Knoxville to Townsend 33 miles – The above picture taken on the Foothills Parkway at Townsend
Hwy 321/Lamar Alexander Parkway is the main road through Townsend. On each side of the road is a paved walking & bike trail it runs the length of the town, about 10 miles.
In 1900, Colonel W.B. Townsend purchased a large parcel of land and established a logging operation in what is now The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He built a band saw mill in Tuckaleechee Cove. The town that was formed in the vicinity of the Little River Lumber Company was named Townsend.
Little River Lumber Company Museum – The Museum is housed in the former railroad depot. The Museum has restored trains with plaques that describes the history. They also have photos, tools and artifacts. There is a replica of the Elkmont Post Office it is now a gift shop. www.littleriverrailroad.org
A historical marker is in front of the Museum it reads: This is the former site of the Little River Lumber Company mill complex. Founded in 1901 by Col. W.B. Townsend for whom this community is named, the company was one of the largest commercial lumber operations in the Smokies from 1901 to 1939. 7747 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway.
Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center – The Heritage Centers mission is to preserve the heritage and culture of the inhabitants of the Smoky Mountains, which includes Native Americans, pioneers and residents of the Appalachian communities. The Center has over 17,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibits. There are 2 cantilever barns, log cabin, a chapel, sawmill and a used still. There is a large collection of Native American artifacts. Also, furniture, tools and musical instruments used by the mountain region folks. 123 Cromwell Dr. www.gsmheritagecenter.org
Captain Dave’s Little River Artistry – from wonderful to weird, I liked the humor in some pieces and love the bears over his driveway. Laughed when I spotted the toilet bowl. 125 Wears Valley Rd.
There are several tubing businesses in Townsend. There is Tube Junction, Cowboy Tubing, River Rage Tubing, River Rat Tubing and Jake’s on the River. I was there in December so no tubing, but will go back in May when they re-open.
Smoky Mountains Visitor Center – 7906 E. Lamar Alexander Pkwy.
Tuckaleechee Caverns – 825 Cavern Road – Open March 15 to Nov 15.
According to legend, the Cherokee Indians knew of the Caverns and hid in them before the white man discovered them about 1850.
White Man Finds Caverns
The first white men began to settle in this area in the late 1700’s and the early 1800’s. Written reports tell of the discovery of the caverns by white man about the middle of the 19th century when sawmill workers watched water from a heavy rain pour into a sink hole in the area. The whole was filled with debris but one of the men found an opening in the rock and made his way to what is now the entrance of the caverns. The legend was taken from the website: www.tuckaleecheecaverns.com
Apple Valley Country Store & Café – Apple Valley is actually 3 stores. The Country Store has home and garden décor, fudge, jelly and souvenirs. The Café serves breakfast & lunch. Country Elegance Store has quilts, handbags, candles, lotions & jewelry. 7138 E. Lamar Alexander Pkwy.
Cades Cove Cellars – Open every day they have a complimentary wine tasting. They also have a gift shop with artwork, local pottery, jewelry, Sweetwater Valley cheeses and sausages. I do not care for sweet wine so I did not try the wine, but I enjoyed the store. 7126 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway.
“What wine goes with Captain Crunch”? George Carlin
The Foothills Parkway is 10 miles from Townsend toward Maryville. Look for the entrance on your left. This section of the Parkway is 18 miles long with 16 overlooks. One side looks toward the Mountains, the other side overlooks Maryville. There is a trail to a Tower overlook. The views from the Parkway are especially great in the fall. I usually turn around at the tower as the other end tees at the lake and it is nothing special.