The Abandoned Cabins of the Elkmont Region of The Great Smokey Mountains

The abandoned cabins can be found right on Jakes Creek Road B and on the Little River Trail and dispersed through-out the entire Elkmont Region of the Upper Little River Valley in The Great Smokey Mountains National Park, of Sevier County, Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

abandoned cabin

The first permanent settlers appeared around the 1840’s and settled along Jake’s Creek. Only 2 of those cabins remain today, Avent cabin and Levi Trentham cabin (these have been preserved). By the 1880’s John English, a logger, began his industry in the area. Due to flooding, English folded the company in 1900, but in 1901 Colonel Wilson Townsend picked up the endeavor. Elkmont began as a temporary logging camp, and resembled a depression-era shanty town. It had a transient hotel, post office, a commissary, maintenance sheds, and shacks. Thus Elkmont started as the base of operations for the Little River Lumber Company in 1908. By 1910 the company began selling plots of land to people from Knoxville who enjoyed the mountainous areas (they then started the Appalachian Club just a bit south of Elkmont). By 1912, the resort Wonderland Park Hotel had been built. The hotel had 50 rooms and a giant balcony overlooking the valley and the mountains. Soon, the area evolved into a private getaway for Knoxville’s elite. By 1919, several people who had been rejected into joining the Appalachian Club and getaway bought the Wonderland Hotel and started the Wonderland Club, erecting cottages along the way. In 1920 the idea floated up about making the area into a National Park. Little River Logging Company concluded business in the Elkmont area in 1925. Fearing a lawsuit from the residents in Elkmont, Wilson Townsend, in the secret dark of night, removed the railroad tracks leading to Elkmont. The residents were outraged, but Tennessee Governor Austin Peay, who owned a cottage here as well, had a road built where the railroad was. In 1926, Colonel Wilson Townsend sold 76,000 acres of land to the state of Tennessee making the first sale towards it becoming a National Park.

In 1982, the General Management Plan called for the demolition of all the propeties, to allow nature to take over. In 1994, special status was given to the Wonderland Hotel and a few of the cottages and they were listed under the National Register of Historic Places. However in 2005, the wonderland Hotel collapsed, and anything deemed historical was removed and the rest cleared away. All that remains now is the chimney. The Appalachian Clubhouse and 18 of the cottages are to be restored and preserved. This is wonderful but the remaining structures are to be documented and removed according to the 2009 Elkmont Historic District Environmental Impact Statement. Most are pre-1930’s with many being early 1900’s and some from the latter 1800’s.

Sadly, many of the structures are to be taken down with only kiosks of pictures and words telling the story of a beautiful place.

The current campsite resides on the former site of the Elkmont logging town.

Where are the abandoned cabins of Elkmont located? You can easily find these cabins with these coordinates. 35.652972,-83.581645.

Image 1 used under Creative Commons License Attribution Non Commercial No Derivs 2.0 Generic by Dave & Holly [Flickr/daveholly].
Image 2 is All Rights Reserved and is used with permission by Dan Troyka.

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