published Friday, March 9th, 2012

‘Way We Worked’ exhibit on display at Cowan


What: “The Way We Worked” exhibit.

When: Saturday-April 21. Hours: 4-7 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday; and 1-4 p.m. Sunday (all times Central).

Where: Cowan Center for the Arts, 301 Montgomery St., Cowan, Tenn.

Admission: Free but donations accepted.

Phone: 931-967-1560.

Where work is concerned, in Cowan, Tenn., they’ve been working on the railroad — all the live-long day.

Area residents will have an opportunity to check out the story of the railroad in the Franklin County town between Sewanee and Winchester in a display at the Cowan Center for the Arts starting Saturday.

The display is a companion piece to the Smithsonian Institution exhibit “The Way We Worked,” which will be available at the arts center from Saturday through April 21.

“This is the first time a Smithsonian exhibit has ever visited Franklin County,” said Maryann Knowles, secretary of the Cowan Railroad Museum. “To my knowledge, we’ve never had anything like this. It’s an honor to be able to bring the Smithsonian to the town and the community.”

The Cowan Railroad Museum is hosting the traveling exhibit in partnership with Humanities Tennessee, Museums on Main Street and the Smithsonian.

The 700- to 800-square-feet exhibit, according to Knowles, consists of five kiosks, each one with a specific theme: introduction, where we worked, how we worked, who works and why we work.

What is on display, she said, are primarily photographs — 186 of them, to be exact — with accompanying text. But there also are video screens, flip books, audio clips and other interactive features.

Additional information will be available to smartphone and iPad users, who can access questions and answers about the exhibit or download an app specific to it.

The companion exhibit on Cowan will describe rail’s importance to the community, according to Knowles. She said the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway once employed 600 area residents, including some in a steam locomotive repair facility.

Even before the Civil War, she said, locomotive engines in the area assisted freight trains to mount the 2,228-foot grade needed to reach a tunnel through the Cumberland Mountains two miles south of the town.

Still today, two helper engines are permanently assigned to the area.

In addition to the local exhibit on railroad work in Cowan by the Cowan Railroad Museum, displays also will be present by the Franklin County Historical Society, Arnold Air Force Base, Falls Mills, University of the South, Grundy County Historical Society, Moore County Historical Society and the Sherwood & Crow Creek Heritage Preservation Society.

During the run of the exhibit, programs, lectures or speakers will be offered at 4 p.m. Sundays and 7 p.m. Thursdays (all times Central). Among the speakers will be Chattanoogan Mark Womack, who was agent/operator for the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway at Cowan in the 1950s. He will speak on April 15.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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