Tunnel Hill resident Buddy Watson said recently he was glad to see work being done on the historic Tunnel Hill railroad depot.
"It was an eyesore for a long time with all that junk left around it," he said. "I was glad when they finally got rid of that, and it's nice to see them improving everything."
The state legislature deeded the property that the depot sits on to the city of Tunnel Hill in 2007. The depot dates to the start of the Western & Atlantic Railroad in 1850.
The depot structure had been used for several decades as part of a feed mill, and was used in the first few years of this century as part of a recycling business. When that firm went out of business, it left a large amount of debris on the property.
So it's no wonder that Watson was glad to see something positive being done with the property. It's been long overdue.
Plans are for the depot, located near the Tunnel Hill battlefield and the Clisby Austin house, to serve as a community center featuring a dining/entertainment area and a dressing area for weddings. City officials believe it will become a site for weddings, family reunions, concerts, plays and other events. When the work on it is finished, expected by the end of this year, it will greatly enhance the quality of life for the residents of Tunnel Hill and others, which is certainly a noble thing. It could also serve as a tourist attraction. The stone walls are made from rocks quarried from the nearby Western & Atlantic Railroad tunnel as it was dug out of the Chetoogeta mountain.
Tunnel Hill officials have been hoping for just such an outcome for more than a decade.
The work is being funded by $600,000 from the 2015 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) as well as some money from the SPLOST approved this year, and $200,000 in donations. Those donations are being put to very good use.
We commend the city leaders of Tunnel Hill for finally getting this project done, and we look forward to the many events at the depot that will brighten the community there.