Last winter the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center unveiled their newest holiday tradition with the Smoky Junction Model Train Exhibit, and since that time, the members of the Maryville Model Railroad Club have been painstakingly busy in their workshops adding intricate details and design elements to the displays.
“We have added so many great new things to discover and cannot wait for folks to see all that we have created!” said Allan Gartner, Club President. Everyone, including our spouses, has been getting into the work.”
“Getting to see the reactions on the children’s and parents’ faces last year made the all the work and planning well worth it,” said Logan Hull, Director of Special Events at the Heritage Center. “It truly felt like the holidays! The members of the MMRC put so many hours into the preparation and presentation of the exhibit, we couldn’t be happier with our partnership!”
The unique history of the region served as the inspiration behind this seasonal event, and the lumber industry was a key reason for the several communities in Blount County. In the early 19th century, The Little River Lumber Company started hauling lumber out of what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This lumber and the various products related to logging were vital to the community and surrounding areas and were shipped across the country to places like Chicago and many other major cities. After the founding of the National Park, it was the Citizen Conservation Corps (CCC) who was able to utilize these now unused railroad beds and turn them into the hiking trails we know and love throughout the Smokies.
After a successful first year, there have been several new additions to the exhibit for this holiday season. One of the new models to see is a replica of the Little River Sawmill that was once located along the Little River in Townsend. More than 90 hours, all volunteered by the MMRC, have been put into this one piece, and it will be completed right before the exhibit opens to the public on Friday, November 8th. The history of the locomotives and lumber in East Tennessee is in H/O scale, which is 1:87, which makes an H/O scale hotel the size of a loaf of bread. With some of the buildings having more than 1,600 parts, the tedious attention to detail is shown in the final product.
Another new addition for 2019 is the Smoky Junction Train Discovery Zone for kids. The Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center is offering the chance to be creative and enjoy family time with your kids in our brand new, hands-on Train Discovery Zone. Bring out your junior engineers and conductors, as well as your own inner child, to create, design, and build your very own train landscape. The Heritage Center will supply the track, trains, and toys, and you supply the imagination. Complete with multiple building tables, lots of track, trains, and wooden building logs to create your very own miniature village, everyone in your family will be sure to bring out the curiosity and creativity in all generations. The Smoky Junction Train Discovery Zone is sponsored by Blount Partnership.
The Smoky Junction Model Train Exhibit and the kids’ Train Discovery Zone will be chugging along on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from November 9th through January 5th. Admission to the exhibit is included in museum admission ($8 adults, $6 seniors and children ages 6-18). It can also be purchased separately for only $4 for ages 6 and up. The experience is free to the members of the Heritage Center. Each day that the trains are running a knowledgeable member of the MMRC will be on-site to answer questions and to show how they operate the trains.
Smoky Junction Model Train Exhibit is made possible by the generous support of our sponsors: Blount Partnership, East Tennessee Foundation, Richardson Construction, and Herb Handley.
The Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, which opened in 2006, preserves, interprets, and shares the history and culture of the diverse peoples and Native Americans who have inhabited the Southern Appalachians, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and offers exhibitions and programs for educational and cultural enrichment. It is a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Located on the “Quiet side of the Smokies” in Townsend, Blount County, the Heritage Center offers gallery exhibits, educational programs, demonstrations, and festivals that guide you on an historic journey through time to visit the diverse cultures of Townsend and Tuckaleechee Cove.
For more information, call the Heritage Center at 865-448-0044 or visit www.gsmheritagecenter.org.