110-year old Smoky Mountain railroad tracks discovered during Sevierville construction

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The past being dug up in Sevierville. Contractors working on a facelift to downtown came across something that was 110 years old.

Contractors working on a facelift to downtown came across something that was 110 years old. / (City of Sevierville)

To figure out exactly what it was, they had to call the county’s historian who said he’s not surprised by what they found.

“The workers themselves might have been a little bit puzzled, but we knew,” said Caroll McMahan.

What they found were the old Smoky Mountain Railroad tracks. When rail service ended it cost more to dig it up, so they paved over it.

Joe Holloway has studied the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad since the 1970s.

“My father always pointed it out to us as we drove toward the mountains. There were still relicts, remnants of it visible,” said Holloway, train historian. “So it was important then, but what I think now is important is the folks who remember the railroad being here. It’s a nostalgic thing.”

For train historians, they’re digging up a rich part of Sevierville’s past.

The train tracks are being removed and will be placed in the historical building.

McMahan said to why the railroad didn’t make it in Sevierville was because it was late. He said it was late for nearly every stop and late as a means of travel.

“The railroad had finally made it to Sevierville in 1910, by that time the automobile had been invented. So as far as passenger service had been, they were just a little bit late in their timing,” he said.

For people who remember the railroad, they are very interested in what’s been found.

“They just love it because they remember riding the train, or their grandpa worked for the railroad. So it means something to people because it was kind of the small underdog,” said Holloway.

You can find out more about the Old Slow & Easy by visiting the Sevierville Visitors Center. The city has opened a display about the railroad, its history in Sevier County and some very unique items.

It’s free and open to the public.

You’ve probably passed by the train and never even knew it, it’s the train parked outside Dollywood’s visitors center on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Yup! That’s the old train that ran from Knoxville to Sevierville more than 100 years ago.

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