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Abandoned Theme Park – Ghost Town in the Sky
It was a rainy morning back in 2018. We arrived at the theme park just before sunrise, after driving several hours through the night from Atlanta. When we arrived, the fog was rolling in fast and it looked like it was going to storm bad.
There were trail cams on our walk up and we weren’t sure about security, so we planned to move fast through the abandoned theme park. Within an hour of being there, Becca wouldn’t stop saying how much “this was her favorite location ever.” It rained for a little while then eventually passed and the weather got beautiful. We spent a good 8 hours that day in the mountains exploring the abandoned Ghost Town. Just as we started to talk about our perfect day when we were leaving, Becca got pulled over for speeding. The state police questioned what we were doing, and why we were in the middle of nowhere without any luggage. After they searched our car, they let us go without any tickets. I hope you enjoyed this video and thanks for watching!
“ R est in paradise sweet angel. You’re so missed and I wish we could have one more explore together. I can’t pick a favorite memory cause I hold them all so tight and close now that your gone. I miss singing in the car and dancing around decaying places with you. I miss bouncing ideas of each other and sending each other five different photos before the final edit is done. But what I miss the most is your smile and laugh and they way you were there for me no matter where you were or what you are doing. You’re an amazing person Becca and this world is lucky you left such amazing art and memories behind. We all love you and miss you!” ~ Carly Weiss
Welcome to Abandoned Central. A Community where photographers from around the globe can come to showcase their adventures of various forgotten structures. We provide an up-close and person view of many hospitals, schools, churches, and other decaying structures hidden in the fast and ever growing world, that many have discarded and long forgotten about. You get to watch as we document each structure we find and bring it back to life with our photography. You’ll also be able to purchase various documented photos taken from photographers of these explores.
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Ghost Town, Maggie Valley: Reopening?
Win a 2-night stay at a blue ridge mountain vintage motel or treehouse cabin.
Many of us have wonderful childhood memories of visiting Ghost Town in the Sky in Maggie Valley . This mountaintop amusement park was wildly popular in the 70s and 80s. It opened in 1961 and closed in 2002, followed by a series of owners that have opened parts of the park for a short time. We got a behind-the-scenes look in 2017, so take a peek inside the extra ghostly abandoned park with the photo tour below.
Ghost Town in the Sky Photo Tour & History
Ghost Town in the Sky was famous for its Wild-West theme, live-action shows and beautiful setting on top of Buck Mountain at 4,600 ft. elevation. The name changed to "Ghost Town Village" in 2012.
After parking and buying a ticket, visitors rode the chairlift or incline car 2/3 of a mile up the mountain, climbing more than 1,250 ft. in elevation. The chairlift with those wonderful mountain views will return for the reopening - the incline car will not.
Ghost Town was divided into several "towns" with different themes, including Indian Village, Mountain Town, and Mining Town. The Old West Street is still fully intact, and all the buildings still have their original furnishings. Extra ghostly!
The most popular section was the Old West town with saloons (pic above is the Silver Dollar) with can-can dancers, a jail and businesses along the main street that was the sight of hourly gunfights.
The Red Dog Saloon featured live country music.
Rides included the Red Devil Cliffhanger roller coaster (pic above), tilt-a-whirl, Goldrusher, Sea Dragon, Monster, Mining Town Swing, Black Widow Scrambler, Bumper Cars, Dream Catcher Paratrooper, Casino, Round Up, Lil Devil coaster, Merry Go Round and Silver Bullet flume.
The popular Ghost Town Train is waiting to carry visitors around the park.
The very unique theme park was created by R.B. Coburn and built for $1 million, opening in May 1961 as an immediate huge success. At its peak, more than 500,000 people visited each season. While new rides were added through the 1990s, older rides began breaking down on a regular basis. After visitors got stuck on the chairlift in 2002, Colburn closed the park and put it up for sale.
The amazing mountain views were always a big draw. Ghost Town was sold and reopened in May 2007 after millions were spent on renovations. During a bad economy that brought high gas prices, the park closed again after the 2009 season due to a massive mudslide in February 2010 and financial woes. One of the original owners, Alaska Presley, bought the park back in 2012 with plans of transforming it to Ghost Town Village. However, she hit some stumbling blocks and was only able to reopen sections of the park for a short time. It's been totally closed since then. Former Disney executives made a grand attempt to purchase Ghost Town in 2018 and 2019, but they encountered some big stumbling blocks.
