Elkmont Bridge
December 15, 2021

Did you know there is a secret ghost town in the Smoky Mountains? In what used to be one of the most popular places in the Smokies, Elkmont is now considered to be more of a hidden gem location. If you have never been, you definitely want to add it to your bucket list of places to visit because there are plenty of exciting things to see there. Here is everything you need to know about Elkmont TN in the Smoky Mountains:

Early History

This area of the Smoky Mountains was first settled in the 1840s, but was known by the name Little River. During its early life, the settlers did their best to live off the land and survive. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that the first major business came into the area. In 1901, Colonel Wilson Townsend purchased 86,000 acres of land and formed the Little River Lumber Company. You may be wondering how the lumber was transported over that big of an area before there was a major transportation service available. The answer is that Colonel Townsend built a railroad that connected the logging site to his own sawmill. Over time, the railroad was used as a vacation destination for wealthy people around East Tennessee.

The Beginning of a Ghost Town

remnants of Elkmont

With all the activity that was taking place in Elmont TN in the early part of the 1900s, it is hard to believe that it was practically a ghost town just a few years later. However, once the national park was established in 1934, the National Park Service began purchasing the land that was owned by the lumber company. Over the next few years, the owners of the cottages were also asked to sell their land. While some hesitated at first, they were given life-time leases on the properties.

The Aftermath

Once the National Park Service purchased a majority of the land, there were over 70 buildings that now stood empty. Once the buildings started to break down, there was just an eerie aftermath of fallen buildings and ashes. That is where the ghost town name came to be. In 1994, Elkmont earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, and restoration of some of the buildings have now begun.

Elkmont Today

Elkmont cabin

As you probably know, the Elkmont area is home to one of the most popular campgrounds in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Elkmont Campground was established in the 1850s, and it has become one of the busiest campgrounds in the area. There are over 200 sites, a campground store, and much more! Not far from the campground, you can still hike to see some of the remnants of the ghost town.

Now that you know all about the history of Elkmont TN, you can start planning your trip to see this hidden gem in the Smoky Mountains. Be sure to check out some of the other popular places inside the national park to visit while you are here! We hope to see you soon!