Ghost Town in the Great Smoky Mountains

Published May 11, 2020

Elkmont, Tennessee is one of the most interesting and unique ghost towns in the country. It's located in the Smoky Mountains, right outside of Gatlinburg. Elkmont is known for its historic buildings and its amazing scenery. If you're looking for a fun day trip or a place to explore, Elkmont is definitely worth checking out!


From pioneers to loggers to resort hunters, Elkmont was many different things in its prolific lifetime. Originally inhabited by the First Peoples, Appalachian pioneers quickly stole for themselves the land that would later be called Elkmont in the late 1700’s. Thus, construction began on the town of Elkmont.

Several buildings from this pioneer period are actually still standing today.


Next came the era of dams and logging operations. Elkmont soon became the basecamp for multiple logging settlements scattered throughout the area. This logging heyday continued for several decades until the early 20th century, when a large portion of the land was sold to the Great Smoky Mountains Park Commission which saw the area as a highly desirable tourist attraction.


The logging encampments were built over. Hotels and resort cottages started to spring up. The area was so beautiful that resort construction boomed as people flocked to visit the area. Many people bought cottages.

The timeline of Elkmont is not exactly linear, and much of each of these eras overlap. For example, the boom to buy resort cottages was happening while logging was still the town’s main operation. As soon as the proposal for a national park entered the picture, tensions between the different factions of Elkmont were running very high.


The last resident officially left Elkmont in 2001, though the town was basically abandoned long before that. The former clubhouses ceased operations and most of the cottage owners had long since sold their properties to the government as Tennessee moved to create a national park in the area.

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