Chattanooga Railroad Series: Alabama And Chattanooga Railroad

Monday, January 6, 2014

A railroad that had been started in the valley between Lookout Mountain and Sand Mountain was finally completed to Chattanooga several years after the Civil War.

It was first known as the Wills Valley Railroad, but by the time it was finished the title was changed to the Alabama and Chattanooga Railroad. This was the fourth train operating in Chattanooga - not counting the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, which used tracks of the Nashville train from Stevenson, Ala., to Chattanooga.

The flamboyant John C. Stanton from Boston had stepped in to complete it. It was finished between Wauhatchie to Meridian, Miss., by May of 1871. 

Stanton also constructed the elaborate Stanton House hotel nearby at the site where the Terminal Station (Chattanooga Choo Choo) was later built.

Stanton also persuaded city officials to move the post office to this section, which was considered quite a distance from the original settlement by the river. The post office was constructed at the corner of King and South Market streets (where the Ellis Hotel was later built).

A depot was constructed at Market and 13th streets for the Alabama and Chattanooga Railroad, which entered town from the south along the Nashville and Chattanooga route around Moccasin Bend, then veered away at Montgomery Avenue (Main Street). 

The Alabama and Chattanooga Railroad also put up a freight depot across the street opposite the post office. Also at the complex were a brick roundhouse with 11 stalls and wooden railroad shops.

Until early in the 1900s there was only a single track on the narrow shelf of land around the base of Lookout Mountain across from Moccasin Bend. It was shared by not only the Nashville train, but also the Memphis and Charleston and the Alabama and Chattanooga.

However, the Stanton empire soon crumbled and he returned to his palatial home in New England.

The Alabama and Chattanooga Railroad was rescued from bankruptcy in 1877 and given the distinguished title of Alabama Great Southern Railway Company. It offered service to New Orleans, Mobile, Vicksburg and other points to the south and west.

When Union Station became too congested, the AGS depot at Market and 13th Street was converted into use as the Central Passenger Station. It stood where the Southern Railway headquarters was built. It opened Sept. 16, 1888. It was taken down after the Terminal Station was built further south on Market Street. The Chattanooga headquarters for the Southern Railway was eventually built at the site of the Central Passenger Station. It was converted for residential use.

The Alabama Great Southern and the Cincinnati Southern later operated as part of the Queen and Crescent Route using the old Alabama and Chattanooga freight depot at Market and King. 

When Baron Emile D'Erlanger was the chief official of the Queen and Crescent Route he made a visit to Chattanooga. A pitch was made to him to help in a drive to construct a local hospital. He pledged $5,000 and said he would have the two railroads pledge the same. The hospital was later named for him. 

An old Alabama and Chattanooga Railroad building remains behind the Southern Railway headquarters at 1301 Market St. The Urban Stack hamburger place now occupies this site. Cobblestones dating to the city's earliest days are still in place as a picturesque pavement outside this quaint railroad building.

There is still track in place that crosses Market Street by the old Alabama and Chattanooga Railroad site and the old railroad baggage building. It moves on across Broad Street to the junction with the fragment of Nashville tracks at Main Street behind the chicken processing plant, but train cars no longer rumble by.

One of the most elaborate depots along the line is the stone station at Fort Payne, Ala., which has been converted to a museum. The Trenton, Ga., depot was converted for a visitor center.  


Upcoming City Council Agenda For Tuesday

Here is the upcoming City Council agenda for Tuesday: I. Call to Order. II. Pledge of Allegiance/Invocation (Councilman Gilbert). III. Minute Approval. IV. Special Presentation. V. Ordinances – Final Reading: ECONOMIC AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT a. An ordinance to amend Chattanooga City Code, Part II, Chapter 26, Section 26-33, Outdoor Fee Changes to ... (click for more)

Terry Lee Says Tony Sanders "Carrying The Water" For Marty Haynes

Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Terry Lee said county GOP Chairman Tony Sanders "carried the water for their dishonest candidate for assessor of property Marty Haynes." Mr. Lee said, "This is not the first time Haynes has hidden behind Sanders; and it likely won’t be the last.   "In trying to focus on what amounts to a clerical error that has already been corrected ... (click for more)

Olympic Events On The Ocoee River Made History – But It Wasn’t Easy

It started with a simple “what if” question while Atlanta officials were working on a bid to host the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.  A group of amateur kayakers from the city began asking themselves: “What if Atlanta’s bid is successful? Then where would the Olympic whitewater canoe and kayak races be held?”  To some of the members of that group, the answer was obvious. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Don’t Kick A Man’s Neck

From the minute my brothers and I each became cognizant, my dad started teaching us the rules of becoming a man. Dad was from deep in Mississippi and he’d been taught a lot of life’s secrets from his father. These lessons have been passed for generations and, the older I have become, I’m convinced a lot of them were borne from The Sermon on the Mount. Our favorite, back in the ... (click for more)

Smokies Nip Lookouts Friday , 7-6, In 11 Innings

The Tennessee Smokies scored a run in the 11th inning to defeat the Chattanooga Lookouts by a score of 7-6 before a nice crowd of 4,150. Felix Jorge was back on the mound, but he was done long before the game was decided as the game went a couple of extra innings. Jorge went the first five innings. He gave up three runs on five hits, a walk and hit a batter. He struck ... (click for more)

Chattanooga FC Hosts NPSL National Semifinal Saturday

All eyes are on Saturday as Chattanooga FC prepares for the NPSL National Championship Semifinal match against Sonoma County Sol at Finley Stadium. In efforts to FILL "FORT" Finley, CFC has extended their discount on $7 tickets until Thursday at 2:00. After 2:00, tickets will be $10 until 6:00 on Saturday, when the price will rise to $12. Tickets are available online at ChattanoogaFC.com.  ... (click for more)