Repairs to Historic Tunnel Hill Depot in Progress

Tunnel Hill
(Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

TUNNEL HILL, Ga. — Officials here are in the process of repairing the roof of the historic depot in the center of town, one of the oldest train depots in the state.

“So far, we have repainted the building, put new mortar in,” The Dalton Daily Citizen quoted City Manager Blake Griffin as saying. “We’ve cleaned out the inside. We tore the ceiling out, and we are about halfway through replacing the roof.”

Meanwhile, city officials hope voters will approve a four-year Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) during a May 19 election.

If approved, Tunnel Hill would receive $490,945 from the tax, and city officials plan to use $300,000 to turn the depot into a community center.

The historic Tunnel Hill railroad depot was built using limestone from nearby Chetogetta Mountain beginning in 1848, the same year work on a nearby 1,477-foot-long tunnel started. Both were built as the state-owned Western & Atlantic Railroad was constructed between Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tenn.

For years, the depot was part of a mill that was constructed around the historic building.

In 2013, The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation placed the antebellum railroad depot and nine other structures to its annual list of “Places in Peril.”

Overall, the limestone bricks remain in “good condition,” the organization said. However, it identified “structural damage, including mortar erosion, the lack of an overhanging eave, and cracked lintels over the original freight door openings” as contributing to the threat of the building.

The Georgia Trust suggested partnering with the city of Tunnel Hill “to obtain increased recognition of the building by generating knowledge and interest in the role the depot has played in local and state history.”

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