Nothing’s spookier than a good ghost town. There’s something about seeing the architectural remains of people long dead and a town long abandoned that sparks a measure of interest (and trepidation).
You may typically think of ghost towns as being a relic of the old west, but there are a few rattling around the southern United States, as well. One of the more prolific deceased cities is right here in Tennessee’s corner of the Smoky Mountains.
Its name is Elkmont.
Early History of Elkmont
From pioneers to loggers to resort hunters, Elkmont was many different things in its prolific lifetime. Originally inhabited by the First Peoples, Appalachian pioneers quickly stole for themselves the land that would later be called Elkmont in the late 1700’s. Thus, construction began on the town of Elkmont.
Several buildings from this pioneer period are actually still standing today.
Logging in Elkmont
Next came the era of dams and logging operations. Elkmont soon became the basecamp for multiple logging settlements scattered throughout the area. This logging heyday continued for several decades until the early 20th century, when a large portion of the land was sold to the Great Smoky Mountains Park Commission which saw the area as a highly desirable tourist attraction.
A Smoky Mountain Resort Town
The logging encampments were built over. Hotels and resort cottages started to spring up. The area was so beautiful that resort construction boomed as people flocked to visit the area. Many people bought cottages.
The timeline of Elkmont is not exactly linear, and much of each of these eras overlap. For example, the boom to buy resort cottages was happening while logging was still the town’s main operation. As soon as the proposal for a national park entered the picture, tensions between the different factions of Elkmont were running very high.
The last resident officially left Elkmont in 2001, though the town was basically abandoned long before that. The former clubhouses ceased operations and most of the cottage owners had long since sold their properties to the government as Tennessee moved to create a national park in the area.
Yet Elkmont was saved from the state’s original plan of demolition, and many of the old, abandoned cottages are still there, along with the eerily empty hotel that was once so vibrant. If you’re curious (and brave enough) you may just have to go see this 19th-century ghost town for yourself.
Cabins Near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
With over 500,000 acres for you and your family to explore, the Smoky Mountains are a diverse natural wonder. In addition to its breathtaking scenery, there are several historical sites to see including Elkmont. If you're visiting the Smoky Mountains, the perfect place to stay is in a breathtaking cabin located near the national park.