The Hohenwald-Lewis County Chamber of Commerce and the Lewis County Historical Society are partnering to dedicate the red train caboose, located at 112 East Main Street in Hohenwald. The caboose was recently named “Killebrew’s Caboose” to honor Colonel Joseph Buckner Killebrew. Col. J.B. Killebrew was an Immigration Agent with the N.C. & St. L. Railway in the 1890’s. He actively recruited immigrants to Tennessee during that time, and is credited with giving the approval for Hohenwald to have a depot on the N.C. & St. L line. This was of great importance, since the train brought in a majority of the Swiss settlers to this area through the efforts of Col. Killebrew and the Swiss Pioneer Union.
Col. Killebrew visited Hohenwald several times between 1894 and 1901. In 1895, Col. Killebrew stated the Swiss Colony in Hohenwald was “the most promising colony that has been started in the South, because the people composing it are so intelligent.” Col. Killebrew returned to Hohenwald in 1896 to assess reports of dissatisfaction within the Swiss Colony in Hohenwald. Those claims were shown to be incorrect based on an article he wrote for the Nashville American.
In 1897, Col. Killebrew brought tobacco seeds, and in 1898, he came to Hohenwald twice: once to give a lecture on the culture of tobacco and again to observe the colony, for which he gave his praise for the tobacco and corn crops. Col. Killebrew was in Hohenwald once more in 1901 to inspect the peach orchards to gather information to use in a book he was preparing.
There have been recent renovations to the caboose that were recognized in December of 2018, and more are planned prior to the upcoming event.
Descendants of Col. Killebrew, government and N.C. & St. L. Railway officials have been invited to attend.
This event will be held on Saturday, June 15, 2019 from 10 a.m. until noon. After the dedication and unveiling of the plaque, visitors will have the opportunity to tour the caboose and the historic Depot adjacent to the caboose.
Light refreshments will be served, and the City of Hohenwald will offer rides on the small train through the Discovery Center.