Crossville-Depot picture

One of the most cherished landmarks in Downtown Crossville is the Depot. In addition to a gift and souvenir shop and a delightful meeting room and patio, the Caboose is a museum that has fascination for adults and children.

The railroad tracks to Crossville were built in 1900 and the first train of Tennessee Central arrived in September of that year. The building of the Crossville Depot was not complete, so a boxcar served as the station until the main building was built. For years, the Depot was described as “the happening spot” for many train stops and people making Crossville a highly successful town exporting rock and timber, rich in goods, and increasing number of visitors and travelers.

In 1925, on Valentine’s Day, the Crossville Depot burned down. The original Depot was on the opposite side of the street from where it is now. The community was quick to re-build it in the current location and the newer building was finished in May of the following year.

 Over the years the Depot was the arrival-and-departure Happening Spot for both ordinary and famous people. Three of the famous people were Dr. May Cravath Wharton (the Doctor Woman of the Cumberlands, founder of Cumberland General Hospital and Uplands Village in Pleasant Hill and of Cumberland Medical Center), Alvin C. York (World War I Metal of Honor), and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (to visit the Cumberland Homesteads).

In the early 1980s, for various economic and social reasons, the railroad stopped running and the Crossville tracks were removed. The Depot, then owned by the Tennessee Central Railroad was not maintained for many years and fell into ruin.

In 1996, the local community, led by Bob Patton, began a renovation project with the three Rotary Clubs of Cumberland County and many others of the community. The state government turned the Depot over to the City of Crossville who leased it to the Rotary Foundation to manage the Depot as a “community service project.” Larry Doster, former owner of the Crossville Trophy & Gifts Shop on Main Street, became the “manager-and-scheduler” of the Depot, a position he and his wife Chris held for 17 years. According to Larry, “the rental rate was set so people could easily rent it for family and community events.” A portion of the rental proceeds from the meeting room is designated for scholarships through the Rotary Foundation. Larry continued, “In my experience, about 75% of the meeting room events are family oriented, 25% are organizations, businesses, or churches. The Depot averaged over 400 rentals annually, keep in mind these numbers was before the new Library was built and the Palace Theatre was renovated.

 Larry reports that he never owned a model train himself, but he put one into the Depot Gift Shop. “Actually, prisoners figured out how to install the tracks so that the train would not jump the track as it rounded the curves.”

Larry and Chris wanted to visit with new grandchildren and family; however, it is understandable that after those 17 years, both Larry and Chris have missed the Depot operation and its visitors.

In August 2014, the City of Crossville awarded the management contract to the C.A.T.S. Gallery (Cumberland Artists of Tennessee Studio - Gallery). As always, with every new management situation, new and expanded things are planned. Under the C.A.T.S. leadership, the Depot functioned as a mini-welcome center with information about activities and organizations of Cumberland County. The gift shop continued with souvenirs and original works by local artists. The meeting room continued to be scheduled with many community and private events with a portion of the rent for the meeting room going to the Rotary Foundation Scholarship fund. The Caboose, which was renovated by volunteers of Downtown Crossville Inc., open during all of the Depot hours which was expanded under the C.A.T.S. leadership.

There are “stories to be told “about the Depot. If you are a person with a remembrance or story about the Depot or about the trains, please give your name and contact information to the staff in the Depot. A story – teller is being sought to collect those stories to preserve them. What a treasure they will be!