The Etowah Historical Commission has been awarded a USDA Rural Development Grant for improvements to the Historic Etowah Depot in Etowah, Tn. USDA RD funds in the amount of $54,800 will be used to support the development of new interpretive exhibits throughout the Depot and to upgrade the downstairs restrooms to meet federal ADA criteria.
New exhibits that focus on the history of Etowah and its links to the Louisville and Nashville Railroad will be developed for the downstairs rooms in the Depot as well as one room on the second floor. Additionally, the downstairs restrooms will be modified to meet ADA criteria while conforming to historic preservation standards as well.
Etowah Mayor Gene Keller expressed his gratitude to USDA Rural Development. Mayor Keller said, “The Etowah Depot is the centerpiece of Etowah. It serves as a museum, visitor center, festival venue, and home to the Hiwassee River Rail Adventure. The city of Etowah appreciates the support from USDA Rural Development and looks forward to working with the Etowah Historical Commission to complete the project this grant is supporting.”
Jim Caldwell, Etowah Historical Commission chairman, said, “We are excited to begin work to improve the museum’s interpretation, expand its educational outreach, and enhance the experience for residents and visitors who enjoy coming to the Depot. We are grateful to USDA Rural Development for their assistance with this very exciting project and we appreciate the cooperation we receive from the city of Etowah.”
The Etowah Depot was built in 1906 by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad to serve as a passenger station and Atlanta Division Headquarters for the L&N System. The L&N also built a large railroad center and designed a planned community for workers at the same time. The city of Etowah purchased the Depot in 1978 and spent three years painstakingly restoring it. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. After three years of intensive work to restore the building, the Etowah Depot was opened the public in 1981. Over 40,000 people a year visit the Etowah Depot, making it an important tourist attraction for the area, as well as a museum and historic site.
Paul Barnett, Etowah Historical Commission member, said, “This project will involve a great deal of volunteer work. Fortunately, we have committed commission members and productive partners to help us complete the task.”
The Etowah Historical Commission was created by the city of Etowah in 1978 to raise funds for acquisition of the Depot and to oversee the initial restoration. The organization’s current mission is to preserve and share the history of Etowah through preservation of the Etowah Depot, educational programs for the public, advocacy, and collaboration with other organizations and the city of Etowah to achieve shared community objectives.