Sunday, November 11, 2018

Etowah, Tenneessee: A slice of Americana Pie

Originally written for the Yahoo Contributor Network:
Someone told Hubby about a century old L&N Railroad depot and museum in Etowah, Tennessee. That brief mention was all it took for him to gas the car, put it in gear. Before I knew it we were heading south from Knoxville on Hwy 411. Etowah is called the gateway to the Cherokee National Forest for good reason and is also known for its antique shops. This town off of the beaten path and all the better for it.

To help place the town, Etowah is about 30 minutes from Athens on Hwy. 30. It takes roughly 1.5 hours to get to the historic district from Knoxville.

Etowah isn't just a historic small town it's an old fashioned Main Street U.S.A. kind of place. Quaint shops make their homes in the historic buildings that line the main street. Wide sidewalks give visitors ample space to stroll or patronize the businesses.

People are friendly and wave at others as they pass. There are no strangers here. If there were it wouldn't matter. The next person to walk by would strike up a conversation. The two would part and be strangers no more. Etowah, TN is not flashy or particularly fancy. It's just homely. Maybe that's why I enjoyed my visit so much.

We drove about halfway through the historic district before arriving at the L&N Depot. It's on the left. You can't miss it. Just look for the red caboose out front. When you see it you will know that you have arrived.

Tourists can catch the scenic Hiwassee River Rail Adventure from the depot in Etowah. Park your cars in front of the Chamber of Commerce and take the short shuttle bus ride to the rail adventure. To ensure year round comfort the train cars are air conditioned and heated.

Part of the L&N Depot is a museum. The other half is occupied by the Etowah Chamber of Commerce. You already know which way Hubby went. I decided to visit the chamber.
The depot was built in 1906 and has an interesting history. It was once the heartbeat of a thriving pulsating town. People came and went on a clock work schedule. When the L&N Railroad pulled out the town slowly started to change. People moved away and others came in. The Etowah of today resembles little of the Etowah of the past.

Helping the town reach toward the future is the job of the Etowah Chamber of Commerce. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Durant Tullock. He's the executive director of the organization. More than that, he is a man who loves his town and the people who live here.

After our conversation I am convinced that if you want to know anything about the area all you have to do is ask. He is the type of enthusiastic, welcoming ambassador that every town needs. It only took a minute for him to give me the information that I wanted.

The Etowah Chamber of Commerce also has maps. He gave me one, plus one for Hubby and my daughter. I needed the map more than the brochures but forgot to ask. Good thing he thought to offer.
Etowah is considered to be an antique and bargain store mecca. Such shops run the full length of the town on Hwy. 411.

Plan to spend more than one afternoon perusing the shops. If you find something that you while you are in Etowah buy it. The item probably won't be there when you come back.

Across the street from the Etowah Chamber of Commerce is a row of historic buildings. That's where the pizza place, financial services and other shops are located. A tall memorial marker is in the front lawn of the train depot. Veterans Park honors our military veterans and stands as a patriotic tribute in this small town.

At the far end of the historic district is a music store. They buy, sell or trade music equipment. The mural hanging above the front door adds another homey town touch to Etowah. A bargain grocery outlet anchors the other end of the street.

There was a bicycle parked right outside the grocerydoor. It had the kickstand down but wasn't locked. The owner wasn't worried. Try doing that in a big city. Come to think of it. Trying taking a casual stroll in a big city.

Our trip to the L&N Depot and the Etowah Chamber of Commerce is only one of the many that we're planning. Several shops are calling my name. You may not be able to hear the shops calling yet but you will as you drive closer. Predictably, Hubby only hears the train whistle.

If you have the time take an afternoon and drive to Etowah, Tennessee. This town is a slice of Americana pie that is too good to pass up. Be prepared to want seconds.