I wasn’t born in Townsend, but I got here as quick as I could.

A Love Story by Hank Dye

Townsend Resident Since 2011. Retired.

Shortly after I moved permanently to Townsend seven years ago, I saw those words on a bumper sticker in the library parking lot. I immediately claimed them for my own because it did then and still does sum up my feelings for my adopted home place.

It’s the perfect line for us newcomers. It acknowledges that we aren’t from around here, but lets everyone know we recognize what we’ve been missing. You don’t have to be here long to realize you wish had gotten here sooner and that you are not likely to be in a hurry to leave.

I mean, what’s not to like. We just have one stop light, but turns out that’s plenty. We’ve got one honest to goodness real grocery store, but there are three gas stations that carry a full line of groceries. We’ve got a shiny new Ace Hardware with all the amenities and a lot of smiling people in red vests. It has an A-Plus coffee house with free wi-fi next door and an outdoor fire pit for self-proclaimed loafers.

By way of contrast, on the other end of town is the venerable old Townsend Shopping Center that has everything I’ve ever needed in the way of screws, nails and pocket knives—plus groceries and gas. And a random collection of shady sitting places for daily political discussions.

And one of those grocery selling service stations is famous for destination hot dogs—more than a million served, they say—that come smothered in cole slaw, chili, cheese or onions. Your choice. But no sauerkraut. They say sauerkraut smells up the place. Like the onions and chili don’t?

We’ve got at least one each of every brand of church and two or three of some. We’ve even got a former wedding chapel that’s been turned into a fine beer garden. And that raises the beer garden count to two.
When it comes to artisan crafts and celebrations, we have a festival for every occasion including some exceptional fiber arts, a hot air balloon festival, special days for pioneers and old timers and plenty more. And nobody carves better looking bears than Gene Webb and nobody carves a stranger variety of stuff than Captain Dave.

Our town is made safer by a local force of four policemen and a fleet of patrol vehicles that includes a really cool stealth pickup truck. You’ll understand the stealth part when you see it. They do take a dim view of speeding down 321 where the limit is clearly and frequently posted as 45. If you’re here for more than a few days, you learn pretty quickly where to look for the radar. Just another bit of helpful consistency you can count on around here.

If you are one of those people who just has to have the flashing lights, pan cake houses and crowded sidewalks, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are just a short drive away. Nice places to visit, but maybe you should stay on the Peaceful Side and come and go as you like. It’s not like we don’t have plenty of fine places to lay your head—from luxury cabins to mom and pop’s finest lodges to campgrounds by the river.

When it comes to world class relaxation, not a lot happens around here after about 8:00 at night. Unless you count the crickets, katydids and occasional passing pack of coyotes as music makers and maybe the unimpeded view of a zillion stars overhead as a light show.

We’re the gateway to Cade’s Cove—just a short drive away with dozens of hiking trails and favorite fly fishing stops on the way.We’re rich in history from railroads and lumber mills to Native American traditions and hardy homesteaders—all combining to make us a place of unique hospitality, good neighbor friendliness and a ready welcome.

No matter where you’re from, or how long it took you to get here, life is good in Townsend.

You should come as soon as you can.