About the Museum

The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company was founded in 1982 as a non-profit corporation. Our mission is to preserve the history of the Little River Railroad and the Little River Lumber Company.

Museum Buildings

In 1983 the original Walland Depot building was moved to the site, and now contains the primary collection of photographs, papers, tools and other smaller artifacts. This building was renovated in 1995-96, and new exhibits were created to tell the Little River story. Alongside the depot platform, museum volunteers have constructed a replica of the Elkmont Post Office which houses our Gift Shop.

Shay #2147

Lima Locomotive Works Shay #2147 is the centerpiece of our outside displays. Built for equipment dealer Davis Supply Company of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania on April 14, 1909, #2147 is a 70 ton, 3 truck, Class “C” locomotive. First owned by Tellico River Lumber Company, a subsidiary of Babcock Lumber Company, in Tellico Plains, Tennessee, it was transferred to Babcock Land and Lumber Company in Alcoa, Tennessee following a catastrophic wreck. When Babcock began shutting down their operation in the early to mid-1930’s, #s 2147, 2149, 2762, 2890, and 2891, were sold to Little River Lumber Company.
#2147 didn’t stay long with Little River, perhaps three years and then it was sold to John Craig Company, a marble quarrying operation in Friendsville, Tennessee. In 1960 it was sold to Conasauga Lumber Company in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee and apparently was never used due to boiler issues. In 1965 it was sold to the tourist attraction, Bear Creek Scenic Railroad in Robbinsville, North Carolina. Stripped of all appliances and usable parts, it was placed beside the road at the entrance to draw attention. By 1982, Bear Creek was bankrupt, and its assets were being sold off to satisfy its debts. #2147 seemed destined for the scrapper’s torch. A group of interested Blount Countians convinced the Townsend Chamber of Commerce to purchase the engine to place on display in a yet-not-built city park. On Thanksgiving weekend 1982, #2147 returned to Townsend.
The public support and interest soon led to the formation of the Little River Railroad and Lumber Museum Incorporated. Miss Dorothy Fisher was one of the earliest, staunchest, and most generous supporters. #2147 was christened “Dorothy” in her honor. Miss Fisher’s father A. J. “Jack” Fisher had been the superintendent of the Schlosser Leather Company plant in Walland, Tennessee until it closed in 1937. The tannery needed a steady and copious supply of tanbark for its operation, and enticed Colonel W. B. Townsend and others to come to the Smokies in 1900 to look at lumbering prospects.
Technical Statistics
#2147 carried 5 tons of coal and 3,000 gallons of water. Empty weight was 121,200 lbs. (60.6 tons). Total weight fueled was 77 tons. The maximum safe speed was 19 mph. The boiler pressure was 200psi. It is set to standard gauge. Shay locomotives were designed with a unique geared drive line with the cylinders mounted vertically instead of the traditional horizontal. This provided exceptional tractive effort as every wheel was used to pull the train. Additionally, it allowed the Shays to negotiate much sharper curves than traditional locomotives making 180 degree turns in as little as a 100-foot radius. They could also climb grades up to 7% and run on light weight rail that was temporarily placed and lacked a solid roadbed. Because the cylinders were mounted vertically on the engineer’s side, the boiler was shifted towards the fireman’s side to balance the weight giving the Shay a distinctive offset appearance when viewed from the front.

Frick Steam Engine

The Frick Eclipse steam engine is typical of the stationary steam engines used throughout the United States from the late 1800’s until the 1950’s when internal combustion engines replaced them. The engine was not self-propelled and was moved by horses, oxen, mules, or tractors. This one was coal fired and required that a supply of coal and water be transported with it and be readily available. Wide canvas belts went around the large flywheels and attached to sawmills, threshers, or other machinery that utilized rotary motion. When sawn lumber was needed back in the woods or in the camps, these were used to cut logs on site rather than send them to the main mill and have them sent back as lumber. This engine, built around 1925, came from near Fontana, North Carolina where it was used to operate a sawmill. The museum staff have connected it to an air supply which provides enough pressure to demonstrate how it works.

