How Far is Townsend From Pigeon Forge?

You want to visit the Great Smoky Mountains, however, you are looking for a place with more a small town feel. Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are great for during the day, but, at night, you look forward to the quiet of the nature and woods surrounding you. However, you don’t want to be completely secluded in the woods somewhere in the Smoky Mountains. That is what it is great about Townsend — it gets you away from the hustle and bustle of the bigger cities while keeping you close to all the amazing amenities of the Pigeon Forge area. But the big question is, “how far is Townsend from Pigeon Forge?” Continue reading “How Far is Townsend From Pigeon Forge?”

What to Expect From the Townsend TN Weather

Knowing the weather is pretty important when it comes to planning a vacation. Not only does this give you an idea of what to expect in terms of day to day experiences, it also helps you get an understanding of what to pack. That is why we have put together a brief breakdown of all four seasons of Townsend TN weather. Continue reading “What to Expect From the Townsend TN Weather”

The Best Townsend Map to Get You Around Town

Exploring all the fun and exciting things to do in Townsend, TN, has never been easier! All you have to do is follow our Townsend map and you will be well on your way to discovering your new favorite attraction, museum or restaurant in the area! Continue reading “The Best Townsend Map to Get You Around Town”

Townsend TN Info., History

Officially, 1921 was the year that Townsend received its charter by the state of Tennessee. Officials with the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company played a large part in the founding of Townsend at the time. They felt that a collective voice representing the residents of the area would benefit everyone involved.

The City of Townsend has no property tax.

The main source of revenue is the state sales tax collected by city businesses. Some of the other sources of revenue to the City are: in lieu of taxes, franchise taxes, beer taxes, and road taxes.

The City provides services to the people. Some are police protection; street maintenance; street lighting; fire protection through paid subscriptions for City residents to the Townsend Volunteer Fire Department; planning; zoning and recreation.

The City of Townsend holds to the commission form of government. The Commission is made up of 5 commissioners. The five commissioners are elected to 4 year terms. Seats are staggered so 3 are elected and then two years later 2 are elected.

The 5 elected commissioners then elect one of their number to be Mayor. The Mayor serves for two years. In the same manner the elected Commissioners then elect one of their number to serve their City in the capacity of Vice-Mayor.

The Current commission is made up of the following elected public officials:
– Mayor: Michael Talley
– Vice-Mayor: Becky Headrick
– Commissioner: Ron Palewski
– Commissioner: Jackie Suttles
– Commissioner: David Wietlisbach

Kenneth Myers was appointed as the City Council Representative liason to the Townsend Alumni Association as they work toward restoration of the old high school building, which is now being used as the Townsend City Office, Townsend Police Headquarters, and Alumni Association meeting facility.

The City of Townsend holds it regular monthly meeting the 3rd Tuesday of every month. Sometimes that has to change for reasons not predicted by the staff and Commission so please check the local paper to see if we have had to re-schedule a meeting.

The City of Townsend employs a full-time recorder, part-time building inspector, a full-time maintenance person, a full time police chief and three police officers.

Office hours are Monday-Thursday: 8:30 am to 4:00 pm and Friday: 8:30 am to 2:00 pm.

If you would like to speak with someone about the city, a new permit, or any issue pertaining to our fine city please call 865-448-6886.

The City of Townsend also has a Municipal Planning Commission that meets the second Thursday of every month at the City office. These folks have the responsibility to follow the guidelines of the Zoning and Sub-division laws of the City and to review and approve site plans and sub divisions.

The Members of the Planning Commission are : Chairman Sandy Headrick, Vice Chairman Jo Anne Funk, Secretary Steve Fillmore, Mayor Mike Talley, Commissioner David Wietlisbach, Alicia McClary, and Chester Richardson.

If you would be interested in volunteering to serve on the Planning Commission please contact the Mayor.

Please direct any comments to P.O. Box 307, Townsend, TN 37882.

National Park to Close Some Services in 2013

smokymountaincamping

Unfortunately, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced recently that three major campgrounds will remain closed this year due to budget cuts by the federal government.

Not only that, park officials reported that one horse camp and two picnic areas will not open as well. Other facilities will open later than normal, park officials say. The delayed openings are a direct result of staffing and hiring limitations that impacted the park’s ability to conduct preseason preparation work on its facilities, park officials said in a release Tuesday.

Facilities to remain closed in 2013 include the Look Rock Campground and Picnic Area and the Abrams Creek Campground in Tennessee, and the Balsam Mountain Campground and Picnic Area (including the associated Heintooga Ridge and Balsam Mountain Roads) and the Tow String Horse Camp in North Carolina.

Under the renewed schedule, the park’s plans for facility and area openings are:

Park Road Openings – Round Bottom/Straight Fork Road will open April 1; Parsons Branch and Rich Mountain Road will both open on April 5; Roaring Fork Nature Trail and Little Greenbrier are set to open April 1. Heintooga Ridge and Balsam Mountain Roads will be closed for the season.

