Etowah, Tennessee

Etowah is a city in McMinn County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 3,534 at the 2020 census.

Tennessee Avenue (US 411) in Etowah
Tennessee Avenue (US 411) in Etowah
Location of Etowah in McMinn County, Tennessee.
Location of Etowah in McMinn County, Tennessee.
Coordinates: 35°19′46″N 84°31′42″W / 35.32944°N 84.52833°W / 35.32944; -84.52833Coordinates: 35°19′46″N 84°31′42″W / 35.32944°N 84.52833°W / 35.32944; -84.52833
CountryUnited States
Named forCreek (Muskogee) word for "The Town", the nickname for Coosa, capital of the northern Creeks
 • TypeCouncil/Manager
 • MayorBurke Garwood
 • City ManagerRuss Blair
 • Total2.83 sq mi (7.32 km2)
 • Land2.83 sq mi (7.32 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
807 ft (246 m)
 • Total3,534
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,236.38/sq mi (477.38/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)423
FIPS code47-24480[4]
GNIS feature ID1328151[5]


Etowah was founded in 1906, primarily as a location for a depot on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad (L&N) line as part of a more direct route between Atlanta and Cincinnati. The etymology of the town name is unclear, but local folklore states that a train crew brought a sign reading "Etowah" from the Etowah River, and the name stuck. The word Etowah comes from the Muskogee/Creek word italwa meaning "town."[6]

In 1902, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad announced its plan to build a more direct line from Atlanta to Cincinnati in order to avoid the rugged mountains of North Georgia and East Tennessee bypassing the Great Hiwassee Loop. A point midway between these cities was needed to service cars and change crews, and at the end of 1904, land had been purchased in McMinn County to serve as this site and the city of Etowah was planned. The L & N purchased 1,454 acres (5.88 km2) for the main terminus (depot), maintenance and repair facilities (shops), railroad yards and proposed township to support the railroad workforce. This land was purchased at $10 to $20 per acre and the L&N set about building a major rail center and the town of Etowah.

Out of what was referred to then as a wet swampland, a boomtown sprung up in 1906 with the L & N Depot serving as the hub of the new town's business and social activities. Since then, the City of Etowah has ridden the waves of economic downturns and successes, such as the closing of the L & N shops in the 1930s and the recruitment of new industries, to evolve into the city that it is today. Etowah has seen positive growth in industry and retail over the past decade.

In 1974, Etowah residents Doug, Carol and Michael Tullock started the Bargain Barn grocery store, which has since grown into a chain that includes 35 stores in 5 states.[7]

On April 3, 1974, an F3 tornado struck southern Etowah, destroying 23 homes and killing 3 people. The tornado was one of many in the 1974 Super Outbreak.


Etowah is located at 35°19′46″N 84°31′42″W / 35.32944°N 84.52833°W / 35.32944; -84.52833 (35.329579, -84.528196).[8]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.8 square miles (7.2 km2), all of it land.


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)3,494[3]0.1%

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 3,663 people, 1,545 households, and 979 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,321.8 people per square mile (510.6/km2). There were 1,769 housing units at an average density of 638.4 per square mile (246.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.42% White, 3.25% African American, 0.38% Native American, 0.11% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 1.09% from other races, and 1.67% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.13% of the population.

There were 1,545 households, out of which 26.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.5% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.6% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 17.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 21.4% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 22.4% from 45 to 64, and 23.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females, there were 85.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,117, and the median income for a family was $33,034. Males had a median income of $27,824 versus $18,882 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,298. About 7.4% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.6% of those under age 18 and 13.7% of those age 65 or over.


The City of Etowah has a council-manager government. The Mayor sits as a Council member-at-large and presides over City Council meetings. In the event that the Mayor cannot preside over a City Council meeting, the Vice-Mayor is the presiding officer of the meeting until such time as the Mayor returns to his/her seat. The City Manager is responsible for the administration and the day-to-day operation of all of the municipal services and city departments. The City Manager also maintains intergovernmental relationships with federal, state, county and other local governments.

The primary law enforcement agency in the city is the City of Etowah Police Department. The city and the rest of the un-incorporated Etowah area are also under the jurisdiction of the McMinn County Sheriff's Office.


The city includes two K-8 elementary schools located within blocks of each other, which also include a Headstart and Pre-K. Mountain View Elementary is part of the McMinn County School System. The other, Etowah School, is administered by the city of Etowah. McMinn Central High School serves area 9th-12th grade students.


L&N Depot museum
in Etowah

The Historic L&N Depot museum in downtown Etowah is considered by many to be the main attraction in this small town. The historically African-American "Parkstown" neighborhood on the south side of Etowah has also seen renewed interest from tourists in recent years. An obvious presence in Etowah is the Gem Theater. Located in a building originally built in 1927 and purchased by the city of Etowah in 1993 and now is the location of local plays, concerts, movies and other events.[11]


The newest plant (Plant number 6) of the Waupaca Foundry, Inc. is located in Etowah. The plant makes quality grey and ductile steel components that are used in the automotive and farming markets. The foundry makes parts (such as control arms, differential covers and cases, and brake calipers) for the new Ford F-series heavy duty trucks, Dodge Caravan, Hummer H2, GMC Envoy, Chrysler 300C/Dodge Charger, and the Toyota Camry. Etowah also claims two other plants, Johns Manville and Huber, even though neither are actually located in the city limits.

Notable peopleEdit


  1. ^ Tennessee Blue Book, 2005-2006, pp. 618-625.
  2. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  6. ^ [1] Archived May 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine About Etowah, Etowah Chamber of Commerce, May 9, 2008
  7. ^ "United Grocery Outlet -".
  8. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  9. ^ "Census of Population and Housing: Decennial Censuses". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  10. ^ "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Resident Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 11, 2013. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  11. ^ [2] Archived May 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Gem Theater Players, About the Gem Theater, May 9, 2009
  12. ^ 'History of the Carlock Family and of Pioneer Americans.' Marion Pomeroy Carlock-editor, Wm. Strauss Printing Company, Inc., Los Angeles, California: 1929, Biographical Sketch of Malcolm Paul Cantrell, pg. 548

External linksEdit