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Elkmont Papers and Photographs

 Collection
Identifier: MS-3924

Collection contains material related to the history and preservation of the town of Elkmont, Tennessee. Papers in the collection include correspondence and member rosters from the Appalachian Club, maps, newspaper articles, and advertisements for the Wonderland Hotel. Also included are photographic prints and negatives of the area.

The first folder, "Papers," includes correspondence from the Appalachian Club, member rosters, notices, maps, and advertisements for the Wonderland Hotel. The bulk of the papers are from the 1970s and 1980s, the years leading up to the expiration of property owners' leases and the ensuing fight to hold onto Elkmont properties. The second folder, “Articles and Brochures,” contains scans of newspaper articles from The Knoxville Journal and the Knoxville News-Sentinel advertising Elkmont's Wonderland Hotel and stories about the history of the town. Also included is an undated brochure advertising "The Beautiful Elkmont Country." The third folder, “Negatives,” contains undated photographic negatives of the people of Elkmont from the early twentieth century. The fourth and fifth folders, “Photographs” contain photographs of the Wonderland Hotel and various Elkmont cabins. Most are undated but were likely taken during the 1980s.

Dates

  • 1930 January 31-2014 August

Language of Materials

English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 24 hours is needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections at special@utk.edu.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.

Extent

0.25 Linear Feet (5 folders)

Overview

Collection contains material related to the history and preservation of the town of Elkmont, Tennessee. Papers in the collection include correspondence and member rosters from the Appalachian Club, maps, newspaper articles, and advertisements for the Wonderland Hotel. Also included are photographic prints and negatives of the area.

Biographical / Historical

The Little River Lumber Company established the town of Elkmont, Tennessee, in 1908 as a base for its logging operations in the area. By 1910, the company began selling plots of land to hunting and fishing enthusiasts from Knoxville, who established the "Appalachian Club" just south of the logging town. In 1912, the Wonderland Park Hotel was constructed on a hill overlooking Elkmont. A group of Knoxville businessmen purchased the Wonderland in 1919 and established the "Wonderland Club." Over the next two decades, the Appalachian Club and Wonderland Club evolved into elite vacation areas where East Tennessee's wealthy could gather and socialize.

Upon the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the 1930s, which encompassed Elkmont, most of Elkmont's cottage owners were given lifetime leases. These were converted to 20-year leases in 1952, and renewed in 1972. The National Park Service refused to renew the leases in 1992, and under the park's general management plan, the hotel and cottages were to be removed. In 1994, however, the Wonderland Hotel and several dozen of the Elkmont cottages were listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Elkmont Historic District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, sparking a 15-year debate over the fate of the historic structures. In 2009, the National Park Service announced plans to restore the Appalachian Clubhouse and 18 cottages and outbuildings in the Appalachian Club area (which were older and more historically significant) and remove all other structures, including the Wonderland Annex, as the main hotel had collapsed in 2005.

The Wonderland Hotel served as the only hotel operating within the Great Smoky National Park. The hotel consisted of 26 rooms, no two the same. There was no television or phone service provided for the visitors, but rather the hotel boasted a wraparound veranda with tables and rocking chairs as well as swings, in addition to a large common rooms and a dining room. The Wonderland Hotel served local style meals, family style, to its clients three times a day. Locally grown and hunted food was regularly featured on the menu and fish caught in the adjacent stream was frequently served. Recreation was found in the form of the nearby river and woods extending to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. When the twenty-year leases of the Appalachian Club expired in 1972, the members of the Wonderland Club joined with the Elkmont Preservation Association which received a new twenty-year lease. The Elkmont Preservation Association retained the right to operate the Wonderland Hotel. The Hotel served its last customers on November 15, 1992. Over the following years, portion of the hotel was lost to fire or collapse due to disrepair. By 2005, the rest of the hotel had collapsed and the National Park Service contracted for the remnants to be dismantled. The historically significant pieces of the hotel (doors, keys, windows and frames) were set aside for preservation.

Arrangement

This material is arranged into five folders.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

Contact:
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA
865-974-4480