Chattanooga Railroad Series: The Old Line Of The Cincinnati Southern

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A railroad linking Chattanooga with Cincinnati was assured when the Cincinnati City Council on June 4, 1869, adopted a resolution designating Chattanooga as the southern terminus of the Cincinnati Southern Railway. The city's chief competitor had been Knoxville. 

Later in the month, the city of Cincinnati approved $10 million in bonds to build the railway. Most of the money came from Cincinnati, but Chattanooga citizens did vote 923 to 64 in 1873 to subscribe $10,000 to the line. Near the end of the construction, Chattanooga citizens raised another $100,000 for the railroad project.

Excavation work started in 1873. Convicts were among those working on the line near Chattanooga. 

The last spike was driven into place on Dec. 11, 1879, in Robbins Tunnel in Scott County.

It was Feb. 21, 1880, when the first freight train arrived in Chattanooga from Cincinnati. The first passenger train completed the 336-mile trip on March 8, 1880. The governor of Ohio was among the dignitaries arriving in Chattanooga for festivities.

The Cincinnati Southern's Tennessee River Bridge in Chattanooga was condemned as unsafe in August 1919. For several months traffic had to be routed into town on Chattanooga Traction lines through Red Bank.

The line comes in from Dayton, Sale Creek and Soddy Daisy before arriving at the Tennessee River just below where the Chickamauga Dam was built. Some of the original stone piers still help support the lengthy railroad bridge below the dam. 

It crosses Amnicola Highway on a trestle near the present Chattanooga State Community College. It then goes near the old Kings Point community before a crossing of South Chickamauga Creek..

The track gets closer and closer to the old Western and Atlantic line coming in from around the north end of Missionary Ridge, Then they meet near Billy Goat Hill at the site of the old Boyce station in East Chattanooga. This was near Wilder and Roanoke streets.

The Cincinnati Southern then shared the W&A line on into downtown Chattanooga before later building its own track along the same path.   

The city of Cincinnati still owns the railroad, which is leased to the Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Railway. Though millions in additional bonds had to be issued for the construction of the line, it has proven to be a moneymaker for Cincinnati and still supports some of its capital projects.

There is an iron bridge over the wide array of freight tracks at Wilder Street. The handsome Boyce station is long gone.



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