The Wonderland Hotel was built on land formerly owned by the Little River Railroad Company. As the area became "logged out", Little River Railroad Company President Col. W.B. Townsend began to recognize the future benefits of attracting tourists to the area. With this in mind, in 1911 he gave Charles B. Carter 50 acres of cut over land with the stipulation that he build on the land within one year. Carter formed the Wonderland Club Company and on June 11, 1912 the Wonderland Hotel opened its doors. It would stay open to the public for seven years before closing to club members only.
On November 15, 1992 the Wonderland Hotel saw its last day of operation. Three years later the Hotel was partially burned under suspicious circumstances. Many people suspect that the fire was set by National Park Service employees as a means to remove the building. In 2005, the remnants of the Hotel collapsed, and the National Park Service awarded a $65,419 contract to Moran Construction of Abingdon, Virginia to begin carefully dismantling the remains of the collapsed hotel. The historically significant doors, windows, bathtubs and other artifacts were set aside for permanent preservation.
For more information on current efforts to restore the historic Elkmont community in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, please click here.
Last Train to Elkmont: A Look Back at Life on Little River
By: Vic Weals
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