All Aboard for this Historic Happening Spot
One of the landmarks in Downtown Crossville is the Depot. In addition to a gift 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 the 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 the many trains 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 original Crossville Depot burned down. The community was quick to re-build it across the tracks from where it first stood. The new Crossville Depot building at its current location 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 Cumberland’s, 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 state, 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, 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 low so people could easily rent it for family and community events.” Larry continued, “In my experience, about 75% of the meeting room events are family oriented, 25% are organizations, businesses, or churches.” Larry reported 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 left the Depot management after 17 years, to spend more time with family and grandchildren.
In August 2014, the City of Crossville awarded the management contract to the C.A.T.S. Gallery (Cumberland Artists of Tennessee Studio – Gallery). The C.A.T.S. group ran the Depot until the summer of 2018, when they notified the City they were disbanding as an organization.
The Crossville City Council voted to take over the operation of the Depot. It now functions as a mini-welcome center with information about activities / events and organizations and businesses of Crossville. The gift shop features “Made in Tennessee” products. The meeting room got a makeover with a new hardwood floor as well as several other improvements. This space is scheduled for many community and private events. The Caboose, which was renovated by volunteers of Downtown Crossville Inc., is open during all of the Depot hours for the public to enjoy.
The Depot is open Tuesday through Friday, and a half day Saturday, as well as for special events. To schedule the meeting room, call 931-456-2586.