Childhood In Townsend
I grew up in Townsend and yes, it is quiet. Quiet. This is the word that repeats in my head as I try to recall my childhood. Much like the Little River which winds its way through my little town, life moved slow and deliberately. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized my childhood experience was not universal.
As a child, I was proud of my hometown, and I still am to this day. It is a bastion of peace and community in an otherwise chaotic and conflicted world. Being raised in Townsend fostered a mindfulness to the things around me whether it be the nature before me, the neighbors beside me, or the history behind me.
Life As A Child In The Smoky Mountains
As a child growing up at the doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I learned to love nature. There is an endless amount of flora and fauna to discover, trees to climb, and fish to catch. On any given day during the summer you could find a 9-year-old me with a pair of goggles, a net, and my face down in the river flipping over rocks on the bed of the river and collecting anything I could that crawled or swam out.
There was always something new in the woods or the river for me to uncover as I grew up learning that I lived next to the most bio-diverse national park in America. I was able to see firsthand how every species has a part to play in this complex ecosystem and just how delicate that system is.
Mountain Living In Townsend, Tennessee
I fell in love with the majesty of the mountains and the secrets they held within. Birds of all colors and sizes sang their songs in a natural chorus, and alien-like salamanders gathered underneath the rocks of mountain brooks garnering a name for their home in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as ‘the Salamander Capital of the World’.
I was never bored when there were so many natural wonders around me. Driving up to the Foothills Parkway or taking a picnic and playing whiffle ball with my family in Cades Cove, just 20 minutes away, supplied me with heartfelt memories that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. One of my favorite things to do was just to float lazily down the Little River on an innertube and cool off from the summer heat.
Townsend A Community and Family
Townsend is a tight knit community where people know each other, and you wouldn’t make it one mile down Hwy 321 without passing someone you know on the Bike Trail or in one of the local joints. In Townsend, we smile and wave to those we pass because it’s what we do; what is the point of rushing around with your eyes to the ground if you miss the little moments of human connection along life’s journey? I will take the lessons that I have learned from my childhood in Townsend everywhere I go.
Townsend was established and is still maintained by hard working individuals. From the logging and railroad operations that started Townsend to the small business owners like my parents and grandparents, folks worked then and now, tirelessly, pouring all of their heart and soul into the services and products that they provide. There are no superstores in Townsend, and most people want it to stay that way.
Attractions In Townsend
That’s not to say Townsend has nothing. Townsend is bustling with shops, museums, restaurants and things to do, especially in the summer, which translates to summer jobs for kids growing up needing a job before school starts again, and for that I am thankful. Remember, Townsend is a Gateway Community to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the nearest entrance to Cades Cove. It is not a highly commercialized community and is still called the ‘peaceful side of the Smokies!’
When you visit Townsend you will soon notice that the people in Townsend pride themselves in what they call “good ole fashioned southern hospitality.” This hospitality is noticeable when securing the accommodations you want while staying here, and in the restaurants that you choose when you are hungry.
Family Business and Pride
We don’t have a McDonald’s or other chain restaurants, but we have locally owned and operated restaurants bursting with the kind of atmosphere and dedication that you would expect from a small southern town. Sure, we have the classic country-style restaurants, but we also have Italian, Mexican, BBQ, a burger joint, a steakhouse and many other options to choose from including the Parkway Grocery that is famous for its Hot Dogs, served daily in their deli with chili and the best slaw you ever have eaten!
Here’s a tip from a local: order to go and take your meal up to the park for an impromptu picnic (just don’t feed the bears)!
Townsend is a place for all ages with an emphasis on natural tourism and the outdoors. Take a trip down the Little River through one of our tubing businesses, or take a hike on one of our many scenic trails through the mountains. If you don’t want to walk the trails yourself, consider hopping on a horse and letting them do the walking through the woods at Davy Crockett Stables or Cades Cove Riding Stables. Fishing is another activity popular among locals and tourists alike. Businesses like R & R Fly Fishing can guide you exactly where you should go to make sure you see plenty of action.
I grew up with a great emphasis put on the history of the area. Around here, family is important, and we can trace our lineage back a couple hundred years. There are plenty of sites around Townsend that allow you to step back into the life of a settler living here when the logging company first came through.
I was one of those rare kids that actually enjoyed history, and going to places like the Little River Railroad Museum fostered that love. The technology was unlike anything I was used to growing up in the digital age, and I appreciated being able to see all these artifacts and how they operated in working condition. History was always alive and well for me as a kid growing up in this town.
Rich History In Townsend
I remember growing up in Townsend with such a strong sense of belonging. The history of my family name meant that my blood had been in this area for over a century. Those doors are not closed to newcomers either. For many, Townsend was a destination where they vacationed as a child and later planted their flag and decided to raise their family. In this small community, you can really make a name for yourself.
There are plenty of positions to be filled within the town, and if you work hard and with a kind and generous heart, your name might be remembered here for generations to come. This for me is truly the penultimate reason why growing up in Townsend has been so impactful. In Townsend, I don’t have to strive tirelessly to find a sense of purpose and belonging. No, in Townsend I make a life for myself.
In Townsend I feel needed and feel helpful, and can be a part of something much bigger than myself. I’m not a number. I’m not a face in the crowd. I belong. I am thankful to have been raised in Townsend, and to have an opportunity to live here and work at the family business.