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'Hidden' Smokies Town Not Actually Hidden

A viral news story about Elkmont gets debunked.

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Yesterday, the Internet pounced on a Huffington Post article (sourced from Roadtrippers, one of the site’s partner blogs) about hiker Jordan Liles ‘discovering’ a hidden 100-year-old ghost town within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The too-cool-to-be-true story went viral, prompting some breathless news coverage.

But as anyone who’s been to the Smokies can tell you, that area isn’t very secret or even difficult to find. Numerous commenters pointed out that the remains of the Wonderland Hotel—along with numerous other structures that predate the creation of the national park—are promoted on the National Park Service website. The buildings are only about a mile from the popular Elkmont campground.

The confusion, The Tennesseanpoints out, probably stems from Liles’s somewhat misleading use of the word ‘discover’ in the opening sequence of his travelogue video.

(Meanwhile, real discoveries are taking place elsewhere. Archaeologists announced Monday that they have uncovered the remains of a 1,300-year-old village in Arizona’s Petrified National Forest.)

Read more: The Tennessean