Niota prepares to be one of best spots for solar eclipse

NIOTA, Tenn. (WATE) – Niota, Tennessee, is known for having the state’s oldest standing train depot but on Monday it will be known for being one of the greatest places in East Tennessee to watch the total solar eclipse.

“We have the longest eclipse time in this area,” said Mayor Lois Preece. “Two minutes and 39 seconds.”

People from all over the country will travel to Niota leaving many people, like Dan Fisher, with a full house.

“We’ve got friends coming from Nashville because we were closer to the epicenter,” said Fisher. “We have people coming from Huntsville, Alabama, that I worked with at NASA when I was in college, people from North Carolina.”

Fisher once worked for NASA studying the moon and is excited to share this once in a lifetime experience with his grandchildren.

“I’ve got a couple that won’t remember it,” said Fisher. “We’ve got people from 82 to two years old that are going to be at our house, so, we really don’t know what all to expect, but I’ve got enough grandchildren that are old enough that will remember it.”

For those people who are still looking for a place to watch the eclipse and eye protection, the city is giving away a free pair of glasses to everyone who comes to watch the event.

Many people in Niota say they hope this event will help put what they call this “sleepy little town” back on the map.

“It’s exposure,” said Preece. “People will know we exist.”

“It means a lot because they will get to see what a nice little community this is,” said Fisher. “It’s a wonderful place to live, like I said, we’ve lived here since 1976 and I could not think of a better place to raise a family than right here.”

The Niota Eclipse Sky Watch is from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Monday. There will be vendors, music and speakers from the Johnson Space Center. The event is free but there is a parking fee. The event will be held at the train depot.

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