Top 5 Most Exciting Things To Do in Townsend TN

Identifying itself as “The Peaceful Side of the Smokies,” Townsend prides itself on low-key charm and locally-owned restaurants, lodging and business that focus on the city’s special piece of the great outdoors and the fun to be enjoyed in it. Townsend holds the the least busy of the three main entrances to the national park. Because of the city’s laid-back way of life, it’s easy to find something fun and interesting to get into when you’re in Townsend.

Identifying itself as “The Peaceful Side of the Smokies,” Townsend prides itself on low-key charm and locally-owned restaurants, lodging and businesses that focus on the city’s special piece of the great outdoors and the fun to be enjoyed in it. Townsend holds the least busy main entrance to the national park.

Because of the city’s laid-back way of life, it’s easy to find something fun and interesting to do when you’re in Townsend. We’ve listed 5 of our top picks for things to do in Townsend TN: Continue reading “Top 5 Most Exciting Things To Do in Townsend TN”

Elijah Oliver Place

Cades Cove’s Elijah Oliver Place was home to one of the first lifelong residents of the cove. Elijah Oliver grew up, married, and spent his life in the confines of Cades Cove’s majestic beauty. Today, people can come and view his home, take in its surroundings, and imagine themselves growing up in simpler times.

Not only does the Elijah Oliver cabin still stand in Cades Cove, so does the smokehouse, corn crib, springhouse and barn that made up Oliver’s homestead in those years. As the most remote of all the Cades Cove homesteads, it provided for more privacy for this branch of the Oliver family. The son of John and Luraney Oliver – Cades Cove’s first settlers, Elijah was born in the original Cades Cove cabin in 1824. It was there that he grew into a young man, moved away, married, then came back and bought the property where the home still stands today.

Elijah Oliver life, like other residents of Cades Cove at the time, centered around God and religion, family and the Oliver’s neighbors. It was common in those times to take in a complete stranger whenever they came through the Cove, feed, and house them for a period of time. So well known were the Cades Cove hospitality practices that fishermen would come in knowing that the settlers would provide them with lodging free of charge. Many residents, including Oliver, even built a special room onto their house for strangers passing through Cades Cove who needed a place to stay. Elijah Oliver’s “strangers room,” built on his front porch, is a popular aspect of his home site.

It wasn’t until 1900 that some of the Cades Cove residents began to charge guests for room and board. When you sit back and think about the area as it is today with all the cabins, condos, and hotels that are found here, Elijah Oliver and many of his neighbors were ahead of the times when it came to hospitality and tourism.

2013 Townsend TN Spring Festival and Old Timers Day

This is Townsend’s week – the annual Spring Festival and Old Timers Day, May 3 and 4, 2013! It’s that time of year when bluegrass, clogging, arts and crafts, BBQ, storytelling, and wildflower walks, all come together in harmony and at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains in Townsend, Tennessee.

As always, the Townsend Spring Festival promises to be a weekend packed with events, and to everyone’s delight, great food. Check out the schedule of events including band lineup, food vendors, craft vendors, demonstrators, authors and other activities so that you don’t miss out on your favorite things that early May weekend.


Friday, May 3

3:20pm – ROCKY RIVER

Saturday, May 4



A.J.’s Concessions – Polish sausage, funnel cakes, bloomin’ onion, cheesecake, ribbon fries, Philly cheese steak, chicken tenders, hot wings, french fries, frozen dipt’ banana

Gary Gray Shaved Ice – New Orleans style shaved ice

Foothills Smokers/Marc Horton – Pulled pork BBQ, chicken, ribs, cole slaw, chips

Hearts and Hands – Baked Goods: Homemade cookies, cakes, pies-all donated, packaged

Toby’s Kettle Corn – Kettle corn, caramel apple slices, pork rinds, cotton candy

Karns Community Club – Homemade ice cream

Nana’s Kitchen – Pucker powder candy art

Crockett Creek Muscadine Juice

Nonnie’s Fried Pies

On Site Demonstrators
Blacksmithing – Hugh Bowie
Cornmeal Making – Ronald & Angel Fowler
Beekeeping – Tony & Vernell Holt
Blount County Beekeeping Association – Howard Kerr
White Oak Shingle Making – Sam White
Weaving – Cherokee finger – Charaity Hubbard
Sorghum Molasses – Mark & Sherry Guenther
Antique Weapons Display – David Daily

Exhibit Room
Rug Hooking – Carol McBride
Woodcarving – Lendel Abbott
Quilting – Maetta Conrad, Ila Mae Morton, Marcella Emrick
Charcoal & Pencil Artist – Andy England

