Stop 16. L&N Depot and Welcome Center

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At the heart of the Old Town Artisan Center, the Berea Tourism Welcome Center is a lively place. The spacious front lawn is encircled by sculptures – 4 giant hands and a long, sprawling metal mythical beast. The hand directly in front of the Welcome Center is Yatsugatake by R.C.Thompson. Yatsugatake is a tribute to Berea’s long standing partnership with a sister city in Japan, with Mt. Fuji on one side and Pilot Knob on the other. Delegations, including many artists, exchange visits annually. The central portion of the lawn is kept open for activities like fire dancing on First Fridays or classes under a huge tent during the Festival of Learnshops. Classes are also held on the porch of the log cabin on the right side of the lawn, classes like Robin Reed’s popular Shiitake and Oyster Mushroom Log Inoculation. The cabin’s porch is the site for Jammin’ on the Porch every Thursday evening during the warm months. There is a steady stream of people in and out of the Welcome Center in the Historic L&N Depot. It’s the place to get the latest updates on what is happening around town, but there’s more to it than that. Every Wednesday, the Welcome Center Woodcarvers gather to swap stories and whittle. Visitors are welcome to join right in. On Thursdays Janet Northern demonstrates basket making from native materials that she harvests on her farm – honeysuckle vines and hickory bark – and explains her process and the traditions of basket making. The building houses exhibits of local art and artifacts from the days when it was an active passenger train depot, the only brick station between Lexington, KY and Nashville, TN. It was constructed in 1917 when the previous depot became too small to handle the amount of passengers and freight. Today up to 30 freight trains per day rumble past the depot, but they no longer stop. In 1975 the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and purchased by the City of Berea. It has been renovated twice with great attention to preserving its historical integrity. In June train and model train enthusiasts gather at the Depot for L&N Day.