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Townsend is a town in Blount County, Tennessee, United States. It's population was 244 at the 2000 U.S. census. It is included in the Knoxville, Tennessee Metropolitan Statistical Area. Townsend is situated in Tuckaleechee Cove, and is named for the former owner of the turn-of-the-century Little River Lumber Company. It is considered a gateway community for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, having one of the three entrances that continues as a paved road though the park. Especially compared to the extremely commercialized Gatlinburg nearby, and even to Cherokee, North Carolina on the other side, Townsend is very quiet and low-key. The town has it's share of restaurants targeting the tourists headed to the Great Smokey Mountains.
Townsend Area Attractions:
Four Seasons of Fun: The moderate climate of this region provides the basis of four very different but very beautiful seasons.
Cades Cove: Townsend is the most convenient access point to Cades Cove, one of the premier attractions of the National Park, located approximately 8 miles from Townsend. This 2000 acre open air museum depicts the lifestyles of our early mountain settlers. Cades Cove is traversed by an 11 mile loop road. Many old homesteads and churches are visible from your car. There are plenty of pull-offs and hiking trails. Bicycles may be rented at the Bike Shop. The loop road is closed to autos on Wednesdays and Saturdays, early May till late September, from sunrise until 10 a.m. and also, in December, Saturdays from sunrise until noon. During these time it is bicycles only.
Tuckaleechee Caverns: A wonderful series of underground rooms and tunnels - with ceilings as high as 150 feet and some rooms are 400 feet long with stalagmites and stalactites growing from ceilings and floors. It contains waterfalls, streams and has a constant natural temperature of 58 degrees.
Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum: Original trains and memorabilia from the days when Townsend was a logging community. Located on Hwy. 321 in the middle of Townsend.
The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company, Inc. was organized to preserve the history and artifacts from the former Little River Railroad and the Little River Lumber Company which carried out intense logging activities and opened up access to the area over a period of nearly 40 years beginning in 1900. Although this important part of the history of this area is preserved at the museum in Townsend, there is little other visible evidence left today in the Smokies of the operations of these companies.
Foothills Parkway: The Foothills Parkway provides some beautiful views of the Smokies - especially in the fall color season. A section of the Parkway begins near Walland, just outside Townsend, and extends 17 miles along the crest of Chilhowee Mountain to Chilhowee Lake. There are numerous scenic pull-offs along the way - including one at Look Rock, where an observation tower provides a panoramic 360-degree view of mountains and valley. Chilhowee Lake, at the southern end of the Parkway provides great fishing, canœing and kayaking.
The Little River flows from the park through the length of Townsend, parallel to the newer State Route 73 (Tuckaleechee Road). The other main road nearby is U.S. 321, to Wear Valley, Tennessee, a town in Wear Cove, and then to Gatlinburg. Within the park, the road to Cades Cove is nearby. Maryville is another nearby community, and it is the county seat of Blount County.
The population of Tuckaleechee Cove is over 1500 with many part-time and full-time residents. Tuckaleechee Caverns is another tourist attraction in the area.
Townsend, itself, is a great place to visit, to do business, or to live. It has many recreational and sight-seeing opportunities of its own - as well as being adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This enchanting community has an interesting history, and some fascinating local attractions. It is a part of historic and scenic Blount County, Tennessee - with easy access to Knoxville, and the University of Tennessee - in addition to the shops and shows of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the more commercialized areas of the Smokies.
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