Friday, June 4, 2010

The Elkmont Community ~ Remnants of Long Ago

On our recent visit to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, many of the roads were closed in order to make improvements to them. The construction resulted in the closure of several popular park roads forcing us to explore less traveled areas of the park in depth. One of these places was Elkmont.
The Elmont Community was established in the early 1900's. It was the birthplace of the Little River Lumber Company, and with a lumber company came the need for railroads and trains to haul the lumber. The train became popular for travelers and so an observation deck and passenger cars were added. On weekends, wealthy travelers from Knoxville would ride the train to Townsend and transfer to Elkmont where there was abundant fishing and hunting. In 1910, a hunting and fishing club was established in Elkmont called 'The Appalachian Club.' It was joined by many of the prominent people from Knoxville. The club soon grew social in nature, as well, and women joined their spouses on weekend trips to this beautiful forest retreat in the mountains. Soon a hotel was built in addition to many summer cottages. By the early 1920's, Elkmont was the second largest town in Sevier County. The town was a peaceful summer haven until talk of a National Park began. Elkmont was located within the proposed park's boundaries.
In 1934, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was born. Since the public is not allowed to reside on National Park land an agreement had to be made. The US government offered the residents of Elkmont partial payment for their properties in exchange for lifetime leases. One by one the leases ran out and the houses became vacant. By 2001, all of the cabins were vacant and many are still standing.
The "ghost town" of Elkmont gave us a change of pace from photographing the layered mountains, waterfalls and spring flowers, and so we spent a full day there taking on the challenge of capturing the crumbling structures from another era. A new gallery of images from Elkmont has recently been posted on my web site which you can visit by clicking here.

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