Boyds Creek Fall Driving Tour
Fall is perhaps the most beautiful time in the Smokies. While spectacular views can be found in some of the most popular scenic spots, sometimes the best views of all are on the roads less traveled. This year discover a delightful alternative route filled with scenic valleys, fertile river bottoms and plenty of history on The Boyd’s Creek Fall Driving Tour.
Traversing the rolling hills and fertile river bottoms where the Knoxville, Sevierville & Eastern Railroad (later called the Smoky Mountain Railroad) once ran, Boyd’s Creek is a historic farming community dating back to the American Revolution.
*Please remember, some points of interest on the self-guided fall driving tour are private. Please enjoy their history and the view from the comfort of your vehicle.
Begin your tour in historic downtown Sevierville. Enjoy quaint shops and eateries and make a stop at the Dolly Parton Statue located on the lawn of the iconic Sevier County Courthouse at 125 Court Avenue. Created by Jim Gray, the six-and-a-half-foot statue was erected to honor Sevierville native Dolly Parton, an internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter, instrumentalist, actress, author, and philanthropist.
Leave the courthouse traveling north on Court Avenue, at the traffic light turn left onto West Main Street, travel .5 miles and turn right onto Old Knoxville Highway. Continue .5 miles on where a beautiful white-frame Victorian house owned by Mrs. J.S. Eledge is located on the right. This house served as a temporary train station when the Knoxville, Sevierville & Eastern Railroad first arrived in Sevierville in 1910. Just beyond the Eledge house* is the Sevier County Fairgrounds where the Sevier County Fair is held annually in late summer. The site was originally Stokely Canning Factory.
Continue 1.2 miles to the traffic light at the junction of Old Knoxville Highway and Gists Creek Road. Located on the left is the state-of-the-art Sevierville Convention Center. The facility design addresses the specialized needs of competitive arts events, trade and retail shows and conventions. Spanning both sides of the road, Wilderness at the Smokies Waterpark Resort and Family Adventure Center is adjacent to the convention center.
In .3 miles the meticulously manicured grounds of Sevierville Golf Club come into view. The eye-catching course features two 18-hole championship courses. The Highlands is a par 70 that winds through the rolling hills, and fresh water ponds. The River, a par 72, plays along and across the Little Pigeon River. The club also offers 9- hole play which runs along the front side of the Highlands course.
Continue 2.3 miles to the entrance of Swann Plantation. Located on top of a hill with a view of the Little Pigeon River valley and the Smoky Mountains, the Murphy-Swan House was built for William C. Murphy, a Sevierville merchant, in 1883. The two-story structure is an example of an extremely rare tripartite-style dwelling built in the Victorian era. It is now a venue for weddings, receptions, and corporate events.
Travel .5 miles to Luretta United Methodist Church, which sits on a hilltop to the left. The Gothic Revival-style church was built on land donated by W.C. Murphy with materials salvaged from the Sevierville Southern Methodist Church when it was dismantled in 1893. The church was named after Murphy’s two wives, Lauretta and Lucy.
Located on the left .3 miles past the church is Oak Haven Resort and Spa, featuring luxury log cabin rentals and a luxurious mountain-top spa offering an array of health and beauty treatments.
Continue .3 miles and turn left onto Boyd’s Creek Highway (#338). Proceed .8 miles to Revilo Farm*, a large farm established by horse breeder Bob Catlett. Catlett was an associate of a vigilante group known as the White Caps who terrorized Sevier County in the late 1800s. Now owned by the Atchley family, the farm was named after Revilo Station, a stop on the Knoxville, Sevierville & Eastern Railroad line which was located on the property.
Turn right onto Hodges Ferry Road and travel .8 miles to Persephone’s Farm Retreat, nestled between 200-year old maple and pecan trees on the banks of the French Broad River. The French Broad watershed is home to the greatest Great Blue Herron population in the world. Down river from Persephone’s Farm Retreat, within sight of the property, is a Great Blue Herron rookery. Continue to the dead end of the road, turn around and enjoy beautiful views of the river while returning to the highway.
Back on Boyd’s Creek Highway, travel 1.1 miles where the Buckingham House*, reputedly the oldest brick house in Sevier County, is located at the end of a long drive on the south bank of the French Broad River. The historic home was built by Thomas Buckingham, first sheriff of Sevier County, and his brother Ephraim in 1795. The house overlooks the 300-acre Buckingham Island where John Sevier once hid out from Native Americans.
Located across the road is Island View School*, a favorite of artists and sightseers. Built in 1918 after a tornado destroyed the original school, the two-room school with a steeple is in the middle of a pasture. It closed in 1949.
