Chattanooga Railroad Series: Belt Line (Highland Park And Ridgedale)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - by John Wilson

When it was decided in 1886 to add passenger service to the Belt Line, the first route placed in service went through the promising new suburb of Highland Park to near the foot of Missionary Ridge at Ridgedale.

The new track curved away from the line that ran by the National Cemetery at Bennett Avenue. It went straight for Missionary Ridge along Anderson Avenue starting at Greenwood Avenue.

The track crossed Highland Park Avenue, Hickory Street, Holly Street, Hawthorne Street and Beech Street. It went on across Orchard Knob Avenue, Willow Street, Beech Street, Kelley Street and Lyerly Street.

After Watkins Street, and just before reaching Buckley Street, it veered straight south to head for Fort Cheatham and East Lake.

The line was an immediate success for owner Charles E. James. It initially used one locomotive and two coaches to carry passengers from the downtown station at Chestnut Street. There were seven round trips per day - leaving downtown at 6 a.m., 7 a.m., 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. as well as 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Cost of a trip one way was five cents.

Within the first week, it was hauling as many as 2,200 passengers a day. By November 1886, the line carried up to 3,500 passengers a day.

But by 1889 the new electric streetcars - faster and with more direct routes - began siphoning off the Belt Line passengers.

In February 1892, the Belt Line passenger service to Highland Park that had seemed so promising was discontinued.

Freight service continued on the Belt Line, including servicing the Dixie Mercerizing Plant built on Watkins Street in 1920 to process Mercerized cotton.

It is still easy to trace the Belt Line's Highland Park route, though most of the tracks are gone.

The curve that begins at Bennett Avenue near the National Cemetery is near the Lucey Boiler facility and is now called Lucey Street.

The old rail bed is evident in a wide grassy expanse just to the left of Anderson Avenue.

The first tracks come into view as the line approaches the old Dixie Mercerizing facility. More tracks are on Watkins Street, along with a metal support over a ditch.

The line extends on near Buckley Street to what is now the Ridgedale Greenwalk.

The right of way then goes near Buckley Street to just south of the old Cotten Patch drive in on Main Street. Some of the heavy cross ties from the Belt Line were used on the Cotten Patch parking lot.


    Authorities Searching For Man Who Escaped From Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute

    Dustin Adams, 26,  walked away from a court ordered evaluation at Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute. Officials from the Institute reported him missing at approximately  7:37 p.m .  Hamilton County Sheriff’s Corrections officers signed Adams over to the Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute on Tuesday. Adams was not in the custody of the HCSO at ... (click for more)

    Congress Sends President First State Department Authorization In 14 Years

    Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,  on Saturd ay announced that for the first time  in 14 years , a State Department authorization bill will be sent to the president’s desk to be signed into law. The Senate unanimously approved   S.1635   on Saturday. It is legislation referred to the Senate earlier this week from the ... (click for more)

    New School Funding Ideas

    After reading the article “County Schools Prepare To Set Priorities For Next Round Of School Building Funding,” I could not help but think about how helpful it would be to have the millions of taxpayer dollars given the owners of Walnut Common apartments to build some new schools.   In case you did not know, since 2008 our elected officials have given away millions in taxpayer ... (click for more)

    Roy Exum: John Glenn’s ‘Hero’

    When John Glenn became the first man to orbit earth, the timing was perfect. I was 13 years old at the time, in need of a hero, and I latched on to the astronaut tighter than a tick. All of us boys knew he’d flown 150 missions in fighters in World War II and Korea and, believe me, he was “The Right Stuff” long before the great movie about the Mercy 7 daredevils came out about 30 ... (click for more)

    Cleveland Shocks Bradley To Win Cleveland Duals

    CLEVELAND – There have been a lot of positive and memorable experiences for the Cleveland Blue Raider wrestling team in recent years, but they’ll have a tough time topping the one they had in their own gym Saturday. Hosting the annual Cleveland Duals and certainly a team considered one of the pre-tournament favorites, the Blue Raiders beat three of the top four teams in the state, ... (click for more)

    Heights Rallies For 72-67 Victory Over Athlete Institute

    Kentucky signee Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored a team-high 26 points Saturday as Hamilton Heights rallied for a hard-fought 72-67 victory against Athlete Institute of Canada in the Buckeye Elite Showcase in Portsmouth, Ohio. The Hawks (7-2) built a 19-16 first-quarter lead, but fell behind 40-32 at halftime and still trailed 58-49 going into the fourth period at Portsmouth ... (click for more)