Tennessee's Hwy 321 now the 'Great Smoky Mountains Byway'

5:38 AM, Mar 23, 2011   |    comments
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Organizers in East Tennessee are trying to make Highway 321 like Route 66: a historic, scenic road that will draw visitors from all across the country.

Just this past fall, Highway 321 was named the "Great Smoky Mountains Byway."

Organizers say they hope with this new name, will come new travelers.

The newly named byway stretches through seven counties from Loudon to Carter County.

Representatives from all seven counties have been working on a way to take the 200 mile route, and make it one of the most active, vibrant, heritage tourism destinations in the nation.

Clayton Pangle with the Loudon County Visitor's Bureau said, "We think of this as a Gateway to Yellowstone. The Yellowstone of the East, almost."

Pangle says organizers want to use the byway as a way to strengthen local economies.

"Travelers are internet savy. So, we want to capitalize on this designation," said Pangle.

Vicki Simms with the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce said, "We have a lot of cultural and historical things that, number one, we need to look to preserve."

Simms says she hopes to highlight Highway 321 for all that is local and make it like Route 66.

"We hope to achieve the same status for the Great Smoky Mountains Byway," said Simms.

Organizers say in 2011, expect to see the new name on new big signs. Also, expect a new website, and maps showcasing historic and meaningful locations on the 321 route.

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