Chattanooga Railroad Series: The Belt Line (South Chattanooga)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - by John Wilson

(Chattanooga in the 1890s had 10 railway outlets with 66 passenger trains arriving and departing daily. The town was criss-crossed with train tracks, including not only the main lines but the connecting Belt Line. It's not so often today that you get a glimpse of a train in Chattanooga, but many of the old tracks remain. Many Railroad Crossing signs and switches are still in place, but these days receive little or no use).

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 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. This would become the main line through town.

When the TAG Railroad was built it veered off the Belt Line route just east of Alton Park Boulevard.

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

 

 


Upcoming City Council Agendas

Here are the upcoming City Council agendas: Agenda for Tuesday: I.    Call to Order. II.        Pledge of Allegiance/Invocation (Councilwoman Berz). III.    Minute Approval.              IV.    Special Presentation. V.    Ordinances ... (click for more)

2 Arrested In Bradley County For Burglary Of A Church

Heads-up work by detectives led to the arrest of two suspects in a burglary at Michigan Avenue Baptist Church. The break-in and theft from the church’s annex building where youth worship services are held occurred sometime from April 8 and when it was discovered on April 11.    Early in the investigation detectives found a DVD/VCR unit and dehumidifier that ... (click for more)

State Moving Forward In Educational Improvements

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education released the following statement from President and CEO Jamie Woodson regarding the 2014 legislative session in Tennessee and HB1549/SB1835, which passed the General Assembly Thursday: After a year of extensive public and legislative conversation regarding higher academic standards and related strategies to improve student learning, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Why Jim Coppinger Excels

Jim Coppinger, who as the mayor of Hamilton County has understandably had to grow some thick skin, wants no part of the repulsive billboards now seen around town that ask, “Do you have gonorrhea?”  His Tuesday morning telephone call revealed he is just as disgusted as the rest of us who see them showing a picture of a forlorn African-American male. “You need to know the Hamilton ... (click for more)

Owls' Fugate Fires Two-Hit Shutout In 2-0 Win Over Blue Raiders

Ooltewah was on the verge of a District 5-AAA double-header sweep against Cleveland. But the Blue Raiders’ hot-hitting catcher Hunter Oliver had other ideas. The Owls rode Logan Fugate’s brilliant two-hit shutout and two first-inning runs to a 2-0 win over Cleveland in the first game at A.C. Bud Ball Field on Wednesday. “Logan is an absolute warrior,” Owls coach Brian Hitchcox ... (click for more)

Bucs' Willingham Strikes Out School-Record 17 In 5-A Win

Boyd-Buchanan’s Brandon Willingham threw a three-hit, complete-game gem and set a school record with 17 strikeouts in the Bucs’ 7-1 victory over Copper Basin on Wednesday. Willingham, a sophomore, improved his record to 6-0 on the season while the Bucs went to 14-9 overall and 5-0 in District 5-A. Willingham threw 101 pitches with 73 strikes in dominating the Cougars. Willingham ... (click for more)