The Way We Worked Smithsonian Exhibit in Cowan TN
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"The Way We Worked" - Lectures and Programs

Join us Thursday at 7 pm for programs and lectures pertaining to "The Way We Worked".

April 19, Thursday 7:00PM speaker Dr. John M. McCardell, Jr., 16th Vice-Chancellor and President of The University of the South
“Founding of a University”

Dr. McCardell will discuss the founding of an institution of higher learning and its impact on the history of this area.

Previous Programs

March 15, Thursday 7:00PM 
speaker Jarod Pearson 
“The Hawkins Family”

The city of Cowan, at one time, was called Hawkins. They started the first bank in Cowan, first electric service, and first water service. The Hawkins family also contributed land to the University of the South and played a major role in the Cowan Cement plant.

March 18, Sunday at 4:00PM 
speaker Stoney Gray
"Singing Wire & Jewles in the Sky: Some Experiences of an Open Wire Lineman"

Stoney Gray, a former Telephone Lineman, will discuss in his extemporaneous and entertaining style stories of an open-wire lineman.  These were the daring young (mostly) men that climbed the poles and kept the communication wires humming all over the country during the 1960’s.  This is the saga of what it took in physical and personal effort to install and maintain the familiar telephone lines strung all over this country.  There will be personal glimpses of hardships, failures and successes during the era before the cell phone and wireless phones.  Stoney will deliver his talk in full lineman’s regalia, equipped with appropriate tools of the trade of that time-period.

There will be hands-on sharing of some of the tools Stoney has collected over his lifetime.  Also some of the intricate hardware iin use during those days such as specialized connectors and insulators will be on display.

March 22, Thursday 7:00PM speaker Jarod Pearson
“Coal, Iron, a Railroad, and a Goat Track”

The historical connection between the area coal mines, a large steel mill, a fine university, and a much-celebrated railroad branchline.

March 25, Sunday 4:00PM speaker Dr. Michael Bradley
“Rebel Ingenuity”

Dr. Bradley’s lecture will deal with “the way we worked” in the South during the Civil War. He will discuss several instances in which Rebel ingenuity (as opposed to “Yankee” ingenuity) solved pressing industrial problems for the Confederacy.  More Info

March 29, Thursday 7:00PM speaker John Lovett
“Falls Mill: Life in a Nineteenth Century Textile Factory”

John will present aspects of workers’ lives at Falls Mill, a typical small southern textile mill of the late 1800’s. Topics will include the workers’ interaction with mill owners and machinery, their social lives, working conditions, and pay scale.

April 1, Sunday 4:00PM speaker Tom Knowles
"Railroading in and thru Cowan"

This will be a brief historical review on railroading with a local flavor. The talk will be assisted with a Power point projection of maps, sketches and photographs. There will be refreshments as well. The program should be approximately 45 minutes long.

Cowan Resident Mr. Tom Knowles is the presenter, as Curator of the Cowan Railroad Museum, and VP of the NC&StL Preservation Society being a fifty-year historian of the former railroad that was Tennessee’s own.

April 5, Thursday 7:00PM - Film Night - “Rising from the Rails” 

The story of the Pullman Porter. This film is about how a group of men no one knew inspired an entire nation to change. 

Part of “The Black History Uncovered” series, and based on the best-selling book by Larry Tye, this moving documentary chronicles the legacy of the Pullman Porters, generations of African American men who served as caretakers to wealthy white passengers on luxury trains that traversed the nation during the Golden Age of Rail.

Porters became trailblazers in the struggle for dignity and self-sufficiency, patriarchs of black labor unions and the Civil Rights Movement, and produced generations of influential African Americans.  Rising from the Rails is an engaging and poignant tribute to these men who rose, with dignity, from the rails. More Info

April 8, Sunday - no lecture (Easter Sunday).

Smithsonian Exhibit will be open as usual from 1 to 4 pm.

April 12, Thursday 7:00PM speaker Kathy Peck
"The History of Crow Creek Valley Occupation"

The lecture will cover occupations from digging ginseng to limestone mining. The focus will be on the limestone mining industry. Did you know that products you use every day contain limestone?

April 15, Sunday 4:00PM speaker Mark S. Womack
"Working the Cowan Depot"

A former employee of the NC&StL, Mark retired from the L&N as Superintendent of Rules. An avid writer, Mark has been published in numerous magazines pertaining to Trains and Telegraphy.  Hired as an operator in July 1941, Mark worked at Rockledge, Sherwood and Decherd, and was agent-operator at Cowan from January 1952 through July 1953.

Mark's speech was very well received by a record crowd. We hope to have him back in October for another lecture.


All lectures will be in the Center for the Arts Training Center. 
Admission is free, but donations are gladly accepted.
The Way We Worked has been made possible in Cowan,TN by Humanities Tennessee. The Way We Worked, an exhibition created by the National Archives, is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and State Humanities Councils nationwide.
Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.

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