If you want to see it on the big screen, seek out the 2007 movie "Dean Teaster's Ghost Town". Two other films, "Mandie and the Secret Tunnel" (2008) and "Ringside Rosary" (2010) were also filmed there.
The park is located at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains and is 4 miles east of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Milepost 255 in Maggie Valley. It is 14 miles east of Cherokee and 34 miles west of Asheville. Much of Maggie Valley has retained its nostalgic feel with many original "mom and pop" motels and gift shops. See things to do in Maggie Valley .
Another Ghost Town See a real ghost town at Henry River (read more) near Morganton.
- Waynesville, NC
Downtown's quaint old buildings, brick sidewalks, galleries, and general store take you back to a more leisurely time. Each summer, Folkmoot USA. attracts entertainers from all over the world. The Museum of NC Handicrafts is housed in the historic Shelton House. On summer Friday nights, come down for the Mountain Street Dances.
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Order the 56-page free "Visit NC Smokies" guide to Haywood County, home to small towns of Maggie Valley, Waynesville, Lake Junaluska, Canton, and Clyde - in the Great Smokies, Pisgah National Forest and along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
This longtime mountain resort town has kept much of its local charm with vintage motels and plenty of gift shops with arts and crafts. Tour Wheels Through Time collection of classic cars and motorcycles. Ski at Cataloochee. Festivals include Hillbilly Jam and Elk Fest.
This beautiful lake town near the Great Smoky Mountains is home to trails, boat tours, golf, gardens and a big variety of lodging options, including lakefront hotels and cabin rentals for a Methodist church retreat.
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Explore The Elkmont Ghost Town
#elkmont #greatsmokymountains #history
You may have heard of Elkmont campground , one of the most frequently visited and used campgrounds in the Smoky Mountains , but did you know that just steps away from the campsites you'll find a real ghost town to explore? The Elkmont ghost town is an abandoned resort that still stands eerily in the mountains. Read on about this unique sight in the Smokies and plan to walk to abandoned resort paths on your next trip.
The History Of Elkmont Ghost Town
The Elkmont area has human use dated back to somewhere around 8,000 years ago. Euro-Americans settled into Elkmont in the 19th century and the area was primarily a logging community throughout the 19th and early 20th century. A community was built, complete with a railroad line, a school, church and plenty of homes.
Elkmont transitioned into becoming part of the tourism industry in the early 1900s. Around 1910, the Little River Lumber Company who owned Elkmont TN sold some of the land to individuals who created the Appalachian Clubhouse. This property expanded to allow members to build vacation cottages, which happened alongside the construction of an additional property, The Wonderland Hotel.
The National Park was established in 1934 and following this, the NPS began purchasing land previously owned by the Little River Lumber Company. Eventually, the owners of the Elkmont cottages were asked to sell their land. In return, they received lifetime leases. Individuals who were within the National Park boundaries were forced to sell their land no matter what. Any leases that remained expired officially in 1992.
Elkmont Ghost Town
After the park service purchased the land and the leases expired, over 70 buildings stood in the park with nobody to maintain them. They began to deteriorate and turned into what is known as the "Elkmont Ghost Town" in the Smoky Mountains. The eerie feeling of exploring the remains of a once lively logging town is a unique experience that is hard to match in the mountains.
The original plan was for the NPS to remove all the cottages and structures to let the area return to its natural state. The National Register of Historic Places, however, placed many of the cottages on a protected list. This prevented many of the cottages from being torn down. As a result, many still stand abandoned today, with only a few of them being restored.
In 2018, the National Park demolished some all but 19 of the buildings in Elkmont. The protected buildings that still stand will be preserved and restored to their previous states. They will be a great destination for visitors to explore someday, but in the meantime the area feels just like a ghost town, abandoned and left to fall apart. You can hike there and see for yourself.
Of the remaining buildings, some of the most popular sights to explore are the Levi Trentham cabin that was already restored in 2017 and the Elkmont Troll Bridge . Visitors can still hike the Jakes Creek and Little River trails and find signs of previous cabins including chimneys, crumbled walls and more.
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Ghost Town theme park in Maggie Valley plans to reopen - Sevier County Forum
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Not sure if I should post this here
I think it’s helpful to visitors of Sevier County to know about places in nearby Maggie Valley.
I hope it does get reopened as planned!
Maggie Valley has such a following now, even with the Ghost Town closed, that its difficult to get a room on many occasions, the elk in Cataloochee being a big draw. The town is truly the hidden gem of the Smokies. I can't imagine what it would be if they reopen a la Kings Island.