In 2.0 miles, pull in the driveway on the right between Kirkside Mansion* and Rocky Springs Presbyterian Church. Constructed by A. N. Cardwell between 1899 and 1902, Kirkside is one of the finest examples of Victorian exuberance in Sevier County. An octagonal tower capped with a bell cast roof is a unique feature to the house. Cardwell donated one acre of his land for the construction of Rocky Springs Presbyterian Church. Organized in 1874, the church was built in 1890. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the first worship service was held in the summer of 1891.
Back on Boyd’s Creek Highway, travel .5 mile to Wheatlands Plantation*, located on the left. The federal style house stands at the corner of Boyd’s Creek Highway and Cedar Springs Valley Road. Built by John Chandler in 1824, the five-bay house, based on a central floor plan, is the focal point of what was once a 3,700-acre plantation that featured a mercantile store, a granary, a tannery, slave dwellings, and a distillery. When the Civil War ended in 1865, Chandler allowed former slaves to remain on the plantation and work for pay. These former slaves were eventually bequeathed land on the property that subsequently became known as Chandler’s Gap.
Travel .7 miles to the Battle of Boyd’s Creek Memorial, located beside the road on the right. The granite shaft marks the Revolutionary War Battle of Boyd’s Creek on December 16, 1780. General John Sevier and his command of East Tennessee pioneers defeated a large force of Cherokee Indians, who had attacked the settlers while his soldiers were away, engaged in the Battle of Kings Mountain.
Sit back and relax for 3.5 miles while driving thru the Oak City Community. Coming into view on the right is a little stone country church and adjacent cemetery. St. Paul Episcopal Church was originally Trundles Crossroads United Methodist Church, built in 1881 to replace an older house of worship. The cemetery next to the church contains a historic African-American section.
Continue 1.1 miles to Chilhowee Cemetery on the left. Looming in the background is majestic Chilhowee Mountain. Take an immediate left onto North Rogers Road, continue .5 miles, and make a sharp left onto Smothers Road which will lead you to the campus of The Kings Academy, formerly named Harrison-Chilhowee Baptist Academy. In 1880, residents in the community built a small log schoolhouse which they named Boyd’s Creek Academy. Today, the campus has grown to 67 acres and boasts 10 stately buildings and impressive athletic facilities.
After touring the campus, backtrack to Boyd’s Creek Highway and turn left. Go .5 miles to the junction with Chapman Highway (Highway #441) and turn left at the traffic light. Continue .9 miles where the Wade family barn* is located on the left. The barn is a waypoint on the Appalachian Quilt Trail. Built in the late 1800s, the rustic barn stands on what is left of the James M. Wade farm. The bear Caw pattern in red, white and blue is in honor of the black bears in the Smokies and the Wade family.
Return to Sevierville by traveling south on Chapman Highway. Continue 8.5 miles. Just before you cross Gists Creek, tell passengers to look over their shoulder on the right to see a “Rock City Barn".* At its zenith, this ingenious form of outdoor advertising urging motorists to visit Rock City could be viewed on the sides and rooftops of around 900 barns spread along twelve thousand miles of highways in nineteen states. Over 800 of those barns have disappeared.
Continue 1.2 miles to what locals sometimes call the Tarwater Stretch, a section cut thru the Tarwater Farm* when Chapman Highway was built. On the right is a fire pit that has been used for many years for making molasses, a tradition handed down from generation to generation. Millard Tarwater made molasses until shortly before his passing in 1982. A mule was used to grind the sorghum cane, making the juice, which was then cooked in a long rectangular metal lined pan with a wooden frame over the pit. The pure juice, nothing added, was cooked until thick. This old fashion type of molasses brought customers back year after year to buy the product as well as watch the process unfold. Today, the tradition is carried on by others.
Proceed .5 mile ahead and make a left into the parking lot of the My People Senior Center. Get out and stretch your legs on the walking trail that meanders through beautiful wetlands located behind the building.
Get back in the car and turn left. In one mile you will descend Jenkins Hill which offers a panoramic view of the City of Sevierville and the Smoky Mountains range in the distance.
Make a right onto Hardin Lane and the first left into the parking lot at Burchfiel Grove and Arboretum. Established by donations from the Norman Burchfiel Family, the Burchfiel Grove and Arboretum adds both beauty and everlasting educational opportunities for citizens of Sevierville and the many visitors to the area. This self-guided walking tour identifies 73 species of trees along the Little Pigeon River. A walk along the scenic river is a perfect way to end your tour.