On February 9th of 2017 Adventures United filmed the Ghost Town of Elkmont. Our reason for filming was due to demolition plans to demolish 55 of the historic buildings set to start in March of 2017. When we arrived we were surprised to find how many Dilapidated Cabins with stone fireplaces there were as we walked through the woods. Once we entered these cabins we got a melancholy feeling for the Homes they once were. You can almost imagine the fire roaring, people laughing and having a good time with their families. We hoped by filming these cabins we could help capture the spirit that once inhabited this town, and inspire others to visit here.
Watch our Video below or Check out our Youtube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQD-Y6zUgIxW1-NIDTj0Wig
To read more keep scrolling...
Elkmont is a region situated in the upper Little River Valley deep in the Great Smoky Mountains of Sevier County, in the U.S. state of Tennessee. Throughout its history, the valley has been home to a pioneer Appalachian community, a logging town, and a resort community. Today, Elkmont is home to a large campground, ranger station, and historic district maintained by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Little River Lumber Company established the town of Elkmont in 1908 as a base for its logging operations in the upper Little River and Jakes Creek areas. By 1910, the company began selling plots of land to hunting and fishing enthusiasts from Knoxville, who established the "Appalachian Club" just south of the logging town. In 1912, a resort hotel, the Wonderland Park Hotel, was constructed on a hill overlooking Elkmont. A group of Knoxville businessmen purchased the Wonderland in 1919 and established the "Wonderland Club." Over the next two decades, the Appalachian Club and Wonderland Club evolved into elite vacation areas where East Tennessee's wealthy could gather and socialize.
Upon the creation of the national park in the 1930s, most of Elkmont's cottage owners were given lifetime leases. These were converted to 20-year leases in 1952, and renewed in 1972. The National Park Service refused to renew the leases in 1992, and under the park's general management plan, the hotel and cottages were to be removed. In 1994, however, the Wonderland Hotel and several dozen of the Elkmont cottages were listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Elkmont Historic District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, sparking a 15-year debate over the fate of the historic structures. In 2009, the National Park Service announced plans to restore the Appalachian Clubhouse and 18 cottages and outbuildings in the Appalachian Club area (which were older and more historically significant) and remove all other structures, including the Wonderland Annex (the main hotel had collapsed in 2005).
The first known permanent residents in what is now Elkmont settled along Jakes Creek in the 1840s. The creek's namesake, Jacob Hauser (c. 1791-1870), was probably the first to arrive. He was followed shortly thereafter by the family of David Ownby (1816-1889), who came to the area to search for gold. The small community that developed in the valley was known simply as "Little River". Like most Appalachian communities, the residents of Little River developed a subsistence agricultural economy. Most residents grew corn and apples and kept bees for honey. Several gristmills arose along Jakes Creek.
Only two structures remain from the pioneer period in Elkmont— the Avent cabin (constructed c. 1850) and the Levi Trentham cabin (constructed c. 1830). Originally built by the Ownby family, the Avent cabin was sold in 1918 to the family of noted Nashville artist Mayna Avent, who used it as an art studio until 1940. The Levi Trentham cabin was originally located in the upper reaches of Jakes Creek, and moved to the Appalachian Club's Daisy Town section in 1932 for use as a guest house.
Lem Ownby, David Ownby's legendary grandson, was born near Jakes Creek in 1889. In 1908, Ownby and his father built a cabin about a mile or so above the confluence of Jakes Creek and Little River where Ownby lived for the rest of his life. Ownby obtained a lifetime lease when the national park was established, and for several decades afterward sold honey to hikers. Among those who paid Ownby a visit were Tennessee governor (and later U.S. senator) Lamar Alexander and U.S. Supreme Court justices Harry Blackmun and Potter Stewart. The Justices were visiting a prominent Knoxville lawyer, Foster Arnett, who wanted to introduce them to a real mountain man. Foster led the two Justices up the trail to meet Lem only to discover Lem would not meet the two men. When Foster knocked on Lem's door and announced that he had two Supreme Court Justices outside who wanted to meet him, Lem simply replied that they were not welcome to come in the cabin. Foster was very embarrassed while the two Justices folded over laughing. The two Justices loved that Lem had refused to meet them because he was the one person who would tell them no, something they seldom found. Reportedly the story was one shared for years among the Justices on the Supreme Court. Ownby died in 1984, the last of the park's lifetime lessees outside of Cades Cove.
In the 1880s, Knoxville businessman John L. English began a small-scale logging project along Jakes Creek. To transport the logs to a sawmill on the outskirts of Knoxville, English constructed a series of splash dams along Little River. When the logs were ready to be moved, the floodgates of these dams were opened and the rushing torrent carried the logs downstream. While English managed a moderate profit, his venture had folded by 1900, possibly because of a disastrous flood along Little River in 1899.