That place has announced that they were re-opening about 300 times in the last 10 years. I wouldn't count on it.
It will never be like it was back in the day. I have heard many times over the years about them reopening but nothing so far. It said they would open in stages. I guess they don't want to put all their eggs in one basket. It's a risky move but if they do open I will check it out for just for old times sake.
Gosh, I recall the ads from the 1960’s - 70’s, but never made it there.
Not sure I would, were they to reopen.
Best of luck to them,
Here’s an update: it’s back on the market, so it won’t be opening any time soon, unfortunately. https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article232242782.html
Here’s another update, it’s under contract again: https://www.smokymountainnews.com/news/item/27721-ghost-town-under-contract-again
This has been going on for years. Lots of money has been lost trying to reopen the park. I would like to see it reopen but truthfully I don't see it happening. With all the past problems, all the new regulations, etc it would be hard to do.
I hope I am wrong but it is only time before it becomes condos or something similar.
I saw that article when it came out, but it will be a while before anything substantive could happen.
A lot of business owners in Maggie were hurt when GT closed. It re-opened once, in a limited fashion, and soon closed again. There were a couple of times that it seemed it might finally re-open, but they all fell through. It would be awesome if the park could re-open and make a go of it. I love that view from the lift!
When we were up there this summer it looked link the Chair lift had been took down and the inclined looked bad too. Which I could get one of the chair lift chairs. The new regulations has put a hurt on the old chair lifts. Like I said I like to see it reopen.
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- Condo with view but close yesterday
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Sevier County Hotels and Places to Stay
Ghost Town theme park in Maggie Valley plans to reopen
Ghost Town in the Sky, once a well-known and visited theme park in North Carolina, has been closed since 2016.
According to CBS affiliate WBTV, the park has been closed and reopened multiple times over the years.
In late August, the park announced their grand reopening would be next spring.
Reopening April 2019 Posted by Ghost Town in the Sky on Thursday, August 23, 2018
The former park covers 250 acres and is located about 150 miles northwest of Charlotte in Maggie Valley. WBTV says it is something of an internationally known location among people who seek out "forbidden" and "forgotten" sites.
Other sources say that the park's new owners have a 5-year plan on renovations and expansion; however, the park plans on maintaining the Wild West theme, WBTV reported.
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There’s an abandoned resort ghost town in the Smokies—here’s how to find it
The dilapidated buildings have an eerie, summer camp vibe to them
By Anna Hider
The National Park Service established the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1934. But the park’s rich history and culture were brewing in the hills long before that. You can still experience that special past for yourself. The park’s largest campground, Elkmont , is mere steps away from a ghost town, where you can explore the remains of a logging community and two turn-of-the-century-era resorts.
This world-class resort community turned ghost town in the Smokies might not look like much now, but it’s where the massive tourism industry in the area got its humble start—and where the movement to create the park was born.
Elkmont’s early days
The first settlers arrived in Elkmont in the mid-1800s. They were homesteaders, hunters, and small-scale loggers, and they formed a community along the Little River. Logging would eventually grow to be a huge industry in town. Lumber from ash, poplar, cherry, and hemlock trees was sent down the river to Knoxville to be processed. Elkmont proper was formally established in 1907.
Before that, in 1905, a local named Levi Trentham (you can still see his 1845-era cabin today, it was just restored) started selling tracts of land to a businessman named W. B. Townsend. Townsend established the Little River Lumber Company, which took the local logging industry to a massive new level. The nearby settlement of Townsend is named for W.B. He established the town when he built his band sawmill there.
Eventually, the Little River Lumber Company built a railroad to transport logs along the rough, 18-mile route between Elkmont and Townsend. Its tracks were soon extended to reach Knoxville.
By 1907, Elkmont was a full-blown town with a post office, a schoolhouse, a hotel, a general goods store, a Baptist church, and a number of homes. The homes, known as “set-off houses,” were cheap, pre-made buildings that could roll right off the train and be moved from time to time to follow the logging areas.
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Soon, Elkmont was the second-largest town in the whole county. Residents worked for the Little River Lumber Company six days a week, and spent their Sundays at church. Popular pastimes included fishing, visiting Townsend, or taking in a game from the local baseball team, organized by W.B. Townsend.
