The town of Cowan dates from the mid-19th century and developed mostly as a railroad town. It was the site where several branch lines met the main Nashville to Chattanooga trunk of the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway which ran through the important Cowan Tunnel.
As the last stop before the uphill climb onto the nearby Cumberland Plateau, pusher engines to assist trains in making the steep ascent were based there, and are still in use today.[…]
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