Grant Project

Artist's Rendering of the future Museum Grounds and Exhibits


Project Photos: The Work Begins!

We began work on our TEA-21 Grant in May, 2003, on building our new outdoor exhibits, and restoring several major artifacts. The grant will provide over $85,000 in Federal funds, and will require that we raise about $25,000 in matching cash funds. See Fund Raising below.

The project will take about two years to complete, and consists of the following phases:

Site Preparation

Completion of the Highway 321 improvements through Townsend has left us with a fine new entrance, but our property needs fill dirt and grading before construction can begin on new track and exhibits. We have been able to obtain some of this fill over the last year from nearby projects, but will need to bring in more, then do compacting and grading. During this phase we will also grade and gravel a driveway and new visitor parking.

New Track

New track will be laid after grading the right of way and applying sub-ballast. Track laying is nearing completion. See the new Site Plan and our Project Photos Page to check on progress.

Log Loader

We have been most fortunate to locate a vintage American Hoist and Derrick Log Loader at the Texas Museum of Forestry. This steam powered loader dates to 1909 and is identical to the ones used here on the the Little River. Only a handful of these are still in existence, and it will be a major new artifact for our collection.

These loaders rode on rails atop flatcars, and could move from car to car as they were loaded. We'll put the loader on one of our flats, and it should be very impressive. See Log Loader

Water Tank

The former Walland community water tank has been donated to the museum, and we'll build a tower for the wooden tank and move it to our site. The tank will be high and give us a very visible place for a sign. We'll also add a spout and water gauge to give it a proper railroad look. See Water Tank

Setoff House

A few years ago the museum was presented with an original Little River setoff house. These camp cabins were carried on flatcars to logging camps and set off along the tracks, where loggers and their families lived. Laid out in a row, they were called "stringtowns." When the area was logged out, the houses were picked up, with all the furniture inside, and moved on up the mountain.

This house will be restored saving as much original fabric as possible, and will give visitors a glimpse of life in the camps. We will use this original as a pattern to produce more replicas which can be used for additional storage. See Setoff Houses

Passenger Platform

The railroad had a number of open air passenger platforms along the line, as at Sunshine, the Wonderland Hotel and the Appalachian Club. We will reconstruct the Sunshine platform and use it for some covered seating on the grounds, and as a protected place for interpretive signage. See Passenger Platforms

Pathways and Signage

When the heavy work is done on the grounds, we will construct new pathways through the exhibits. We have begun a new Commemorative Brick program to help raise funds and to provide for lasting tributes to the donors. We have begun the walkway from the steps at the Gift Shop. See the Brick Program

Shay Restoration

During its long history, Shay 2147 suffered some unfortunate modifications, most notably the substitution of an ill-fitting steel cab from some other locomotive. Today the cab floor, running boards and the cab itself need replacing, and a number of other parts have been removed. The drive train has been disconnected in order to move it around. Restoration will include repairing these problems and will give visitors a more accurate view of what this last existing Shay from the Little River really looked like. See Shay 2147

Caboose Restoration

Our vintage wooden caboose came to us from the Boy Scout Camp at Norris Dam, courtesy of Vulcan Materials. Until recently, we did not understand its historical significance, but we have identified it as an original L&N Class NE "Little Woody" caboose, converted from a boxcar about 1918. Its missing its cupola, windows and doors, and the interior presents dangers. We will restore it to good condition, and it should be a real hit with kids when we can reopen it to visitors. See Caboose

Frick Steam Engine

Portable steam engines were used in backwoods locations to power portable sawmills. We have photos of these in Cades Cove, Sugarlands and at Elkmont. Our Frick will be restored, and might even be able to run again. See Frick Steam Engine

Fund Raising

We need $25,000 in matching funds for this grant, and to accomplish all that is outlined above.

We are seeking donations through our Major Donor Program, our Commemorative Brick Program, and from special events such as our Whistle Over the Mountain program last year, and from the Little River Jam, a special musical program to held March 15 at the old Townsend High School Auditorium. This program will feature local musicians and a special presentation of the museum plans, directed to local residents, seeking to inform and seek support. Other programs will be scheduled for community outreach and education as well as fund raising.

Major Donor Program

We are seeking contributions from corporations and individuals in the $500 to $5000 range, for special permanent recognition at the museum. For donors of $5000 or more, cast bronze plaques will be placed on major artifacts, along with recognition of the donors on the interpretive signage for these exhibits.

We will also recognize significant contributions of services using similar plaques, for companies such as Vulcan Materials for moving the Shay and the Caboose, and for Cherokee Millwright for moving our flatcars from Alcoa.

Permanent wooden plaques with nameplates will be installed inside the museum for donors of $1000 or $500. We want to insure that these major contributors will be permanently and prominently recognized. These donations make the museum possible, and enable us to preserve the heritage of our community, and to share it with everyone, free of charge.

Commemorative Brick Program

Our Commemorative Brick Program is another way to contribute, both to matching funds for this grant, but also well into the future for museum operations and development. These engraved bricks will provide a permanent tribute as we build our pathways through the outdoor exhibits. Bricks may be ordered by check or credit card here on the website: see the Brick Program

Outreach Programs

We are in the process of developing presentations for local service clubs, schools and other organizations, and displays for libraries, schools and businesses which will bring the museum to the people. The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company is Blount County's only museum, and we view our role as a combination of preservation, interpretation and education. By improving community awareness of the museum, we hope to both educate and increase support for the preservation of our heritage.


Memberships provide basic sustenance to the museum, and cost only $21.47 per year. During this fund raising drive we are also encouraging people to consider Lifetime Memberships at $200. See Membership


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