This blog entry offers a behind-the-scenes look at “Joint Effort,” my 1988 painting of the Louisville & Nashville depot at Etowah, Tennessee. It’s April 1944 — as the local fireman tops off her tank in preparation for the daily switching chores, First No. 53 South struggles to lift her tonnage, bound for Atlanta, past the L&N depot in Etowah.
Etowah Depot History
In 1906, the Louisville & Nashville Railroad opened a depot and shop facility in a sleepy little town in southeast Tennessee called Etowah (Cherokee for “Muddy Waters”). When the construction was complete, the complex included a turntable, roundhouse, engine and car repair shops, passenger and freight depots, power plant and fourteen freight and five repair tracks. This was going to make Etowah the L&N Railroad’s division point between Corbin, Kentucky and Atlanta, Georgia on the new route to connect Chicago with Cincinnati, Ohio, Lexington, Kentucky & Knoxville, Tennessee.
The depot was the key building in the railroad complex and became the center of the business district. It housed the administrative as well as the passenger station for the community, and because of its architectural excellence was proclaimed the finest station between Knoxville and Atlanta.
In 1974, after 68 years of operation, the L&N closed the station, but by 1981, with the help of local civic groups and grants, the building was restored to its original grandeur and reopened, this time to let the public view what a grand part of Americana she once was. It currently houses the Etowah Chamber of Commerce and Cultural Arts Commission as well as a museum.
Take this opportunity to own an Open Edition or Decorator print of Tom Rock’s classic railroad painting, “Joint Effort.”
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