Walland and the Tannery

It was at Walland, where the Little River finally broke out of the mountains, that the Little River Railroad began, in more ways than one. It was here in 1900 that John W. Fisher decided to build a tannery, and it was he who convinced W. B. Townsend and his Pennsylvania associates to come to the Smokies. Fisher needed tanbark, and Townsend needed timber, as the Pennsylvania holdings were logged out.

The Knoxville and Augusta Railway had built from Knoxville south to Maryville, but was disinclined to build east to Fisher's new site at Walland. Fisher and his backers built the branchline themselves, and later sold it to the K&A (which subsequently went to the Southern Railway).

Walland thus became the terminus of the Little River Railroad, which proceeded 8 miles to Townsend, and another 3 miles to the Forks. This, technically, was the full extent of the Little River Railroad, which as a common carrier had the right of eminent domain, and responsibility to the ICC. Beyond the Forks, the rails were property of the Little River Lumber Company, and known as the East Prong Railroad for the 15 miles to Elkmont.

The tannery was completed in June, 1902, operating until 1931 when it burned down, and consuming as many as 250 carloads of tanbark a year. The tannery was built across the river, and a covered bridge was built to cross it. A depot was constructed in the crotch of the spur, was has survived and has been moved to Townsend to house the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company museum.

5013TanbarkDepot.jpg (19746 bytes)             2143TrainWallandDepot.jpg (20997 bytes)             2812RailroadRiverTannery.jpg (12834 bytes)

Tanbark Car at Walland Depot                  Passenger Train at Depot                   View Railroad, River, Tannery

3206TanneryTurntable.jpg (14567 bytes)            4821BridgeTanneryNorth.jpg (14300 bytes)            4301TanneryBridgeFromHill.jpg (20699 bytes)

Tannery, Bridge and Turntable               View Bridge, Tannery, Walland                    Tannery Looking West

3205CoveredBridgeHorse.jpg (18501 bytes)                      3105CoveredBridgeBoys.jpg (18752 bytes)                     5002CoveredBridgeTrestle.jpg (17506 bytes)

Covered Bridge, Walland                     Boys with Peaveys, Bridge                   Covered Bridge, Trestle Approach

4808CoveredBridgeConstruct.jpg (15167 bytes)            4903WallandJctGonCab.jpg (20055 bytes)            5012CoveredBridgeFlood.jpg (20944 bytes)

Covered Bridge Construction                      Tannery Spur Before Depot                        Flood Waters at Bridge

 

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