late 1700's settlers arrived to find fertile soils, lush pastures and
rushing creeks ideal for farming, which was their primary livelihood. In
1908, the quiet, sleepy town would develop into a bustling village after
Colonel Wilson B. Townsend and a group of Pennsylvanians formed the Little
River Lumber Company.
a means of hauling the timber from the mountains to the mills, the
Little River Railroad was built, thus bringing the public to
nearby logging camps, like Elkmont. When the lumber company closed
its operations at Elkmont in 1926, the railroad tracks were
removed opening up roads like the Little River Road, which was
once the original rail bed of the Little River Railroad.
Soon the resort
community of Townsend had established general stores, churches, schools
and gas stations to accommodate the needs of people traveling through the
By the mid 1930's,
most of the land acquired by Colonel Townsend had been sold to the state
of Tennessee, who in turn donated it to the National Park Service. In
1934, the Great
Smoky Mountains National Park was established and Townsend wound up
sitting at the base of the parks northwest entrance.
became a major portal for visitors wanting to see the Smoky Mountains and Cades
Cove, however it remains a quaint community with absolutely gorgeous
scenery and an abundance of wildlife viewing opportunities.
accommodations include cabin and chalets, hotels and motels, campgrounds,
horse camps, luxury
resort lodges and bed and breakfast inns. From charming, rustic log cabins to
upscale, high-end bed and breakfasts, your vacation rental could
possibly be the best part of your trip!
find Townsend the embodiment of mountain life. Discover handmade arts, crafts, basket making demonstrations, wood working, including the famous
dulcimer shop, local artist's work, talented musicians and much, much more.
A must see is the Great Smoky
Mountain Heritage Center, offering the heritage and culture of
mountain people, Native Americans and transportation of the region.
will rejoice! Fishing,
whether it be along the Little River in Townsend or the Middle Prong
inside the Smoky Mountains, is one of the most popular activities. Take a
guided horseback ride
through Cades Cove, golf at the Laurel Valley Golf Course, go underground
and explore Tuckaleechee Caverns, tube the Little River, bicycle through
the mountain foothills or visit the Little River Railroad and Lumber
Company and view locomotives and exhibits about the logging history in the
and festivals are held throughout the Townsend area and are full of great
times, good fun and country fun! Come, stay a while, relax and see why we
are the "Peaceful Side of the Smokies".