Other Activities
Old Harp Singers – Saturday 3:30–5 p.m. in front of Center
Black Bear Education Center & Electric Vehicle Display – Bob Harris In front of Center
Model A Club – Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. in front of Center
Appalachian Bear Rescue – Kathy Sherrard
Appalachian Church Replica and children’s story telling – Sponsored by CHilhowee ARea Ministries
Children’s Area/Games – Days Gone By Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Back Field
Cades Cove Preservation – Meet descendants of Cades Cove
Picking throughout the Grounds – Dedicated tents for Jammer’s
Antique Tractors

Authors: Friday & Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Dr. Lin Stepp – “Second Hand Rose”
Roy Oliver – “The Last Man From Tremont”

Craft Vendors
Appalachian Creations — Danielle Barton
Barry Spruce Photography — Barry Spruce
Baskets & Bowls — Sally Spista
Bearly Baskets — Linda Smith
Bill’s Log Cabin Lamps — Bill Fannin
Bowls & Quilts — Leona & Dalton Jones
Carol Erikson Photography — Carol Erikson
Clay, Wood, Paper — Susan Coe, JoLynn Matthews
Common Sense Candles — Angela Casavant
Martha Crow
Danny Young Photography — Danny Young
Debbie Toney Art — Debbie Toney
Freaks, Inc. — Parker Pressnell, Stacie Huckabe
Greystone Arts — Ken Kant
In The Stix Studio — Sandra Byrne
In The Wild — Jamie Palo and Amber Prakshot
Judy’s Beaded Beauties — Judy Fritts
Lodge Cast Iron — James Lamphier
Love Lies Beading — Renee Parrott
Deborah Lundgren
Maxine Falls Art — Maxine Falls
Mountain Arts — Kevin Reed
Mountain Works — Frankie & Leo Edwards
Natural Affinity Soap — Denisea Mann
Oils by Sharon — Sharon Schoenfeld
Perry’s Woodcraft — Herbert A. Perry
Perspective Unique Photography — Sheila Floyd
Rebecca Hiatt Photography — Rebecca & Jeffrey Hiatt
Rick Kratz Photography — Rick Kratz
Rockytopbob Wood Designs — Robert Law
Sarah B. Weber Fine Art — Sarah Weber
Jean Shamblin
Sing’s Wood Crafts — Steve Sing
T.H.E. Pearl Pagoda — Hui Malkowski
The Amber Lady — Sandra Jaqua
TheLicensePlateMan — Steve Russell
Thomas Pottery Gallery — Larry & Caroline Thomas
Unique & Classy Jewelry — Bobbie Finger
Village Artworks — Corinne Coley
Wood-N-Strings Dulcimer Shop — Mike Clemmer
WoodsbyTom — Tom Sciple

Old Timers Day, Cades Cove
Celebrate the heritage and culture of Cades Cove with the Cades Cove Preservation Association at Old Timers Day at the Cable Mill visitors center. Former residents will speak of growing up and living in this historic valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park while musicians play historic mountain music around the lawn at the Mill area. The CCPA will also have historic exhibits and photographs of homesteads that populated the valley.

Take a FREE Townsend Shuttle

Buses, donated from the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, will run from the Heritage Center to Trillium Cove to Little River Railroad Museum to the Townsend Visitors Center and back to the Heritage Center. One bus will run from 10:30 am to 6 pm and a second from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm, both days. Two buses will be in operation from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm each day. The last bus will leave the Townsend Visitor Center at 6 pm and return to the Heritage Center, on both Friday and Saturday.

The Spring Heritage Festival and Old Timer’s Day is the first of a few Heritage Days held each year in Townsend, TN. For a complete list of goings-on in Townsend, check out the calendar of events, as well as Townsend cabins if you’re gonna be here for the entire weekend.

Cantilever Barn in Cades Cove

Another feature of the Cable Mill display of Cades Cove is the preserved Cantilever barn, a design in which the upper story was larger than its base. This design allowed animals which were normally outside to stand underneath the over hang in order to get out of the sun or rain. The farm animals resting under the eaves in Cades Cove would have included pigs, hogs, chickens, goats, and in wintertime, cattle.

In summer cove farmer’s cattled were kept on the grassy balds of the Great Smoky Mountains. Gregory’s Bald is one still in existence today and was named for one of the men who made their living looking after the cattle in the summertime. Also, farm equipment could be kept dry if placed under the large eaves of the cantilevered barn as there were no posts or walls to get in the way.

“Col. Hamp” Tipton, who served in the Mexican War, had the Tipton Place built in the early 1870s. The cantilever barn, a replica of an earlier one in the same place, stands on the other side of the road from the house.