Tourism in Elkmont
The tourism industry in Elkmont started small, with an open-air observation car on the back of the logging train. In 1909, tourists could take the two-and-a-half-hour ride from Knoxville to Elkmont for $1.95 each way. Even a gruesome 1909 train accident on the route from Elkmont to Townsend attracted tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of the wreckage.
In 1910, the Little River Lumber Company sold 50 acres of land to the Appalachian Club. This was a social club of businessmen from Knoxville, and Townsend was a member and investor. The Club built a hotel and sold cottages and cabins to members.
The Appalachian Club wasn’t the only exclusive resort to open in the area; by 1912, a man named Charles B. Carter bought 65 acres from the lumber company to build the Wonderland Club (very appropriate name, if you ask me). The 1910s and 1920s were the golden years for the clubs. The Appalachian Club hosted parties, weekly dances with live music, and even dammed the river to make a swimming hole. Guests loved to play horseshoes as well.
As tourism took off, the logging industry started to wind down. By 1920, the logging company had pretty thoroughly picked over the forests around Elkmont. In 1925, the company dismantled the railroad, and in 1926, they ceased logging in Elkmont entirely, looking for lumber in other parts of what is now the park. This when Elkmont started to rot away into a mere ghost town in the Smokies.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
One of the pioneers dedicated to establishing the Smokies as a national park was a founder of the Appalachian Club, Colonel David Chapman. He summered in a cabin given to him—the Chapman-Byers Cabin, which is now located along the Jakes Creek Trail.
Chapman was a leader of the Great Smoky Mountains Conservation Association, established in 1923 by the Knoxville Automobile Club and the local chamber of commerce. He actually hosted legislators at Elkmont to sell them on the park. His plan worked like a charm, and the association set to work acquiring land to donate for the park. By 1934, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was made official.
The park is made up mostly of what were once individual properties acquired by the states of North Carolina and Tennessee. These included cabins owned by Appalachian and Wonderland Club members, along with locals. Some outright sold their cabins and moved. The bill establishing the park actually exempted Elkmont from eminent domain. That is how some residents negotiated leases which lasted anywhere from a few years to a lifetime.
Throughout the 1930s, the Wonderland and Appalachian Clubs continued to operate. In 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) moved into Elkmont, now a shadow of its former self. Two-hundred members of the New Deal organization worked to develop infrastructure and facilities in the new park. The CCC camp closed in 1936.
The ghost town in the Smokies
The clubs stayed open, even after WWII. The Appalachian Club slowly died off, and by 1950, no events were being held in the clubhouse. In the 1930s, the Wonderland Club turned into a more traditional hotel rather than a club. It continued to host lively parties, but also kept a retro, rustic vibe. Even when it closed in 1992, it didn’t have TVs or telephones in the rooms.
The NPS developed the Elkmont Campground in the late ’50s and early ’60s. While most Elkmont residents’ leases expired in 1992, the last resident didn’t leave Elkmont until 2001. Originally, the park’s plan was to demolish everything, but in 1994, the National Register of Historic places added Elkmont to its list. This forced the NPS to develop a plan to preserve the remains that were in good condition.
In all, the NPS will preserve 19 buildings, including all 17 cabins and the lodge from the Appalachian club, as the Elkmont Historic District . The goal is for all the cabins to be restored by 2025, and to use them to display museum exhibits. The Wonderland Hotel’s main building collapsed in 2005. There’s a sign denoting where it once stood.
The structurally unsound, demolished buildings haven’t been entirely erased from memory. You can still see stone chimneys, walls, fences, foundations, and other remains along the Little River Trail and Jakes Creek Trail. Even though Elkmont is now a ghost town in the Smokies, you can still feel the almost summer camp- esque vibes at the campground today.
Now is a perfect time to visit. Even though only a handful of the cabins (mostly the newer ones at this point) have been fully restored as of early 2019, the ones you can go into have been lovingly preserved. But, there are still enough “No Trespassing” signs around that you get that eerie, ghost town feel . It’s not hard to see why it was so difficult for residents to give up their homes in this town. The setting is divine. It’s tucked away in the woods just off the main road, with little streams on either side. And, of course, you can enjoy a more modern take on Smokies tourism at Elkmont’s over-the-top predecessors: Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge . In a weird way, every single massive dinner show theater, go-kart/mini golf/arcade thing, and pancake palace has humble little Elkmont to thank.
For more information on the history of Elkmont, check out this awesome, interactive map and timeline from the NPS.
A version of this story was first published on March 26, 2018.
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I explored an abandoned resort town in the Great Smoky Mountains where wealthy city dwellers vacationed 100 years ago. Take a look around.
