When I was growing up I heard about a train that wrecked on Clingmans Dome and rolled down the mountain. Apparently the engine is in this spot because the driver was drunk and ran off the rails in the 1920s. It rolled down the mountain and landed in the spot it sits in today.
It is said to be a Nichols and Shepard self-propelled, steam-powered machine, also known as a traction engine. The machine was used to power a lumber saw back in the 1920s to saw wood for the Greenbrier School. During its return trip, the driver couldn’t execute a switchback, and the engine rolled down the mountainside and into the creek below. The steam engine still sits in the same spot of the creek today. The engine sits in Injun Creek, which actually got its name from the steam engine. The creek is called “Injun” Creek because of a mapmaker who misspelled the word
Of course that was a definate legend to chase! So, a few years ago I found that it was a MYTH. Here is the story as I know it. Before 1926 the Norwood Lumber Company clear-cut basically the south side of Clingmans Dome. There is a lot of evidence remaining. Many RailRoad grades, skidder trails, rails, coal, etc. are all over the mountain. The “train” that is below the Dome is actually a boiler which produced steam to operate a winch to pull logs up the mountain to train cars. If you have been to the massive piece of metal it is lying in its side.
The old steam engine can be found along the Grapeyard Ridge Trail
in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. From the Clingmans Dome parking area take the Grapeyard Ridge Trail
toward Andrews Bald. Turn right onto Forney Creek Trail. Go about a 1/4 mile and look for a crain on the right. The old RR grade is pretty obvious. Turn right off Forney Creek trail onto the grade. You will see rails, coal, etc and then will come upon the boiler. So, its a MYTH….a train did not wreck on Clingmans Dome! HOWEVER there is a boiler there!
The hike to the steam engine and back is about 5.8 miles. At 2.85 miles, you’ll reach the top of an incline. Once you make your way down the hill, you’ll see the old wreck and steam engine.
To get to the Grapeyard Ridge Trail, you’ll turn to travel eastbound on Hwy 321 at Traffic Light 3 in Gatlinburg. After driving about 6 miles, turn right into Greenbrier. From the highway, it’s a 3 mile drive to the trailhead. You’ll find a small parking area on the side of the road.
Grapeyard Ridge Trail is considered a relatively moderate trail, so you don’t have to worry about it being too challenging! However, there are a couple inclines along the hike. From the trailhead, the trail gains about 270 feet in elevation in only two-thirds of a mile before you’ll begin a small descent to Rhododendron Creek. You’ll want to be sure to wear waterproof shoes for this hike,
because the trail crosses Rhododendron Creek a total of 5 times on the way to the steam engine. If you’re hoping not to get your feet wet, the summer and fall are the best times to do this hike when high water due to rainfall isn’t as big of an issue. Along the hike, you’ll pass several old homestead sites before climbing the ridge to James Gap. The trail passes through long rhododendron tunnels, and once you reach the top, you’ll make a short descent to Injun Creek, where you’ll see the steam engine. The steam engine is the turnaround point for this hike.
with excerps from VisitmySmokies.com and reposted here