and General Management Plan Amendment has been published in the Federal Register. The plan outlines the park’s plan for the vacant structures at Elkmont.

The Elkmont Historic District contains 74 vacant structures built in the early 1900s as a logging camp that was turned into a summer resort community prior to the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in 1934.

The plan proposes to preserve 18 cabins plus the Appalachian Clubhouse. Plans call for the clubhouse to be made available for public rental for day-use events after restoration. The remaining structures will be documented and then removed.