Imagine this...a small town with railroad history and good food too...right across the tracks from each other! One of our summer drives took us to Cowan TN, a small town just east of I-24 in the south central part of the state.
We discovered the Cowan Railroad Museum, which is housed in the Depot built by the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railroad in 1904. The depot contains many nifty railroad artifacts plus a large model train layout.
The museum has 2 locomotives on display. There is a handsome Porter 2-4-2 Columbia type locomotive built in 1920. I just couldn't resist getting in the cab and playing engineer...
The second locomotive is a GE 44 ton switcher built for NC&SL in 1950. Significantly, this is the first locomotive to be radio equipped, (in 1962), so that an engineer wasn't required in the cab.
Check out the museum's website at http://www.cowanrailroadmuseum.org/.
This is a busy train watching location. Cowan is located very close to the Cumberland Mountain railroad tunnel. This tunnel, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was completed in 1850 and it's still in use today. CSX maintains pusher engines at Cowan to assist trains up the grade to the tunnel from either side of the mountain.
Right across from the Cowan Railroad Museum...in a great looking old building and with a full view of the busy CSX tracks...is Sernicola's Italian Restaurant. Sernicola's is a friendly place that serves good pizza, a selection of tasty Italian dishes and some local favorites. http://www.sernicolas.com/