Regional Commission Success Stories: Town of Talking Rock Railroad Car Restoration

Georgia’s 12 regional commissions are public agencies created and established by the Georgia Planning Act (O.C.G.A. 50-8-32) to assist local governments on a regional basis and to develop, promote, and assist in establishing coordinated and comprehensive planning in the state. The Department of Community Affairs contracts annually with the Regional Commissions to primarily foster effective local and regional planning and implementation of those plans. Our Regional Commissions “Success Story” series highlights these regions by sharing their incredible achievements. You can view all of the communities on our Story Map

The Town of Talking Rock, named for Talking Rock Creek which was translated from the Cherokee language, is located in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains. Talking Rock is found on the Old Line Railroad, which is a 47-mile stretch of rail line built in 1890 to link Knoxville, Tennessee, to Marietta by rail. With the Talking Rock Nature Preserve nearby, the town acquired two historic railroad cars and a caboose to restore them for heritage tourism and festival events. 

As the town restored its park and downtown parking for residents and events, the annual Town Festival also grew in popularity and allowed local business owners to work with the town in a public/private partnership to develop a microbrewery in one historic car, which opened January 2021. 

The second car is leased for the Hook and Eye Tavern, and the town will use the caboose as a History Museum, providing further interest for residents and visitors alike. The town restored the exterior of the car while the business owner restored the interior. 

The project is a success for the small town along with state and federal funding assistance for park restoration and downtown improvements. Building on these successes, the town is now studying additional infrastructure improvements to continue serving businesses, residents, and visitors.