Log Loader

The log loader was built by American Hoist and Derrick Company around 1925. It is very similar to the Barnhart loaders used by the Little River Lumber Company. The loader is self-propelled, and the wheels allow it to travel on rails spiked to the top of the flatcars. A “bridge” section of rail was placed between the flatcars to allow it to cross between cars. A string of empty flatcars would be brought to the loading area in the mountains and the loader would roll down to the next- to-last-car. It would then load the last car, back up, load the car it was just on, back up and repeat the process until the cars were loaded and it was back on the car it started from. In addition to loading logs, the loaders were also used to move the “set off” houses that were used for living quarters, shops, storage, and offices. A chain or cable was lowered through the roof and the floor of the set off building through specially designed holes, attached to the bottom of the building and it was lifted onto the flat cars. The buildings were designed so that two would fit on a flat car. The loader was steam powered and fueled by coal. This loader came from the Texas Museum of Forestry in Lufkin, Texas. When it was donated to them, they were told that it was used in the construction of the Panama Canal.

Set Off House

Set off houses were prefabricated buildings used as living quarters by lumbermen and their families, offices, shops, and storage buildings. Designed so that two buildings could be placed on a flatcar, these rudimentary structures were built by non-skilled labor at the mill site in Townsend and shipped wherever they were needed. They would be modified as needed on site with additional windows and doors added. They would be connected in long groups called “Stringtowns” or separately as needed.
Constructed using the “double box” technique, the vertical boards overlap like board-and-batten but are load bearing. There are no studs. The inside is lined with tongue and groove oriented horizontally. There is no ceiling, and the roof is formed from planks covered with tarpaper or perhaps tin. There was no insulation in the buildings and newspaper was used to cover the gaps and keep air out. Heat was provided by a coal or wood fired stove.
The center of the building had two trusses spaced about six inches apart with two pieces of wood perpendicular to them spaced about twelve inches apart forming a box. This was where the chain or cable ran through to the floor where two small pieces of wood were removed to allow it to be attached to a beam under the floor and lifted to a flat car to be moved. Belongings were secured, left inside and the family followed in passenger rail cars.
This set off house was one of three purchased by John Price from Little River Lumber Company when they were closing down operations. Price, an employee of the company, had the house shipped by rail from Tremont, to Walland on the Little River Railroad, then to Knoxville on the Southern Railway, and then onto Sevierville on the Knoxville, Sevierville and Eastern Railroad. From there he had them moved to Upper Middle Creek Road in Pigeon Forge where he assembled them into a residence.
In April of 2020, Price’s grandson, Tony donated the residence to the Museum. After careful assessment, it was determined that two of the setoff houses could be moved safely. The third had been modified to the extent that it could not stand alone. One of the houses is on display in the Restoration Shop. This one is awaiting restoration with plans to use it as an additional display building.

Welcome to All! – – – -If English is not your primary language and you would like an interpreter or translation, please let us know and assistance will be provided.- – – –

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin. It states: No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. If you believe you have been subjected to discrimination or have questions, please contact our Title VI Coordinator Charles Hanie Phone: 865-661-0170 email: littleriverrailroadmuseum@gmail.com or request a Complaint Form at the Visitor Desk. Alternatively, an individual may file a Title VI Complaint with the Tennessee Human Rights Commission or the federal agency that provided the funding assistance. A complaint must be filed within 180 days of the alleged incident.
¡Bienvenido a todos!
El Titulo VI del Acta de Derechos Civiles de 1964 (42 Estado Unidos Código §2000d) y Código Anotado §4- 21904 determina que cualquier entidad que reciba asistencia financiera Federal no discrimine a los beneficiarios o participant es de sus programas en base a raza, color, u origen nacional. Es ta institución no discrimina en contra de ninguna persona en base a raza, color, origen nacional, sexo, religión, incapacidad, edad, credo, estatus familiar, ocualquier otra base legal prohibida o protegida por la ley Federal o la ley Estatal. Siusted cree que ha sido discriminado por motivos de raza, color uorigen nacionalen violación del Título VI de la Ley de Derechos Civiles de 1964 puede presentar una queja ante: Title VI Coordinator Charles Hanie Phone: 865-661-0170 email: littleriverrailroadmuseum@gmail.com Title VI Compliance Officer Tennessee Human Rights Commission 312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, 23rd floor Nashville, TN 37243-1102 615-741-5825/800-251-3589 TN.GOV/humanrights
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