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The South Tunnel General Store: Bringing History Back to Life

Sumner County is a haven to historic southern gems with ties to local, state, and national history. Historic Rock Castle was home to Daniel Smith, who is credited with the first official drawing of the state of Tennessee. The Douglass Clark House was the first courthouse in Sumner County with ties to former president Andrew Jackson in his early career practicing law. Now, the South Tunnel General Store is reclaiming its history as a true southern general store right in the heart of Gallatin, TN. 

The Early Years

The South Tunnel General Store was an early one stop shop for Sumner County residents. George Rodamore originally built the store in 1859 with the addition of the railroad being built in the in the area. Mr. Rodamore created the store as a location for goods, a post office, depot, and general gathering spots for the then residents. As the railroad continued to build and expand, the small general store would be moved eastward as a way to accommodate for the expanding railroad. The promise of growing prosperity and businesses from the addition of the railroad that would connect Nashville and Louisville was too attractive to pass. 

The Store and the Civil War

During the American Civil War, Sumner County was a crucial location to both the North and the South armies looking to control Nashville and the South Tunnel General Store was pivotal for goods of both sides. With the addition of the railroad connecting Nashville and Louisville, this section of railroad was fought after and continuously caused skirmishes in the area. Although no major battle took place around the store, it’s location to the railroad in Gallatin would prove to be a vital transportation line that would be monitored and patrolled throughout the entire American Civil War. 

A one Stop shop

After the war, the shop continued to stand in its secondary location after moving to accommodate for the expanding railroad. It continued to be a one stop shop for residents that were looking for general needs of food, a post office, a depot, and gathering spot. The stores popularity would continue all the way until the 1960s. The store would close in its same location in 1961 as the growth of Gallatin and the surrounding area outshined the southern store.  

The South Tunnel General Store in 1955

A New Generation reviving history

Upon its closing in 1961, the South Tunnel General Store was never demolished or replaced. The Store sat quietly in the backyard of a house in its secondary location from the 1860s. That is, until 23-year-old Jon Oliger found his ideal country fixer upper home with a historic store in his backyard. Jon got a “2 for 1” when purchasing the home and store. Jon quickly began refurbishing the store to as close to its original state as he could make it and opened the South Tunnel General Store for business in 2023. Almost 62 years after the stores closing, Jon is creating a new life and new history for a southern gem that has survived the test of time. 

The Store today

The store is open and operational today with vintage goods being sold like glass bottle sodas, Goo Goo clusters, and other sundries and goods that could be found in the store back in its early operational days. You may walk in and find residents reminiscing on their childhood store with a game of checkers or Jon catching up with his regulars who frequent the store. Although history waited 62 years, the South Tunnel General Store’s story and legacy continues to span generations, one sale at a time. 

The South Tunnel General Store is open and operational Friday and Saturday from 11 am – 5 pm. Follow their page for more updates and information regarding the store here. 

Sumner County hosts local, state, and national history at its historic sites. From the first American settlers in Tennessee to Revolutionary War generals to the President of the United States, Sumner County is a true staple in our nation’s history. Plan your next historic site tour and find out just how important Sumner County history truly is by visiting here

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