Chattanooga Railroad Series: The Belt Line (South Chattanooga)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - by John Wilson

Residents were startled recently to see an engine pulling several rail cars crossing South Broad Street.

It once was a common sight, but it doesn't happen very often now.

That train was traveling on a section of the Belt Line that was built well over a century ago. Much of its track is still intact and some of it is in use.

In South Chattanooga, the Belt Line went past the Wheland Foundry site near the river and then veered away from the river to a crossing of the main line coming in from Nashville.

It then entered a marshy section near Chattanooga Creek known on old maps as "No Man's Land." 

The Belt Line then went across Chattanooga Creek on a wooden trestle.

It crossed St. Elmo Avenue and South Broad Street at grade. This was at a time when there was little traffic on these streets and an occasional train was not felt to be too much of an intrusion.

Then it intersected with the streetcar line that went to St. Elmo at what is now Williams Street.

There was then a long isolated stretch before it crossed Alton Park Boulevard - also at grade. When it was built, there was no Alton Park Boulevard.

The Belt Line went straight a short distance in the direction of Missionary Ridge, then it veered north toward the National Cemetery. It went by the Lookout Place home of Capt. J.F. Shipp and then trestled Chattanooga Creek once again.

When a tunnel was built at the north end of Lookout Mountain in the early 1900s, this new Southern Railway route followed part of the old Belt Line section starting just above Alton Park Boulevard. The TAG line also followed this old route into town, veering off the Belt Line route just east of Alton Park Boulevard. This would become the main line through town.

There is a line still intact that veered off the main Belt Line track at St. Elmo Avenue toward the J.H. Allison packing plant. The rails split in the middle of the road. This spur went along Chattanooga Creek. The rails still remain, but the line is grown up in briers. 





    Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

    Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: AUTRY, JERMEKA RENEE  5141 WOODLIN VIEW CIR CHATTANOOGA, 37410  Age at Arrest: 24 years old Arresting Agency: East Ridge Booked for Previous Charges or Other Reason(s) --- BATY, JASON BRENT  1071 RAVEN CLIFF RD GRAYSVILLE, 37338  Age at Arrest: 41 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga ... (click for more)

    Consumer Protection Bill Sponsored By Rep. Travis Passes House Unanimously

    Legislation sponsored by Rep. Ron Travis (R-Dayton) that strengthens Tennessee’s consumer protection laws was approved.   House Bill 1879,  which passed by a 91-0 vote tally, prohibits members of the health care industry from soliciting business from victims of accidents or natural disasters for a period of 30 days following an incident. The measure exempts ... (click for more)

    Why Are Pictures Of Our President And Vice President Not Hanging At Our Federal Courthouse?

    I would like to know why the pictures of our President and Vice President have not been hung in our Federal Courthouse. They have been approved by the White House. Every time I call they tell me they are on order. Tommy Fryar (click for more)

    Roy Exum: Battling The Beggars

    The revelation that Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy wants to crack down on the city’s panhandlers is every bit as refreshing as the beautiful jonquils now bursting forth across our city. In a recent poll on, over 80 percent of those who live here indicated they are scared to go downtown and that is inexcusable. This is no way for anyone to live. But I can ... (click for more)

    Vols Suffer Heartbreaking Loss To Loyola, 63-62

    No. 3 seed Tennessee's season came to an end on Saturday night as the Vols suffered a heartbreaking loss to 11th-seeded Loyola-Chicago, 63-62, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.   The Vols (26-9) made one last push at the end of the game, using an 8-0 run to take a 62-61 lead with 20 seconds remaining in the game, capped off by a three-point play from SEC Player ... (click for more)

    UTC's Carr Run at NCAAs Ends in the Blood Round

    University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior Bryce Carr's run at the NCAA Championships ended tonight in the blood round at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.  Carr fell to Cornell's Max Dean in the final match of his career. Carr was the aggressor early, with two takedowns in the first period.  He opened up a 4-2 lead after the first period, but could not put ... (click for more)