Clingmans Dome Road is open, but will officially open for the summer season on March 29.

Visitor Center Hours – The three visitor centers are open daily and the operating hours are as follows: Sugarlands Visitor Center, near Gatlinburg, TN, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Cades Cove Visitor Center, near Townsend, TN, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and the Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, NC, hours will be 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Backcountry Office – The Backcountry Office located at the Sugarlands Visitor Center, near Gatlinburg, TN, is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Backcountry reservations and permits can be obtained online at www.smokiespermits.nps.gov or by calling 865-436-1297.

To make reservations at the five campgrounds, and all group campsites, horse camps, and picnic shelters, visitors can go to www.Recreation.gov or, alternatively, book reservations by calling 877-444-6777.

Camping – Starting April 12, all Smoky Mountain campgrounds will open on a staggered schedule. For the five campgrounds on Recreation.gov, reservations are required at Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont for the period from May 15-October 31; at Cataloochee Campground sites must be reserved; and Cosby Campground, there is a limited number of reserved sites available. Camping fees range from $14 to $23 per site/night.

Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont campgrounds do provide campers with an opportunity to camp in “generator free” campsites. These sections can be reserved through Recreation.gov. Group Camping will be available through the website at Big Creek, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, Cades Cove, and Smokemont. The cost for group camping ranges from $26 to $65 per site/night.

Horse Camps at Anthony Creek, Cataloochee, and Round Bottom will open April 1 and at Big Creek on April 12. Tow Sting will be closed for the season. Reservations are only available through Recreation.gov. The horse site fees are $20 at all horse camps except for Big Creek where it is $25.

Campground Schedule

North Carolina:

Balsam Mountain – Closed for the Season

Big Creek – $14/site, Opens April 12

Cataloochee – $20/site

Deep Creek – $17/site, Opens April 12

Smokemont – $17/site off-season, $20 mid-May-October 31

Tennessee:

Abrams Creek – Closed for the Season

Cades Cove – $17/site off-season, $20 mid-May-October 31

Cosby – $14/site, Opens April 12

Elkmont – $17/site off-season, $20 mid-May-October 31

Look Rock – Closed for the Season

Cades Cove’s Missionary Baptist Church

cadescovemissionarybaptistBaptists first made their mark in Cades Cove in 1825 when John and Lucretia Oliver organized a branch of the Miller’s Cove Baptist Church in the cove. In those days it was an independent entity.  Many of the first Baptist churches in the area would eventually split from one another over issues regarding missionary work and other practices.

Baptists at the time Cades Cove and the Smokies was settled were divided into a few groups: church members who supported Sunday schools, the practices of missionary work and temperance societies, and those that didn’t support any of those initiatives. To some there just wasn’t that Biblical text that called for such things in worldly society. When these issues came about, a number of Cades Cove Baptists, including pastor Johnson Adams, were dismissed from the original Baptist church affiliation due to their beliefs.

On May 15, 1841, Adams and other disenfranchised Smokies pioneers banded together and established the Cades Cove Missionary Baptist Church. The start was rocky. They had no meeting house and had to meet in individual homes. Sometimes they made arrangements to meet at the Primitive Baptist or Methodist church buildings. Also, in the Smokies there was much confusion over the Civil War. During the Civil War and reconstruction, the Missionary Baptists didn’t meet for long periods of time. After the war however, they had a particularly successful revival and were able to erect their own church building in the Cades Cove area of the Smoky Mountains. Their church was constructed on Hyatt Hill in 1894.

Over the years, the church roll would grow from 40 to over 100 members, prompting the construction of a new building in 1915.  This building is the one visitors to Cades Cove can still see today.

Look Rock

It’s not hard to see why people make Look Rock a destination when they come to the Smoky Mountains. Look Rock occurred naturally but doubles as an observation ledge that overlooks the national park. It also boasts 360 degree panoramic views of the Smokies.

Located on the Foothills Parkway between Townsend and Maryville, TN, it’s the highest point along the frequently traveled parkway. Visitors can also find a campground and a picnic area at Look Rock which is maintained by the National Park Service. So, when you’re hiking to Look Rock, definitely remember to pack a lunch, then stop and enjoy a picnic with your group.

About the Look Rock Observation Tower

The observation tower at Look Rock is open to the public and is quite a sight if you haven’t hiked up the tower before. Talk about a bird’s eye view! It’s a half mile hike to the tower. To put it clearly, you can see up to 40 miles from the tower on a clear day. Though I’m sure you can imagine the beauty for yourself, keep in mind that some days are hazy, so the view is not as clear. Still, it’s one of the best you’ll find of the national park.

Just a quick note, the railing going up and on the tower is low, so if children are in your group, please make sure they are careful and make a point to watch out for them. The other side of the Look Rock parking lot has another observation area with great, picturesque views, just not the 360 degree panoramic views like you’ll find on the tower.

Sorghum Mill in Cades Cove

There is a popular photograph of the Gregg-Cable house in Cades Cove taken from across a field of the house, showing it at an angle, the fence that surrounded it, as well as a few landmarks that stood outside the property. One of those landmarks is a Sorghum Mill – a very important piece in the history of Cades Cove.

