Chattanooga Railroad Series: The Old Line Of The Western And Atlantic Railroad

Thursday, December 26, 2013 - by John Wilson

It was Dec. 1, 1849, when Chattanoogans caught sight of the first train pulling into the later "Choo Choo City." The Western and Atlantic had been built north from Marthasville (Atlanta). The route chosen was around the north end of Missionary Ridge, then across several trestles over the winding South Chickamauga Creek.

The W&A followed a path near the creek, then headed straight for Chattanooga and the destination across from the Crutchfield House (site of the later Read House). 

It went past the later Warner Park and the later National Cemetery.

From the Cemetery site, it veered straight west for the property the state of Georgia had acquired where the Union Depot would be built.

It went behind 11th Street before crossing King Street behind where the Ellis Hotel was eventually constructed.

The track crossed Market Street and headed for the depot. There was no South Broad Street at the time; Railroad Avenue (later Broad Street) ended at 9th Street.

The W&A Depot, featuring a two-story brick section in front topped by a cupola, was in a brick building at Ninth and Market. Then the arched Car Shed was constructed nearby before the Civil War. The handsome Union Depot was constructed in front of the Car Shed in 1882. This station and the Car Shed survived until the early 1970s after passenger service ended. The original depot at Ninth and Market was in operation for many years as the Chattanooga Steak House. 

Two of the W&A trestles across South Chickamauga Creek can be seen along the new section of the South Chickamauga Creek Greenway near Youngstown Road. It was these bridges that were burned by Union sympathizers in 1861. They had been in a remote gorge all these years and most of the city's railroad historians had not seen them.

The old Sterchi dairy barn is near the W&A crossing of Harrison Pike. A trailhead for the South Chickamauga Creek Greenway was built nearby.

The main line of the consolidated railroads today follows much of the original W&A route, going beneath viaducts at Wilcox Boulevard, Third Street and McCallie and Bailey avenues to near the National Cemetery, then veering under the Central Avenue viaduct.

The W&A track between just west of Central Avenue and the old Union Station site went out of use after the Union Depot was closed in 1971 and then torn down.

There are some old tracks in fields behind 11th Street and up from King Street, but no trace of Chattanooga's first train line remains where it went the last half mile into the Union Station. 

 


Get Emailed Headlines From Chattanoogan.com; Like Us On Facebook, Twitter For Instant News

We send out headlines each day of the latest Chattanooga news. Our news headlines have links that take you to the stories with a click. We also send out special emails if there is a highly significant local news story breaking so you will be aware of it quickly. To be added to the email headline list, just email us at news@chattanoogan.com In addition, like us on Facebook ... (click for more)

Bradley County Sheriff's Office Says It Does Not Know What Grand Jury Decided After Hearing Evidence Against Sheriff Watson

The Bradley County Sheriff's Office said early Thursday afternoon it does not know what the Grand Jury may have decided after evidence was presented to it on Wednesday against Sheriff Eric Watson. The evidence was presented after a year-long investigation by Sevier County District Attorney James Dunn and the TBI. James Bradford of the Sheriff's Office said, " The Bradley County ... (click for more)

Do Something To Protect Our Children

It is unconscionable in this day and age that these children had to exist in such deplorable conditions and that an innocent baby suffered and died alone in a locked car.  Yes, there is blame and accountability considering this family had child neglect charges filed a few years ago (that were apparently dropped and expunged) and a large part of the responsibility should ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Never Rile A Ghost

I don’t care whether you believe in ghosts or not but there is one of life’s rules that should be etched in stone – “Don’t Stir Up A Ghost.” Personally I’ve never seen a ghost but when I was a little kid I heard a bunch of them at different times, and I know where some hang out. There is the famous “Green Eyes” among a handful of haunts at the Chickamauga Battlefield. You can hear ... (click for more)

Chattanooga State Basketball camp Is More Than Basketball

As Chattanooga State head men’s basketball coach Jay Price out it simply, “Chattanooga Parks and Recreation had the kids, we had the resources.” So, a partnership was struck where the city supplied 140 boys from the inner city and Chatt State brought the facilities. The girl's camp last week had 75 participants.   Just like that the first of what Coach Price hopes will ... (click for more)

Lookouts Announce That Playoff Tickets Are On Sale Beginning July 24th

The 2017 First Half North Division Champion Chattanooga Lookouts have announced that individual tickets for the Lookouts 2017 playoffs presented by CoreCivic Silverdale Detention Facility will go on sale online at Lookouts.com and over the phone on Monday, July 24 at 9:00 a.m.  Tickets start at just $6.  On Monday, fans will be able to secure their seats to the team’s ... (click for more)