Townsend, TN bills itself as “The Peaceful Side of the Smoky Mountains”. And true to its name, it does have a much slower and easier pace than its neighboring towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge TN. More important is its close proximity to Cades Cove. Townsend is the closest of the towns bordering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is the most visited part of the Park.
In fact, Townsend’s Tuckaleechee Cove is rich in Appalachian history and heritage. Here the Little River gently descends from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park into this quiet community, and was a natural settlement area that has attracted and served as home to pioneers for hundreds of years. In fact, archaeological digs in the Townsend area have recently uncovered evidence of settlers dating back thousands of years. As early as the 1700’s, white settlers settled the areas of Townsend and nearby Cades Cove. Today, several museums and historic sites keep us connected with the past.
In the early 1900’s, the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company ruled the area when they logged thousands of acres until 1928, when locals fostered the idea for creating a national park. The railroad museum that exists here today contains hundreds of photographs, well-restored railroad equipment and entertaining exhibits to interest the traveler. True railroad enthusiasts can enjoy viewing the preserved locomotives and logging equipment. For more info, contact the Townsend Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum at 865-448-3060.
From Townsend, you are only 25 minutes to Dollywood and Pigeon Forge TN, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville. Start your visit at the Townsend Visitors Center. Call 865-448-6134 or 1-800-525-6834.