Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Salvage Work to Begin in Elkmont

The Wonderland Hotel in the historic area of Elkmont in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park as about to undergo a $65,419 Salvage job on November 1st to preserve all of the historically treasures that remain in the ruins of the hotel.

The Wonderland Hotel collapsed in fall 2005 and many other buildings remain in a similar state of disrepair in the Elkmont area of the Smoky Mountain National Park. In order to salvage any building materials and fixtures that are historically significantly such as Doors, windows, bathtubs, hardware such as door handles, etc, the entire hotel much be carefully dismantled.

The company brought in do the salvage work is the Moran Construction of Abingdon Virginia who will separate the historical material for preservation have the non significant material removed for disposal outside of the national park. Material that is going to be preserved will be moved to at the Department of Energy's Office of Scientificant and Technical Information Storage facility in Oak whois is where the Park's archival storage area is located.

The work slated to start November 1st and to be finished by December 8th 2006 should have no impact on the campgrounds, hiking trails and any of the other public use areas in Elkmont. Since the work is to be performed mostly by hand, excessive noise should not be a significant issue but in the interest of public safety, the hotel are will be closed off to visitors while the work is in progress.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is conducting a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in regard to the remains buildings which should be published by March of 2007.

The more than 70 remaining buildings left in the Elkmont district of the National Park have been a controversy for quite some time. While the park services job is to preserve the natural environment as well a preserve historical artifacts, many of the campers, hikers and local residents whom I have personally interviewed did not feel as though many of the buildings did not have any real historical significance.

The Ogles Cabin in winter in the Roaring Fork
Ogles hsitorical cabin in Roaring Fork TN

When compared to historical significance of the buildings located in Cades Cove, Roaring Fork, and Cataloochee, many of the buildings in Elkmont - especially those that are a crumbling or a pile of rubble - can't measure up the workmanship, historical significance or beauty. When as I felt tat the buildings in Elkmont held limited value, I do realize that the park is not just for the enjoyment and recreational use for the next 20, 50 or even hundreds of years but let's hope for hundreds of years. Even buildings that may not be as historically significant now will be in hundreds of years.

The real issue is money. The park service needs all the help it can get and even though great organizations such as Friends of the Smokies raise money and do volunteer work for the park, there is just not enough money and hands to do everything that needs to be done.

In my opinion if it is a question of persevering animal and plant habits or saving dilapidated poorly built cookie cutter summer cottages - the cottages go.

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