Cantilever barns usually have two log cribs, each measuring about twelve feet by eighteen feet and separated by a fourteen- to sixteen-foot driveway. The topmost logs of each crib extend eight to ten feet out to the barn’s sides, becoming the cantilevered primary supports for a whole series of long secondary cantilevers which run from front to back across the entire length of the barn. A heavy timber frame, aligned over the corners of the cribs and the outer ends of the cantilevers, supports eave beams and heavy purlins, which are the major structural features of the loft. Most barns have a gable roof. Lofts were originally used for storing hay, loaded conveniently from wagons pulled into the driveway between the cribs. The cribs were livestock pens, while the sheltered area under the overhanging loft provided space for storing equipment and grooming animals.

Gregg-Cable House

The Gregg-Cable House, one of the great historical landmarks of the Smokies that can be found in the Cades Cove area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It just so happens to be the first frame house built in the area and a house that not only provided shelter for two families, but also a place of business.

A family business, like the one run out of Becky Cable’s home was usually a farm or store but could be some other enterprise. As soon as children were old enough to be able to help out on the farm or in the family store, their time in school usually came to an abrupt halt. School was secondary in those times to the family’s needs. It was said that even in Cades Cove girls worked in the fields in addition to their chores and duties in the home.

Becky Cable’s house is bears a wealth of history relevant to those times. Built in 1879 by Leason Gregg, it was the first frame house built in Cades Cove and served as a working business as well. The store goods were brought in by wagon from Maryville, Tn. The downstairs housed the store while Gregg and his family lived on the upper floors. People could come and trade goods for other products or just straight up buy what they needed there.

John Cable’s family – his daughter Rebecca, her brother Dan and his wife, eventually bought the land and house, and ran the store. It was converted to a boarding house eight years after that.

Cades Cove provided Becky Cable and her family with much of what they needed to survive including such heirlooms as lettuce, pole beans, turnips, beets and canned beans, peas and tomatoes, all of which flourished in the cove’s rich limestone basin. Chickens were raised, they cooked baked goods with their own eggs, and carrots and potatoes were stored in a root cellar.

The house was also used as a place to stockpile goods, like most homes during that time. The numerous Chestnut groves in Cades Cove were depleted every fall not only by bears but by families like the Cables who came to gather bushels of chestnuts both for their use and to sell. Becky Cable’s family also hunted wild game, picked and preserved blackberries, blueberries and raspberries, and raised their own hogs. Next to the house, they grew their own flower, spice, and herbs in a garden.

Becky Cable was one of Cades Cove’s first clothing designers too. Her family grew their own flax and cotton and raised sheep for wool and spun these in to thread which they wove into cloth, thus making their own clothing. There is a famous picture of Becky Cable sitting at her spinning wheel doing just that. Becky Cable did all this while providing for her family and others before passing away in Cades Cove at 96 years of age. The home bears her and the preceding family’s name still.

The John Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove

You can point to the John Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove as a lynchpin in the settlement of the Great Smoky Mountains area, especially Cades Cove and Townsend, Tn.

Pioneers looked to the area north of Cades Cove where the current-day Cades Cove Loop Road begins as the ideal location to settle down, farm the land, and raise a family. The Oliver cabin is located at a high point in the cove that was chosen due to its more solid foundation. It is recorded in the history books that John and his wife Lucretia were the first to settle in this part of the Smoky Mountains.

John Oliver and his family settled the area despite the lack of an Indian treaty allowing them access to the Smoky Mountain land, which was typical of most European immigrants who came to the region during that time. By deciding to just go ahead and settle the land without treaty caused its fair share of contention, especially between new the immigrants and the Native Americans that had called the mountains home for centuries. It’s a small miracle that Cherokee Indians actually helped the Olivers get through their first winter in Cades Cove. Coincidentally, a short year later the Calhoun Treaty would give whites settlers the right to settle the cove. In 1826 the Olivers purchased their piece of the cove.

Up until the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there were Oliver kin living in the Smoky Mountains.

The cabin itself is reminiscent of other European-style log homes of the era found throughout the eastern frontier in the mid-1850s. Gravity has come to lock and seal wood together over time. You’ll find that mud was used between the logs to protect the insides from the rain and wind. You’ll also notice the cabin’s small windows and doors if you ever visit Cades Cove. They conserved heat and helped the building stand strong and upright through the changing seasons.

One note, the Oliver’s original cabin actually stood 50 yards behind the cabin now identified as their first home place in Cades Cove. The cabin that stands in Cades Cove today is actually the honeymoon house which was built for their John’s son to use when he married.

