In 1902, the L&N Railroad planned the first community on the direct route between Cincinnati to Atlanta at the base of the Cherokee National Forest. In 1906 the town of Etowah arose out of this woody region of east Tennessee. The first public building constructed was the L&N Depot which was to serve as the Atlanta Divisional Headquarters.
The two-story Victorian style building has unique woodwork throughout the structure including a decorative staircase leading to the upper floors. The 16-room depot was originally built at a cost of $200,000. In 1977, the city of Etowah purchased the depot and restored the building before opening it to the public.
Today, the L&N Depot houses a museum depicting “Growing Up With the L&N: Life and Times in a Railroad Town”, the offices of the Etowah Area Chamber of Commerce, and Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association. The building and grounds are often used for community holiday celebrations, festivals, exhibits, weddings, club and civic meetings, reunions, cultural events, and educational programs.
The L&N Depot also serves as the boarding and ticket facility for the Hiwassee River Rail Adventures train excursions which carry passengers up the Hiwassee River, through the Cherokee National Forest, over the Historic L&N “Loop” which is along with the L&N Depot are on the National Register of Historic Places. Some of the train rides continue on to the the historic copper mining town of Copperhill.