Cumberland Mountain Tunnel
The contruction of the Nashville to Chattanooga Railroad line came to a standstill when the steep grade of the proposed rail line was deemed impassable. The solution was the Cumberland Mountain tunnel - a project which began in 1849 and was completed in 1852.
The railroad was fully operational by 1855 and employed many local citizens, some of whom moved into Cowan to help build the tunnel. In that same time period, four prominent Episcopal bishops that had envisioned a higher education institution in the Southeast were negotiating a large land allotment with the Sewanee Mining Company on the mountain east of Cowan. The area, or town, was later known as Sewanee, and in 1860 the cornerstone was laid for The University of the South.
The Civil War created a huge interruption to the progress in the area, but made Cowan and the Cumberland Mountain Tunnel a very strategic location for both union and confederate troops. Both sides considered destroying the tunnel, but then fiercely guarded it because of its critical importance during the war.
The address of this tunnel take you to the end of nearby Shagtown Rd., and although the tunnel is closed to the public these are the GPS coordinates: 35.154626,-85.979079
Articfacts and photos can be seen at the nearby Cowan Railroad Museum.
For More Information
1399 Slagtown Rd
Cowan, TN 37318