Just about 20 miles west of Gatlinburg is the serene setting of Townsend, Tennessee. While not the hub of activity that her neighbor is, Townsend nonetheless is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. Consider taking a day out of your Gatlinburg vacation to explore these unique points of interest.
Known as “The Greatest Sight Under the Smokies” the Tuckaleechee Caverns are home to a crystal clear stream, fantastic cave formations, and beautiful waterfalls. First opened to the public in 1953, the cave now hosts roughly 50,000 visitors every year. Stop by to take the 1 mile underground tour where you’ll see awesome yet delicate stalactite and stalagmite formations and an incredible double waterfall.
Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum
Before Townsend became a tourist attraction, it was headquarters to the Little River Lumber Company founded by Col. W.B. Townsend (for whom the town was named). The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company now seeks to preserve the history and heritage of this community by collecting and preserving artifacts such as photographs, papers tools and even vintage railroad cars. They have a Shay 2147, a vintage caboose, two vintage flatcars, and a portable Frick steam engine. History buffs and rail enthusiasts alike will enjoy touring this wonderful museum.
The Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center
The great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center was founded to preserve the heritage of the Smoky Mountain region. From Native American artifacts dating back 5000 years to the culture and lifestyle of mountain pioneers, this museum displays the rich history and unique culture of East Tennessee.
This is just a sampling of the activities available in Townsend. There is also ample horseback riding, camping, hiking and even festivals to take part in and enjoy. While you’re in the area why not come see “The Peaceful Side of the Smokies.”