John, who died in 1864, and his wife are buried in Cades Cove at the Primitive Baptist church which they helped to found.

Camp Wesley Woods

Growing up in the south, and it was probably that way above the Mason-Dixon line as well, most children have fond memories of spending part of their summer vacation at a church camp, day camp, or some kind of camp that got you away from home for a week, or even a few weeks. Camp Wesley Woods in Townsend still evokes memories for thousands of East Tennesseans who spent part of their childhood at the popular United Methodist Church-formed retreat.

Camp Wesley Woods has served East Tennessee for over 50 years through its summer camp, various outdoor education curriculum, and retreat ministry programs. Nestled among flowing mountain streams and dense forests just outside Townsend, TN and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Camp Wesley Woods is the perfect place to go to enjoy the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Children have come to love and look forward to the fun and adventure of Camp Wesley Woods’ spectacular summer camp programs. Wesley’s outdoor education program is an extension of a child’s school classroom and the lessons learned there. Those lessons brought to life through activities that get each child involved on a personal level. Camp Wesley Woods works in partnership with area churches and other various nonprofit groups to host meetings, retreats, and other events.

No matter what reason you decide to come to Camp Wesley Woods, you’ll always find the cornerstones that have made this such a special place – a focus on serving others, a commitment to excellence, and a passion for making a positive difference in people’s lives.

As always, summer camp at Camp Wesley Woods is a huge draw for local children. Wesley Woods offers a wide range of camp programs to meet the needs of campers of all ages and interests. They have programs for 1st graders through high school seniors, and Camp Wesley Woods also offers a special needs camp for ages 10-22. Each year campers are encouraged to explore their faith and grow in their education. At Wesley Woods, campers improve their social skills, learn to be more independent, and accept greater responsibility.

Camp Wesley Woods
329 Wesley Woods Road
Townsend, TN 37882
(865) 448-2246 or (865) 448-6556

Foothills Parkway

Oldest Unfinished Highway Project in Tennessee

If you have driven into Townsend from Maryville you have passed signs for the Foothills Parkway.  In case you didn’t know, the Foothills Parkway Project has been ongoing since 1944 when the construction project was approved by congress.  Though this National Park Service roadway has not been completed the parts of it that are completed provide wonderful views of the Smokies and connects Hwy 129 and Hwy 73 and connect I-40 with the Jones Cove Area in Cocke County.

With the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which opened in 1934, and the Blue Ridge Parkway, which got approved in the 1930s, the Smoky Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley area were joined.  The Blue Ridge Parkway however was going to end in Cherokee , NC and not make the final journey into the Tennessee side of the Smokies.  This meant that people would be able to make the beautiful drive through the Blue Ridge and end up on the North Carolina side of the Smokies but not make the connection to the new recreational areas in Tennessee.

To that end, Frank Maloney begin to press Congress to establish a parkway to connect the various parts of the Smokies in Tennessee.  In 1944, authorized the construction of the 71-mile Foothills Parkway that would run from US-129 in Blount County and connect to I-40 in Cocke County.  In the late 40s and early 50s – the Department of the Interior and the Tennessee Highway Department begin purchasing the rights to build the parkway.  Construction began during the 60s and though progress seemed to be clipping along, construction stalled during the 70s and this project has been underfunded since that point.  Though parts of the project have continued to be completed even during the 21st century, funding has been slow coming to this building project.  Being less then half way completed, some in the area wonder if they will ever get to see the Foothills Parkway completed.

Right now, the most complete section of the Foothills Parkway connects US 129 in Blount county to US 73 in Blount county.  In other words you can now go from Chilhowee Lake to the Walland area in Blount County.  The other end of this Parkway is also compete with a section that ruins from I-40 to the Jones Cove area in Cocke County.  It is the center part of the Parkway that remains incomplete.  In fact the area connecting Blount and Sevier County will require a number of bridges to complete and this has hurt its ability to be funded.  At times the section that is complete in Wears Valley is open to horseback riding and hiking but no car traffic.  With proper funding this road could take some of the stress off major thorough fares around the Smoky Mountains and allow for quicker travel between some of the major cities in the Smokies.  Until this project is completed we are left with two pieces of the whole project that do allow for some great views a two terrific driving experiences but do not connect the Tennessee Smoky Mountains as intended.

What do I need to Bring When I Go Tubing?

When you drive into the National Park from Townsend during the warm weather months, you are going to see people trudging along the side of the road carrying tubes.  People of every shape form and fashion will line the roads from the main traffic light in Townsend to the Wye just inside the boundaries of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  If this is your first time going to tubing, here are a few things you are going to want to remember and some things that you might want to bring with you.

