Chattanooga Railroad Series - Belt Line (10th Street to the National Cemetery)

Friday, March 14, 2014 - by John Wilson

Passenger trains once ran on a route from downtown Chattanooga from the vicinity of East 11th Street in several different directions, including East Chattanooga, Ridgedale, East Lake and St. Elmo.

The Belt Line started out in the mid-1880s as a freight service, servicing factories and warehouses away from the main lines.

Soon Charles E. James saw an opportunity for adding passenger service. For a few years, it turned out to be a more prosperous venture than the freight operation.

James wanted to build a connection to downtown from his Belt Line tracks near National Cemetery by a route near 11th Street. One obstacle was a hill where the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad had placed its tracks leading from across the current UTC campus to near King and Market streets and on to the Union Depot.

James set a group of workmen forging a tunnel under the East Tennessee line. When it was finished in 1887, he was ready to build a passenger station on property at Newby Street by 10th Street. This original station was soon improved so that several trains could be served. The last version of the Newby Street Depot still stands at 10th and Newby. The two-story brick building is the west end of the Senior Neighbors building. A section to the east was added later.

A few years later, James extended the Belt Line tracks a little closer to town to a new depot on Georgia Avenue. That site is now occupied by the Federal Building. The track crossed 10th Street just east of the Newby Street Depot and went behind the later Davenport Hosiery Mill that fronted on Ninth Street.

Some of the tracks are still in place on the route that once carried dozens of passengers each day.

The route went between 10th and 11th, going behind some old brick buildings that have long fronted on 11th across from the old Fleetwood Coffee Company. It ran across what was the Davenport Hosiery Mill and then a newspaper (first the Chattanooga News-Free Press, then the Chattanooga Times Free Press).

The right of way is still in place where the line headed for the opening under the East Tennessee line.

Tracks are still in place as well as a Railroad Crossing sign at the Baldwin Street crossing. There are more tracks and crossing signs at Palmetto, where the line begins the turn under the 11th Street Bridge.

There's an odd-shaped old building still standing just west of the bridge and the old Mills and Lupton Supply is on the other side. A dilapidated old loading dock is next to the tracks at the old supply business.

Near the bridge the secluded site has become a homeless cafeteria with styrofoam takeout boxes piled high.

The track next approached the Onion Bottom section where there was a city dump and later city public works yards. There are tracks and a crossing sign at a quaint old service station at Park Avenue. Another crossing sign is at Fairview Avenue where the street is now gated off, but the tracks have been taken up here.

The Belt Line then crossed where the Western and Atlantic tracks began curving toward the Union Depot.

They paralleled Central Avenue until curving to a crossing of Central at the current T.T. Wilson company.

The Belt Line then went along the south boundary of the National Cemetery behind 13th Street. The old right of way is still in view. The line curved near an old mattress factory and a casket factory to join another Belt Line route that goes by Holtzclaw Avenue.  

The Belt Line passenger service may have prospered for a few years, but competition from the new electric streetcars soon meant the end of the line.

However, freight continued to be hauled along this line as late as the late 1980s when the Chattanooga News Free Press got shipments of newsprint by rail.



Red Bank Commission Agenda For Tuesday

Here is the Red Bank Commission for Tuesday at 7 p.m.: I. Call to Order – Mayor John Roberts II. Roll Call – City Manager ___ Mayor Roberts, ___ Vice-Mayor Floy Pierce, ___ Commissioner Causer, ___ Commissioner Eddie Pierce III. Invocation – IV. Pledge of Allegiance – V. Consideration of the Minutes for approval or correction: A. November 15, 2016 ... (click for more)

Walker County Arrest Report For Nov. 28-Dec. 4

Here is the Walker County arrest report for Nov. 28-Dec. 4: JORDAN        LORIE KAY   W/F     31        Officer WOOTEN      POSSESSION MARIJUANA (LESS OZ) GROSS           DANIEL         ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Couldn't Manage Public Education

I have been reading the buzz about Signal Mountain and other small municipalities considering a move to form their own school district within their municipal boundaries.  It is quite the comedy hour considering the notion that small cities that for decades could not even manage small sewer systems or 911 districts, are somehow going to do a better job with public education ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: School Board Can’t Wait

It took the Hamilton County School board nine months before the group hired a search firm to find a new superintendent. But you mark my words – the Department of Education will undoubtedly implode if our leaders wait another nine months simply hoping for some type of mystical salvation. In the last week Signal Mountain leaders have all but given notice they will form their own district ... (click for more)

It's Tennessee Vs. Nebraska In The Music City Bowl

 Tennessee has accepted an invitation to play the Nebraska in the Music City Bowl on    Dec. 30   at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. Tickets for the Music City Bowl will be available for purchase in the coming days via AllVols.com. "Our entire program is excited about representing the University of Tennessee at the Music City Bowl," Vols ... (click for more)

UTC Women's Hoops: Mocs Host Stetson Tonight

Coming off an 80-60 road win against UT-Martin Saturday, the UTC women's basketball team hosts Stetson tonight at McKenzie Arena at 6:30 p.m. Stetson (8-1) has won four in a row and is led by guard Biantt Saunders is six points  away from breaking the Hatters all-time scoring record currently held by Sasha Sims, who scored 1,617 points from 2010-14. In the UT-Martin ... (click for more)