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Hidden Treasures in the Great Smoky Mountains

When the Great Smoky Mountain National Park was created, more than 500,000 acres of land had to be condemned and cleared to make way for the new park. More than 90 small towns and villages had to be dissolved, displacing many families and businesses.Many of these settlements had a connection to the great deal of logging operations that characterized this enormous mountain range. The villages were demolished and machinery used for the logging industry was removed.

Some of the remains from that era can still be viewed in the wilderness area of the Park. In the Eagle Creek drainage, there are the fenced in remains of a mine. Proctor, accessible by boat or trail, has many concrete footings that point towards a thriving community of the turn of the century. Bone Valley has a cabin that has remained there after the establishment of the park. Below are photos from two of my more favorite artifact sites.


Greenbriar Area Steam Engine
Three miles up the Grapeyard Ridge area is the remains of a Nichols-Shepard Steam Engine. Lying in the shallow water of Injun Creek the engine has remained here since the 1920's. Clearly visible from the trail, the engine is in excellent condition. The engine was used to saw timber in this area and was returning from a trip to Webbs Creek. After a small miscalculation on the driver's part, the engine slid off of the road (trail) and tumbled into the creek. The driver jumped clear and no one was injured by the mishap. Most of the wreckage was salvaged and all that remains is the boiler and two wheels.

Forney Creek Trail Logging Locomotive

Approximately one three quarters of a mile from the Forney Creek trail, a logging locomotive lays on it's side for eternity. Nestled in a rhododendron cove, wreckage is scattered throughout this site. To access this site you must hike off of the trail and follow a very faint, unmarked trail. This area is very dense in the Summer and off trail hiking is not recommended. Getting lost in this area of the park can be fatal. That being said, the path to the trail can be found and navigated with reasonable ease.

This area was logged during the first world war and the spruce that was logged here was used in the manufacture of airplanes. At an elevation of more than 5200 feet the surrounding forest is comprised of northern hardwoods and spruce fir. Most of the trees are of second growth and very few old growth trees can be found here. Want to know more? Email>>


The path begins in a dense spruce fir forest


After a short walk, the path exits to an old railroad grade


The railroad grade is remarkably well defined. It hasn't be used in more than 60 years

After passing a scattering of brake parts and other wreckage, the locomotive is located 100 feet below the railroad grade.

Most of the wreckage has been cleared, however, parts can still be found scattered about


Standing next to the firebox, you can still see the coal that spilled after the wreck


This wreck is located at the intersection of
a access road and the railroad grade

 

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