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a Continuing History of
Little River Railroad and Lumber Company
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Continued from page 01

While this was going on, the Southern Railway was building a connecting branch line from Maryville to Walland. This was completed in 1902. The sawmill town of Townsend, named after the president of the Little River Companies, was developed in an area that had lately been planted in corn, and was officially recognized by the establishment of Townsend Post Office. Here an elaborate lumber mill, home for the officers and other employees, and headquarter facilities for both the railroad and the lumber company, were built.

Under the name of East Prong Railroad, the Little River Lumber Company built a 15-mile extension from Forks to Elkmont, completing this segment in 1908. Many branches or lumber spurs were built including extensions into the Eldorado Creek, Laurel Creek, and Cades Cove Section; up the Middle Prong into Walker's Valley above Tremont; and up the East Prong above Elkmont to the North Carolina line.

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Monday - Saturday

The Little River Railroad maintained operating jurisdiction only over the Walland-Townsend segment; the remaining three miles between Townsend and Forks were leased to and operated by the lumber company. The LRRR was laid with new and relay 60' rail. The main track followed a water level route and had a few open deck trestles. However, Little River was crossed by a 78' deck plate girder bridge with rather extensive trestled approaches on each end. The rolling stock owned by the Little River Railroad, while varying from time to time, generally included two locomotives, seven freight cars, five passenger cars, and four work train cars.

During the hey-day of the Little River operations, many loads of logs were moved to the mill at Townsend, and cars of finished lumber to the Southern connection at Walland. In 1905, the entire mill plant at Townsend burned, but it was immediately rebuilt. Fire again destroyed the mill in 1916, and again the structure was replaced. Meanwhile, Colonel Townsend was identifying himself with the community. Among his other activities, he founded the Blount National Bank at Maryville and was its first president.

Many of the locomotives owned by the lumber company operated on the railroad-owned trackage, supplementing the two locomotives actually owned by the railroad company. Likewise, the engines of the latter organization ran clear to Elkmont over the lumber company's main line in providing its passenger service from Walland. This normally consisted of one daily round trip.


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