We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“The history of Townsend and logging in the Smokies”

Ranked #10 of 32 things to do in Townsend
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Townsend, Tennessee
Level 6 Contributor
14 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“The history of Townsend and logging in the Smokies”
Reviewed January 17, 2012

The full sized engine, coal car and water tank is wonderful as is the display of train memorabilia in the museum. The museum is an excellent resource of information about the early years in Townsend and logging the smokies before the park was established. If you ever wondered how the sinks became the sinks (rock formation and waterfall in Little River about 6 miles from the 'Y') - you will find the answer here. A visit to this museum plus the Smoky Heritage museum and a trip to Cades Cove will tie it all together for those wanting to get a quick history overview of this region.

Visited August 2011
1 Thank tnoutdrsmn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

105 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Lincoln Park, Michigan
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed December 11, 2011

I instantly spotted this Museum because here in Michigan we work & service all Railroads. Ie: CSX, CP Rail, NS & Amtrack!

Visited November 2011
1 Thank Yvonne T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Canandaigua, New York
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Great museum with friendly staff”
Reviewed July 31, 2011

I visited the museum to do research for a project I'm doing for work. The staff was incredibly helpful and knowledgable! The museum itself has a lot of amazing photos and artifacts, and its also FREE! It holds a great amount of Smoky Mountain history that is hard to find anywhere else!

Visited February 2011
1 Thank linslax8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
1,207 reviews
505 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1,784 helpful votes
“Nice FREE Train Museum & Depot, Friendly Staff, Intersting peek at Logging History”
Reviewed July 20, 2009

My husband and I decided to vist the Little River Railroad & Lumber Museum while we were vacationing in Gatlinburg over the July 4th week/weekend. I thought it would be a nice stop for the husband since he enjoys trains and history.

To get to the Little River Railroad & Lumber Museum, we turned at light #3 in Pigeon Forge and followed Wears Valley Road to the light in Townsend. At the light in Townsend you will see a sign for the railroad musuem & make a right onto Highway 73. The railroad musuem is less than a mile up on your right hand side.

Once at the railroad musuem, we saw the big wooden watertower, the Little River Lumber Company train and train tracks, railroad crossing sign, giftshop building, Wallad Depot (houses the indoor museum), log loader, and more. We walked past the old train and up the wooden steps that stood alongside the train in order to take a peek at the controls and interior to the train. It was very interesting to see just how many controls and gears there are to operate one of these trains!

After taking a quick peek inside the trail, we walked up the partially completed brick walkway to the gift shop area and went inside. The gentleman working at the museum was very friendly and welcomed us to the museum. He asked us where we were from and carried on a conversation with my husband for quite some time about the logging that used to be done in these parts of Tennessee. Meanwhile, I looked around the giftshop that sold mugs, hats, t-shirts, and playing cards....in addition to other train related items. Once I was done looking around, the gentleman told us to go ahead and walk around the Depot next door that housed the indoor musuem. He said it was completely FREE to look around, but they do have a donation jar on site should you want to give a dollar or two. He also said that if we had any questions about anything to just ask & he would be happy to try to answer them. He then told us that the restrooms were just outback if we needed to use them.

We walked over to the Wallad Depot that had been relocated to this site. The depot is close to 100 years old, thought to have been built around 1903. The Depot now houses the indoor musuem that has various displays including information on Early Settlers, The Tannery, Locomotives & Railcars, Train Wrecks, Early Logging, Log Loaders & Log Trains, The Townsend Mill, Camp Life, Townsend, Tourism, the end of an Era and an actual Track display. My husband could have easily spend several hours reading all of the informational and educational signs throughout the small depot. He really enjoyed learning about the Logging history of this area of Tennessee. He was fascinated with the history of the logging operations and the equiptment used by the loggers such as the log loaders. I personally thought that the display on Camp Life was interesting. It told stories of what it was like to live along the train tracks in the original "single wide trailers" & the danger of living alongside the tracks if a logging train should spill its load of lumber.

Overall, we enjoyed learning a little bit of history about the area--including the logging inudstry and railroad that made it all possible. Many of the displays were not only educational, but very interesting. You can spend as little or as much time here as you like . I think we ended up spending about an hour here, but my husband could have easily spent another 30 minutes or more here! The museum staff was VERY friendly and welcoming. He even invited us to come back to the gift shop to sign the guest book before heading out for the day.

I would recommend this museum to anyone who loves trains. It is definately worth a peek & is FREE to visit. Anyone (especially Men & Children) interested in trains or logging will probably enjoy this attraction. Allow at least one hour to visit this attraction.

**Note: The walkway outside around the museum was partially brick & partially gravel stone walkways when we visited. The musuem is in the process of making a brick walkway. Visitors can purchase a brick and have an inscription on the brick that will be added to the historic walkway. The cost for a regular 4x8 brick was $75 (2009). The funds go towards the restoration, operation, and development of the musuem.

9 Thank daisyferret1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Naperville, IL
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
“Nice for Train Buffs”
Reviewed November 7, 2008

I was on a trip to Cade's Cove with my husband when we passed a shay on the side of Highway 321 near the west entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. My husband is an HO scale modeler so of course we had to stop.

That is how we found this cute little train museum. After spending a lot of time examining & photographing the shay & log loader we proceeded into the free museum. The museum contains many papers, photographs and artifacts from the Little River Railroad & Lumber Company. My husband was entranced. I finally had to drag him out of there so we could get to Cade's Cove before sundown!

This should be a stop on any train buff's itinerary.

2 Thank cheribob
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum also viewed


Been to The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing