Etowah, Tenn., Great Vacation Getaway

April 27, 2013 in Editorials

Spring is in full swing with graduations, weddings, and vacation plans on the horizon. Many people hope to make the most of their travels this summer by selecting places that have lots to do, yet save on gas and travel. Southeast Tennessee offers numerous options with Etowah, Tenn., being a great choice.

Being a small rural town, you’ll be in awe of Etowah’s view of the mountains and it’s location places it a very short distance from the best fishing, rafting, canoeing, hiking and picnicing in the south. But, that’s not all! Etowah was established by the L & N Railroad when they purchased approximately 1,450 acres in 1902 to build a depot and railroad so they could by-pass the rough mountain terrain above the Hiwassee River gorge, known still today as the Historic Hiwassee Loop. The L & N railroad opened the Depot for business in 1906 and it is still in its same location, housing a very interesting free touring railroad museum called “Growing Up with the L & N”. It remains the central hub of downtown Etowah today, with many events taking place on the grounds.

Thousands walk through the depot museum each year, especially those who come to Etowah to enjoy the Hiwassee River Rail Adventure. The Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association (TOHA) is the host through the support of Glenn Springs Holdings, Inc. for these amazing rail excursions that take you through the Hiwassee River Gorge and up the mountain along the Historic Hiwassee Loop.

Beginning in April, trips run every week through November. The trains are owned and operated by Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, Inc. (TVRM) which is a non-profit, educational corporation whose mission is to collect, for preservation, operation, interpretation, and display railroad artifacts in an authentic setting to educate the public concerning the role that railroads played in the history and development of the region. Etowah and TOHA are honored to have them as operators of the historic “Old Line” or Hiwassee River Rail Adventure.

When you reserve your tickets for the Hiwassee River Rail Adventure, you have an option to ride the rail excursion for either four hours, leaving in the morning and returning to Etowah where you can shop and eat at your leisure, or leave in the early afternoon and return around 5 to 5:30 p.m. You also have the option of making it a two-day visit to Etowah and spending one entire day on the rail excursion visiting Copperhill, Tenn., where you will lay over a few hours to shop and eat.

If you love antiques, you’ll enjoy browsing several unique antiques and vintage shops such as Southern Heritage Antiques, Needful Things Antiques, and J & C Treasures. Interiors by Design not only offers antiques, vintage and collectibles, but also fabrics, gifts, special cleaning products by Caldreia, signature skin products, purses, backpacks, jewelry and there’s a designer on hand most always to help you if you need window treatments, blinds, shades or choosing paint colors. You’ll find several upholsterers in Etowah who specialize in vintage and historic preservation of family heirlooms. L & B Appliance is located just south of the depot and offers numerous lines of appliances, as well as fine furniture from sofas to bedroom and dining selections.

Etowah has become well known for numerous discount outlets like B & B Wholesale, Bargain Barn, United Wholesale, The Sundry Stores, T & S Tobacco Outlet, and a couple of thrift stores. If you are looking for a used laptop or desktop computer or want to have yours repaired or updated, Accurate Appliances and Computers is available. They have over 20 years experience and can service many of your small appliances such as radio and stereos.

Etowah offers wonderful eateries including Tony’s Italian Restaurant, Farm House, Michaels, Mexi Wings, Alley Cakes & Catering, Hong Kong King and Dominos, and Jean’s Bakery and Catering. Shopping for clothing won’t get any better. Johnsons Dept Store specializes in the latest styles of casual to dress for both the men and ladies and name-brand shoes and accessories.

Visitors often plan an extra day or two in Etowah so they can attend special performances by the Gem Players in the Historic Gem Theater. Executive director, Lamone Rose coordinates and directs some five different performances a year in the Historic Gem. The Gem Players are made up of actors from Etowah and surrounding cities and have earned ratings that have compared them to performances on Broadway and other well know theaters. Ms. Rose is active in planning the entertainment for McMinn’s favorite, the Old Fashion Fourth July Celebration, and assist with the entertainment for the Arts and Craft Festivals, as well as other events held at the theater and on the depot grounds.

The Merchants and Friends of Etowah is a not-for-profit organization that holds several events each year in order to assist the merchants and businesses by giving active support and promoting them through out the year. The Merchants & Friends of Etowah partner with Etowah Parks and Recreation to hold one of the areas favorite concerts, Matt Cordell as Elvis, which is held twice a year; the next Matt Cordell concert will be held August 10 & 11 this year. When you attend this concert, your monies will not only help downtown businesses, but the Merchants organization donate have assisted with funds for restoring the Historic Gem Theater and others. This year, be sure to plan your stay in Etowah so you can ride the Hiwassee River Rail, shop and eat in Etowah, and attend Matt Cordell’s Elvis Tribute Concert. Concert tickets go on sale in July and reserve and general seats sell very fast.

For information go to,, or You will find phone numbers and email contacts for more information.

By Maxine B. Jones, Ocoee, Tennessee