Chattanooga Railroad Series: Orme, Tn.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 - by John Wilson

There is little remaining of the glory days of Orme, Tn., in Marion County just down the road from Russell Cave National Monument, except for the quaint passenger depot. And it's for sale.

Michael Hawkins, of Orme and Soddy Daisy, said it has been in the family since 1963, but he no longer has time for it. He is asking $45,000 cash.

The wooden depot near the end of Doran's Cove just above the Alabama state line has plenty of charm. It still retains the Orme station sign on either end.

Mayor Jerry Godsby said the town would like to take ownership of the depot and have it as a town center, but it cannot afford to buy it.

When Orme was in the boom days of the coal mining, it had 3,000 residents. Mayor Godsby said, "We just had a man and his wife and their two children move to Bridgeport, so we are down to 129."

Orme, in the mining days, had a hotel, a commissary and two school houses (one for whites and one for blacks). The railroad operation included a water tower, scales for weighing coal cars, a  turntable, a cable incline to the top of the nearby mountain, and a tipple.

The train ran twice a day, and there was no charge to ride it into Bridgeport.

The Orme railroad was a 10.5-mile spur off the Sequatchie Valley Railroad that started a mile from Bridgeport. It ran along what today is the country road that leads past the entrance to Russell Cave and then to a dead end just past Orme. The line was completed in 1902 at a cost of $81,267.02.

All that is gone, including the handsome, two-story frame schoolhouse. Two carpenters were allowed to take it down in 1982 for its fine poplar wood.

The town was first called Needmore, but it was changed by mine owner R.O. Campbell in honor of his son, Orme Campbell.

The mining continued for some four decades before it was finally halted after a strike by miners.

The track was taken up in the early 1940s and the rail used for the war effort.

A post office and store continued in the depot until 1964.




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