- There's a resort town in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that was abandoned in the late 1900s.
- The National Parks Service began restoring the ghost town in 2009, and now it's open to the public.
- I visited the town, called Elkmont, and toured the insides of cabins built more than 100 years ago.
Hidden in the lush woods of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a once-abandoned resort town known as Elkmont is full of 100-year-old cabins.
Source: National Parks Service
I recently visited and was amazed to find that 16 cabins preserved and restored by the National Parks Service were open for public viewing.
When I made plans to visit the historic district, I expected to wander outside of cabins and see their facades, so I was excited to find I was actually able to step inside them for a more intimate look at what life was like 100 years ago.
Elkmont Historic District is in a valley on the northern border of the park just south of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
I traveled to the town by taxi. Drivers can take the US-411 from Gatlinburg and turn at the "Elkmont Campground" sign, according to Visit My Smokies, a tourism site run by Sevier County. From there, take a left at the sign that says "Elkmont Nature Trail."
Source: Visit My Smokies
When I arrived in Elkmont, I learned about the land's rich history through on-site information provided by the NPS.
According to the site's historical markers, the land was used for farming in the 1800s. Then a railroad was built in the 20th century, bringing loggers and tourists to the area. This led to the establishment of a resort town.
About 100 years ago, wealthy Tennessee travelers took the train to the resort community to escape hot summers in cities and find "harmony with nature," according to the same source.
Families spent their summers relaxing on the porches of their vacation cabins and playing outdoors, one NPS marker said.
The resort town diminished after the National Parks Service bought the land in 1934. Residents had the option of selling their cabins for full price or at half-price with a lifetime lease, according to Visit My Smokies.
In 1992, the NPS stopped renewing leases and the abandoned cabins deteriorated, turning the once-booming resort community into a ghost town.
In 2009, the NPS announced plans to preserve Elkmont's historic buildings, Knox News reported. From there, volunteers removed trees, repaired roofs and ceilings, and added insulation to the cabins.
Sources: National Parks Service , Knox News
During my visit, I explored the insides of all 16 cabins lining the pedestrian street.
Source: 10 News
The oldest cabin in town was built in 1830 and then moved in 1932 to serve as a guest house in the resort community, according to NPS on-site information.
The one-story building stood out to me because I thought it looked older than the rest with a distressed, wooden facade that remained unpainted.
Inside, there was a single, large room with nothing but a stone fireplace.
In fact, all the cabins were free of furniture, but I thought details like built-in kitchen counters and cabinets gave them a sense of a past life.
Looking out the windows of these historic cabins, I thought about what it would have been like to vacation here a century ago.
I pictured waking up to natural views with no agenda. I thought it seemed like the ideal getaway for city dwellers like me.
From the front porches, I pictured kids running around while waving to other families outside of their cabins.
On my way out of Elkmont, I noticed a handful of families wandering the street. This made me think that the site is no longer the ghost town it once was.
I left Elkmont with a sense of what the once-abandoned resort community was like and felt grateful for the preservation crew that made it possible for me to visit.
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Ghost Town in the Sky
Information on this page was written in 2012 and remains here for historical purposes.
North Carolina Smoky Mountains Headquarters for Fun!
Ghost Town in the Sky opened for business in 1961. It was the brainchild of RB Coburn who had recently spend some time in the South West and he really enjoyed the ghost towns that he toured while he was there. He came back to Western North Carolina and with the help of some investors he purchased Buck Mountain and in a little over a year, Ghost Town in the Sky was open for business. With a wild west theme, Ghost Town in the Sky had 40 replica buildings, shows, and eventually rides as well. 41 years and millions of visitors later, Ghost Town in the Sky was forced to close its doors in 2002. It was reopened from 2006 until 2009 when it closed again. In the spring of 2012, Alaska Presley, one of the original investors from the 60s, purchased the park and reopened it to the public. Ghost Town in the Sky is once again an attraction in the Smokies and the plan is to open new phases of the park over the next few years.
Located right on the main drag in Maggie Valley, Ghost Town in the Sky is not hard to find. When you arrive, you park at the base of Buck Mountain and ride the incline railroad to the top. With this theme park being revitalized, people from all over the country are going to be able to have the same experience that people had for 40+ years in the Smokies: a trip to the Wild West in the shadows of the Smoky Mountains.
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Elkmont Ghost Town
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- (9.69 km) PawPaw's Catfish Kitchen