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Cowan is a city in Franklin County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 1,737 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Tullahoma, Tennessee Micropolitan Statistical Area.
The earliest settlers arrived in the Cowan area in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The home of one such settler, William Russell, served as the Franklin County Courthouse until the establishment of Winchester in 1810. The town was named for Dr. James Benjamin Cowan, a Civil War-era doctor whose family had lived in the area since the early 1800s.
The town of Cowan dates from the mid-19th century and developed mostly as a railroad town. It was the site where several branch lines met the main Nashville to Chattanooga trunk of the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway which ran through the important Cowan Tunnel. As the last stop before the uphill climb onto the nearby Cumberland Plateau, pusher engines to assist trains in making the steep ascent were based there, and are still in use today.
The town's economy declined with the importance of the railroad after U.S. Route 41A was built in the 1940s.