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Wartburg History

A 1947 Article in The Tennessean gave the following description of Wartburg:

Wartburg has a beautiful setting at the foot of Ward and Byrdmountains on the Cumberland Plateau. Although this setting may be reminiscent of the European locale, there is little if any visible evidence of an Old country heritage. The evidence of Wartburg's origin, we discover, was not to be found in its physical appearance but in its people.

In the year 1828, a German traveler, Traugott Broome, passed through several parts of Tennessee. His published account paints a very favorable picture of the area presently covered by Roane, Anderson, Morgan, and Cumberland Counties. In 1839, five years after the first publication of Broome's book, large tracts of land in the Cumberland Plateau region were offered for sale in New York City. George F. Gerding was among the first buyers.

The intended use he had for this land was for his project of a "New Germany" in Tennessee. Gerding saw this as a profitable account. He helped organize a company called "East Tennessee Colonization Company". When the new settlers arrived in New Orleans, they traveled up the Mississippi to the Emory River to what is now the Wartburg settlement. Gerding stayed in New York and returned in 1847 to find his project with many problems. Upon finding these problems, he moved his family to Wartburg and took charge himself.

The original plot of the town as laid out showed six streets running north and south numbered I to VI. Crossing them in an east-west direction and forming squares of 240 feet each, were five other streets-named Antwerp, Frankfurt, Maning, and Cologne. One square was set aside for the public square where it was hoped a Morgan County Courthouse would be erected. After Gerding arrived and took charge of the project, the street names were changed and the incorporation of Wartburg occurred in 1851.

Today, the Morgan County Courthouse stands as the focal point in the town square of Wartburg. A recent restoration of the clock in the courthouse tower helped townspeople reconnect with the storied history of their town and county.

The courthouse square is ringed by small business, Schubert Funeral Home, Union Planters Bank, Wartburg First Baptist, the Morgan County News office, and the United States Post Office.

Businesses, banks, the Morgan County Schools Central Office, and the old Schubert Motel (referred to as the Hub now because “hub” is the only remnant of the original sign left) form the main business district that stretches southward on the old U.S. Highway 27. In the early 1980s, a by-pass was completed so that Highway 27 no longer meanders through the town of Wartburg.

The high school and elementary school are located on the eastern border of the town along Highway 62. Fast food restaurants, a regional grocery franchise and pharmacy provide additional options for those living in the area.

Locally-owned restaurants and small businesses help the town retain is community bases for citizens to meet, to shop or eat, or to just catch up on local news. A walking track beside the high school is also community meeting place for all generations.

As the title of the 1947 article said, Wartburg is a town with a difference. It has progressed toward the 21st century with the rest of the nation, but has managed to keep that “hometown” atmosphere as well.