History of Townsend

So, throughout the website here we’ve talked much about the history of culture of Townsend, but we haven’t said much about what that is… until now.

While the real history of this quiet little gem in the Smokies could fill a decent-sized book (and has, many times), we will need to use a highly condensed version to cover the bases until you can get here and find out more for yourself (don’t want to give away all the good stuff before you get to see and experience it!)

The Native Americans, naturally, were the first to settle the area as far back as 2000BC. The Cherokee Native Americans arrived somewhere in the area of 1600AD and built a series of small villages along the Wye river. It is said there was an attack by the Shawano tribe in the mid 1700s, and even though the Cherokee were said to have won the skirmish, by the late 18th century, European settlers had found the Cherokee apparently abandoned their villages.

Soon after that, the pioneers of European stock began settling in the Tuckaleechee area of Townsend. In the 1880s, the area experienced a lumber industry boom due to the invention of the band saw and the logging railroad. The quality and quantity of lumber from the nearby Smoky Mountains held this local industry aloft until the 1930s, when what was left of the Smoky Mountain National Park became federally protected land.

In the meantime, there were many adventures and feuds between people who lived here and nearby and you’ll see more on that as you visit Cades Cove, the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Museum and other areas of interest. See our Things To Do navigation item above for a drop-down list of more information on those establishments.