Menu Close

The Abandoned Town of Elkmont: A Haunting Reminder of a Bygone Era

amed Colonel W.​B.​ Townsend.​ Townsend had a vision of creating a luxurious summer resort in the mountains‚ and he began construction on what would become the Wonderland Hotel in 1912.​ The hotel was perched on a hill overlooking Elkmont and offered breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
As word spread about the beauty of Elkmont‚ wealthy vacationers from Knoxville and other nearby cities flocked to the resort town.​ The area became a popular destination for escaping the summer heat and enjoying the pristine natural surroundings. In addition to the Wonderland Hotel‚ several cottages were constructed along the way to the Appalachian Clubhouse‚ which served as a gathering place for the elite of Knoxville society.​

The heyday of Elkmont lasted through the 1920s and 1930s‚ but eventually‚ changes in transportation and the onset of the Great Depression led to a decline in visitors.​ The logging industry that had once thrived in Elkmont also began to wane.​ As a result‚ many of the wealthy families who owned cottages in the town started to abandon their properties.

Despite the decline‚ some residents of Elkmont made efforts to keep the town alive.​ In 1952‚ the National Park Service‚ which had taken possession of the land‚ converted the lifetime leases of the remaining cottage owners to 20-year leases. These leases were renewed again in 1972.​ However‚ as the years went by‚ the cottages fell into disrepair‚ and the decision was made to preserve the area as a historic district rather than renovate the buildings.​

Today‚ Elkmont is known as a ghost town in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.​ The once-thriving resort community is now a haunting reminder of a bygone era.​ Visitors to the area can explore the remains of the cottages and buildings‚ with some areas accessible via hiking trails.​ The Elkmont Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as a testament to the rich history and culture of the region.​

In recent years‚ there have been ongoing debates and discussions about the fate of the remaining buildings in Elkmont.​ Some advocate for their restoration‚ while others argue for preserving the rustic‚ abandoned charm of the town. Whatever the eventual outcome may be‚ Elkmont continues to captivate visitors with its eerie‚ yet intriguing‚ atmosphere.​
In conclusion‚ the abandoned town of Elkmont in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a glimpse into the past.​ Once a bustling resort community‚ it now stands as a ghost town‚ with remnants of its former glory still visible. Exploring the area allows visitors to connect with the history and natural beauty of the region‚ and to contemplate the passage of time. Whether one is a history enthusiast or simply curious about the mysteries of abandoned places‚ Elkmont offers a unique and memorable experience.​