Historic Places: Elkmont
Located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Elkmont is definitely a treasure to find. What appears to be a "Ghost Town" actually started as an Appalachian Club vacation community.
The land was once owned by Little River Lumber Company and in 1910, they started selling off the land in order to create an elite private social club. Later the Wonderland Hotel was purchased and the Wonderland Club was created. This area quickly became a favorite vacation spot among wealthy East TN families. Elkmont became the home for the birth of the National Park.
In 1926, Colonel Wilson B. Townesend, the owner of Little River Lumber Company, sold the 76,000 acres so that it could be turned into the national park. While most people in park boundaries were forced to sell their land and relocate, those in the Elkmont area were able to sell their cottages at half the price in exchange for lifetime leases. Most of the leases expired in 1992 and the final two expired in 2001.
Much debate occurred on whether to protect these structures or to let the park return back to its natural state. In 1982, the park wanted all structures to be removed. However, in 1994 several were placed on the historic registry preventing them from being demolished.
Fast forward to today, where the park has decided to preserve 19 structures and raze 55 structures. In 2017, 4 structures will be preserved and 29 will be demolished. Work is expected to begin March 6 and be completed by May 26. The preservation of the 4 structures is estimated to cost $383,000 dollars. Most of the structures being kept are in the Daisy Town area of Elkmont. The 1st 6 structures are estimated to be removed from the "Millionaire's Row" section between March 6 and March 24th. The remaining 23 structures will be removed from "Society Hill" between March 27 and May 26. If you want to see some of these structures before they are removed you better act fast.