For sweetener in food and drink, Great Smoky Mountain settlers used such home-made products as maple syrup, honey and maple sugar. They also used a dark, sweet syrup called molasses. Added to biscuits or corn bread with a little butter and you had a mountain delicacy that hard to beat.

In Cades Cove, molasses was made by way of a sorghum mill like the one found near the Gregg-Cable house. From its beginnings as sorghum cane, Molasses are produced by stripping the leaves off the sorghum cane, then feeding them between the rollers of the sorghum mill.

A mule, horse, or an ox would walk in circles, attached by a harness to the long poles of the mill. This continuous walking would keep the rollers turning which pulled the stalks further into the mill where the sorghum juice was squeezed out of the stalks. The juice was then collected and subsequently boiled down in an outdoor furnace until it was thick and dark. Molasses could be used as a sweetener in a variety of ways. Molasses can be purchased about the middle of September into October at the Cades Cove visitors center.

The sorghum mill is an interesting contrast to the Cable Mill. The farmer had two energy sources: water power and animal power. One was strong but stationary; the other portable but relatively weak. Both served well into this century on mountain farms.

Cades Cove Blacksmith Shop

During the years when people actually called Cades Cove home, before its designation as a national park, no person was more revered or needed than the blacksmith. Some say, in those days, a blacksmith was as important if not more so than a doctor.

In those days, horses were THE mode of transportation, and in some cases powered farming equipment. A blacksmith’s abilities were needed at some point or another by every farmer in the Smokies. When James V. Cable, son of John P. Cable, inherited his father’s mill and farm, he took it upon himself to teach himself the trade of a blacksmith. Maybe it was the numerous people who brought him grain and logs to be milled that planted the idea in his head. Grains and logs were milled by way of wagons drawn by horses and mules. Each required horseshoes. At the same time as the grains and logs were being milled, most customers wanted their animals shod. It was way more convenient than traveling somewhere else. The metal shoes worn by mules and horses, on average, needed pulled and reset every 8 or so weeks. Blacksmiths were in constant need to carry our these tasks.

In order to do this, blacksmith cut the nail ends off and then pulled the shoes right off the mule or horse. The hoofs were then trimmed down like fingernails. Finally, the old shoes could either be reset or brand new shoes could be made and re-shod. The process called for the metal to be heated until it was bright hot and molded into a horseshoe.

But it wasn’t just horses that needed such things as new shoes, blacksmiths in the Smokies crafted metal to be used in the home, on the farm and in the light power industry. The list of items made by blacksmiths could fill up page after page. Things like adzes, axes, hinges, bolts, plows, nails, hammers, chains, hoes, bits, broadaxes, hooks, kitchen knives and drawknives. Cades Cove blacksmiths were certainly welcome and well respected for their skills and paid in everything from labor to crops to cash money.

Today, the James Cable’s Cades Cove blacksmith shop still stands and is a monument to a profession that had as much to do with the lives of those early Cades Cove settlers as any crop or natural resource produced in the area.

Cades Cove’s Henry Whitehead Place

Cades Cove’s Henry Whitehead Place is located near the Chestnut Flats part of the cove. Constructed between 1895-1896, the cabin was built by Matilda “Aunt Tildy” Shields and her second husband, Henry Whitehead.

Matilda and her young son were abandoned by her husband. Though rare, it did happen in those days, even in Cades Cove. It was Matilda’s brothers who took it upon themselves to build a small cabin for her in the aftermath. Also included were a fireplace and chimney. So as you can see, it wasn’t an overnight job, it took some time. But as it were, it had to be built quick and its logs reflect the rough-hewn style – made with a felling axe, the stone chimney made of rubble.

In the coming years though, fortune would shine its light again on Matilda when she met the widower Henry Whitehead and re-married. It was Whitehead who built her one of the nicest log homes in Cades Cove, replacing the one her brothers had built. It was so nice for the time that it had a brick chimney, unheard of in Cades Cove then. Bricks had to be made by the individual in those days and were considered quite the luxury. To do this, settlers took a clump of clay soil, dug it out and then filled the hole with water. The surrounding clay soil was then scrapped and stirred with a hoe until thick and smooth. Then the wet clay was put into molds where the bricks were dried. Afterwards the bricks were fired to make them durable.

Aa for the rest of the Whitehead’s cabin, it was constructed of square shaped logs that were smoothly finished, at least the portion facing the inside of the cabin. The cabin looked a lot like the frame homes which were soon to become fashionable when the first sawmills came to Cades Cove. That’s how nice it was for its time.

The cabin could also really hold in the warmth as square logs were well insulated due to each log’s four inch width. There was virtually no space between the logs either. The Henry and Matilda Whitehead place is the only square-sawed log home to remain in Cades Cove as well as the only one left in the entire Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It is considered a transition house from the early Cades Cove cabins to the modern frame homes that later were popular in Cades Cove.