Newsletter of the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum

Annual Meeting

The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum, Townsend, TN has set Saturday, April 20, 2013 for our Annual Meeting.

As we have had for the past six years, we have another really outstanding program for our Annual Meeting this year. Friend of the Museum, Mark Fuhrman will speak about his activities with large scale model railroading.

Mark grew up driving a tractor during the summers on his Uncle’s dairy farm in eastern Ohio. He lived in Nashville and graduated from Antioch High School. After his graduation from Tennessee Tech in 1977 he moved to Clinton where he continues to live today with his wife, Judy, and their son, Jordon (a first year medical student at Lincoln Memorial University). Mark is a garden railroad hobbyist, spending much of his spare time constructing scale model buildings based on local architecture during the logging days in the Smoky Mountains; specifically around the Little River Railroad which was based in Townsend, Tennessee. Mark often volunteers at the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge, helping to maintain the garden railroad area and running g-scale model trains on the 3rd Sunday of every month. Mark is also an avid hiker and has completed all the hiking trails within Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

In addition to a picnic lunch, we will also have motorized speeder and hand car rides (you provide the power for the hand car) and tours of the museum and the new shop building.

Our Schedule Is:

Tour Museum Property
Presented By: Museum Staff
10:00a – Noon
Reservations – NO

Presented By: Museum Staff
Noon to 1:00p
Reservations – YES

Business Meeting
Presented By: Rick Turner
1:00p – 1:30p
Reservations – NO

Modeling Little River Railroad
Presented By: Mark Fuhran
1:30p – 2:30p
Reservations – NO

President’s Message
by Rick Turner

In my message from last year I indicated that I would be stepping down as President. It appears I was mistaken, and I have now served seven years as your President. However, when I tell you this year that I’m stepping down, it will be true as Board Member Don Niday will be the new President.

As I said last year I have enjoyed being your President, and I look forward to continued involvement with the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum for a long time. I want to thank everyone and especially the Board of Directors for the support and confidence you have shown in me for the past seven years.

Annual Memberships and Donations

Each year we ask each of you to contribute the small amount $21.47 for continued membership in the Museum. The benefits of membership have always included our annual newsletter, The Semaphore, and our grateful thanks for your support. Memberships are annual and run from the 1st of January to the 31st of December. Again this year we are continuing the benefit to membership in the Museum by giving all members a 10% discount on all items in the Gift Shop.

For those members who receive The Semaphore online, we now provide the ability to start or renew memberships on line through the Gift Shop. For all others a membership form is on the last page.

Our plans to further enhance and improve the Museum depend on your support. Your tax deductible donation and membership go a long way in that effort. We cannot do it without you.

Elkmont, Rooted in Smoky Park History, Is Proud of Tradition
By Willard Yarbrough

[Edit: This article was written in 1965]

The Trenthams, Partons and Ownbys were refreshing mountaineers who inhabited Elkmont Country in the 19th Century, long before the coming of the Elkmonters from Knoxville who founded the

Appalachian Club in 1907, erected a rustic clubhousehotel and their own log cottages. Appalachian members and the natives learned to get on famously, and each side has left its legends deep in Smoky Mountain soil.

How did Elkmont get its name? There are several versions. The most consistent, however, as recalled by Mrs. Maidee Deloach Adams and Earnest Trentham, is that it was named for the Knoxville Elks Club.

Elks Club members hunted and fished in the area around 1900, before the Little River Railroad came.

And as for Jake’s Creek, whose babbling waters lull cottagers to sleep, ’tis said it was named for Jake Parton.

Elkmonters, now in their fourth generation, continue to abide in their cabins deep within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Thirty-one of the 47 cottages are occupied either by their ‘originals’ ‘ or by their children and grandchildren who spent the summers of their formative years fishing for trout or swimming in Jake’s Creek and the East Prong of Little River, hiking Elkmont trails, and learning about nature and mountain folk simply by living among them.

The real beginning of the private Appalachian Club and its neighbor, the publicly-open Wonderland Park Hotel and Club nearby, goes back to Knoxville and 1901.

Mrs. Joseph P. Murphy remembers the beginning. Her cottage is on the banks of the Little River’s East Prong, up River Rd., which Elkmonters jokingly call ‘Millionaire’s Row’.

‘Three Pennsylvanians seeking giant timber growth came South,’ said Mrs. Murphy. ‘They were Col. W. B. Townsend and J. W. Wrigley of Clearfield, and F. H. McCormick of Williamsport.’ ‘Col. Townsend knew Joseph Patrick Murphy, who was to become my husband, but then of Pennsylvania, and talked him into joining the enterprise, realizing that most officials were advancing in age.’

‘There followed the Little River Railroad, with Murphy as superintendent, and the Little River Lumber Co., which acquired some 80,000 acres of land from mountain owners.’ ‘Headquarters was in Townsend, named for the firms’ President. And from Townsend, the company carved out a railroad line that reached 18 miles into Elkmont, and beyond.’

Adventurous Knoxvillians caught on quickly. They boarded the Southern Railway’s Knoxville and Augusta Railroad affiliate and rode to Walland and Townsend, then transferring to the Little River Railroad’s logging train.

At first, these Knoxvillians rode the ‘dog car’ or caboose, got off at Elkmont and the train continued up to Jake’s Creek to the logging camps. This weekend trip became so popular that the wives became curious.

‘So in 1907 the wives and husbands hunted and fished together in Elkmont,’ Mrs. Murphy said. ‘The first big summer for both was in 1908, when the Appalachian Clubhouse was built. Col. Townsend, who let the club have acreage for its site and for the log cottages, added an observation car on the logging train, later passenger coaches.’

Wonderland Club flourished in its day too, being opened and well advertised as the ideal summer resort in the Great Smokies. Vacationers and excursioners came over the same railroad route ‘ a torturous 2-1/2 to 4 hour trip ‘ from Knoxville. Wonderland Station was a platform, where weekenders and others stepped off the coaches. There were rooms and cabins, and lots were offered for sale for ‘$25.00 up’

The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company, Inc.

PO Box 211, Townsend, Tennessee 37882

This Company has been chartered by the state of Tennessee as a not-for-profit corporation.

The Company has established, and it maintains and operates, a museum for the purpose of preserving artifacts, papers, photographs and equipment of the Little River Railroad and Lumber Companies’ operations, based in Townsend, Tennessee, and to exhibit same for the enlightenment of the general public.

We accept contributions of any articles pertaining to the history of these companies and the people of this community. No gift is too small. All gifts will be acknowledged.