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A Short History of
the Little River Railroad
and Lumber Company
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In 1886, a group of investors headed by Col. W.B. Townsend from Pennsylvania, after a lumber resource investigation, formed these two companies. Early in 1901, Little River Lumber Company was chartered as lumber operations began in Blount and Sevier Counties in what is now known as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On November 21, 1901, the Little River Railroad was chartered.
Nearly 100,000 acres of timberland were purchased along Little River and its tributaries, in Cades Cove, and along Pigeon River.


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Construction of the railroad began in Walland in 1902 where it interchanged with the Knoxville and Augusta, predecessor of the Knoxville and Charleston Railway, a subsidiary of Southern Railway. The eight miles from Walland to Townsend was opened for operation January 1, 1903, and the three miles between Townsend and the forks of Little River (the Y) were completed in March, 1903. The operation was extended for fifteen miles through Little River Gorge to Elkmont in 1906. A spur was extended to Clingman's Dome. Many spurs which were built to reach virgin timber only existed a month or two.

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