A Day Away By Mike Steely

My wife and I often take side trips on our way here and there and many of those driving adventures involve visiting ghost towns. You can visit these places and each is a good place to research, educate children on our history, or just roam through the remains.



The village of Concord, just south of Farragut on Fort Loudon Lake, was once Knox County’s second-largest town. Founded in 1854 it boomed as a shipping, ferry and commerce hub. The lake backed up into the town, taking out most of the downtown area.

Today there are a few businesses and churches and a post office there. Mostly the former boom town area is a residential area for the Knoxville and Farragut commuters. You can walk along Lake Ridge Drive and imagine what the little town looked like before the lake covered the rest of the place. Drive up the streets in Concord and you’ll find the historic Chota Masonic Lodge building.



Between Townsend and Gatlinburg, just off Little River Road and right on Elkmont Road, is the abandoned resort village of Elkmont. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park maintains the historic district that includes a campground and hosts the annual synchronous firefly event. Elkmont was founded in 1908 as a base camp for the Little River Logging Company. Lots were leased to wealthy families who built cottages there but all leases expired in 1992.

Many of the homes and buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places and some have been preserved. Today you can walk along the street between the houses and dream of having vacationed there.



Located between Loudon and Sweetwater, the town of Philadelphia was founded in 1822, making it one of the earliest towns in Tennessee. During the Civil War, it hosted a battle between Union and Confederate forces and became an important railroad stop. Served by a post office and overseen by a city government. Philadelphia is home to around 600 people. Nearby is Sweetwater Valley Farms, known for its locally made cheese.

Downtown Philadelphia has a church, two ancient water towers, a few buildings and an abandoned section that is camera-worthy. That section of town is well worth getting off Highway 11 and exploring.



The little community of Limestone, between Greeneville and Jonesboro, is not incorporated but was the home of Washington College, the first university ever to be named for President George Washington. The college, founded in 1780, is now Washington College Academy, a private educational facility.

Limestone was also the birthplace of Davy Crockett and is now the site of the David Crockett Birthplace State Park and campground.

What’s really worth seeing is the old abandoned downtown section just past the entrance to the state park, along Old State Route 34. The long line of empty buildings across the tracks is ghostly and creepy and the abandoned railroad depot caps the ghost town off. It is worth parking and walking along the old buildings.