Find a Good Tubing Company
– Tubing can be a very inexpensive day out in the open while you are visiting the Smokies.  There are several tubing companies in the town of Townsend alone.  The larger ones like the River Rat will offer all day tubing and shuttle service for one low price.  If you are not familiar with the concept of the shuttle service, they take you, your tube and the rest of your traveling companions to the river and drop you off upstream, near the Wye.  You then float downstream, get out of the river at one of their designated take-outs and they pick you up to take you back upstream for another run down the river.  They will do this as many times as you would like throughout the day until you have had your fill of tubing on the Little River.

Water Shoes – You can of course tube down the river barefoot but it will be a lot easier on your feet if you grab a pair of water shoes before you get in the river.  As you float you are going to hit spots that are shallow, you are going to find yourself climbing around on rocks and over tree branches.  This is a natural environment and every single trip down the river is going to be different.  Add to that the fact that you will have to climb out of the river and walk along the bank and then to the shuttle to get ready for your next trip down and you will find that water shoes are your best friend.  Plus, the extra purchase that water shoes give you on the slippery stones in the river is a huge benefit if you are trying to choral your children as they frolic in the water as well.

Sunscreen – Always remember the sunscreen.  Even though you will be in the river all day and there is plenty of tree cover along the river, it is very easy to get burned when you are outside in the majesty of the Smoky Mountains all day playing in the river and having a good time.  Apply the sunscreen and realize that as you get into and out of the water and into and out of your tube that you are going to rub your suncreen off.  REAPPLY, frequently!

Water Proof Bag – You can pick these up at big box stores, campground stores or try a good outfitters so that you have a better selection.  These bags are designed to hold whatever valuables you need while you are on the river.  Most of these bags seal with a set of rubber gaskets that fold against each other and they are completely waterproof.  This lets you take your phone, car keys and other items that you don’t want ot get wet with you without having to worry about leaving them in the car all day.

Try tubing.  You will be surprised at how relaxing and wonderful the experience can be when you are prepared, use a good tubing company and bring everything that you need when you start your day of tubing.

Brown Trout Fishing on the Little River

Best Sport fish in the Smokies

If you are looking for a different fishing adventure in the Smokies, look no further then the Little River in Townsend, TN.  The Little River is full of large, brown trout and they are ready to be caught!

The brown trout is not a native fish to the Smoky Mountains.  They were introduced into the area during the 1930s as a game fish to increase fishermen traveling to the area to fly fish.  And though the brown trout has not been good for the brook trout that were native to the area they are still a lot of fun to catch.  Brown in color, aggressive and fun to catch, the brown trout has thrived in the lower elevation waters of the Smoky Mountains.  They tend to grow a little bigger then the rainbow trout and they are just as much fun to catch.  The Little River is a perfect habitat – mildly rocky, quick water, a few rapids and the food is plentiful.

Where to Fish
If you are in Townsend wanting to fish the Little River during the summer, you have to watch for tubers.  Yes, there will be people wading, swimming and tubing in the Little River after the water gets warm.  But – the fish are dodging the tubers as well.  They are looking for more quiet places to spend their time, you need to do the same.  Look for those places that are between the more used waters.  In the case of the Little River , this means going to the spots after the tube take-outs and before the local swimming holes.  You have a good stretch of river that is not as used and ready for you to pull out as many trouts as the fishing regulations allow.  Of course the fact that the fish eat the food that the tubers drop in the water means that getting the brown trout to bite is easy.

If you are fishing the Little River during the spring, fall or winter, you are going to have an easier time finding a spot to fish.  Without the tubing going on, the fish expand their range to cover the whole length and width of the Little River.  Look for those areas directly downstream from the rapids – this is where the brown trout hangout.  If you work your way up stream, taking your time, you are bound to find some good fishing and a lot of fun.

What to Bring
You can either fish for brown trout with a fly rod or a spinning reel, the fish don’t care and they will bite as long as you have the right bait.  Now, if you are a bit of a traditionalist, then you can always find what flies the fish are biting on at a local outfitters but if you want something guaranteed to get a bite, I have another suggestion – corn & bread.  Yes, you read that right – corn & bread.  Get a can of corn and a loaf of bread.  The nibblets of corn fit easily on the hook and once you roll the bread into little balls they will stay on the hook. Brown trout eat corn and bread balls like they were going out of style.  Hook into a brown trout, reel him in and add to your Smoky Mountain story with a great catch and potentially a great meal.