In 1902, the L&N Railroad was searching for a location between Atlanta and Knoxville to build their Southern Division Headquarters on a new, more direct route between the two cities. This new line would bypass the mountainous area of the Hiwassee Gorge. The new location would include facilities for crew changes, and workshops to manufacture box cars and repair engines. A site located approximately half way between Knoxville and Chattanooga was chosen.
The L&N Depot was constructed in 1906 to house the division headquarters and was the first public building constructed in Etowah. The L&N Railroad employed 2,800 people in these early days, and created a bustling economy in Etowah.
In 1906, as the workforce at the new site grew and workers began moving families to the area, Etowah became the first planned community of the L&N Railroad. Construction workers arrived in Etowah to construct nearly a mile of buildings along the tracks that housed the workshops. A turn table was built to rotate the engines 360 degrees, allowing for direction changes.
The workshops in Etowah remained in operation until after the depression of the 1930's, when the railroad found it necessary to consolidate services and move them to other locations.
The L&N Depot remains an anchor for the community. The Depot is the ticket
office for rail excursions that continue to take passengers over the Old Line and Historic L&N Hiwassee Loop over Bald Mountain to Copperhill. Several annual festivals and celebrations are held on the Depot Lawn, and the park is a popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike.