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.



    Chattanooga Pimp Gets Extra 6 Months In Federal Prison For Courtroom Behavior

    Federal Judge Travis McDonough has sentenced a Chattanooga pimp to an extra six months in federal prison due to his behavior during his recent trial on kidnapping and sex trafficking. The judge found Corrie Gillispie guilty of contempt of court. Judge McDonough said Gillispie would talk over him and others each time there was an attempt to bring him to trial. He said he did ... (click for more)

    Rucker Charged With Assaulting Officer, Drug Possession

    An officer said Joshua Rucker actively resisted during a traffic stop on Saturday on Cooley Street. Rucker, 28, was charged with assault on police, resisting arrest, evading arrest, possession of marijuana for resale, possession of ecstasy, and failure to exercise due care. The officer said he was in a marked patrol car at Dodds Avenue and Windsor Street in a section known ... (click for more)

    Set Up A Council On Love, Not A Council On Hate

    In Mayor Berke's April 19 version of the Berke Bulletin, he announced plans to establish a Council on Hate and indicated a focus on tolerance. I beg of him to reconsider that plan. One problem in Chattanooga and in other places in America is that there are some people who have already established an informal version of a Council on Hate. I suggest that a more productive plan ... (click for more)

    Roy Exum: Always Know The Facts

    I adore the fact so many of America’s high school and college students are very active in our battle against violence in our schools but bemoan the fact that when you combine youth and ‘lack of experience’ they often are misguided and ill-informed. The best example came on Saturday when a reporter for Campus Reform walked around the Cal State-Santa Barbara campus asking the students ... (click for more)

    McCallie Hires Former CCS Coach David Conrady

    Veteran coach David Conrady will take over as the McCallie Blue Tornado varsity basketball coach for the 2018-2019 season, bringing an experienced leader and motivator to the Ridge to lead the Blue Tornado basketball program, school officials said. Conrady, who comes to McCallie from Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano, Texas, replaces John Shulman, who left McCallie following ... (click for more)

    GPS Graduate Jasmine Brown To Return To Alma Mater As Varsity Head Volleyball Coach

    Jasmine Brown, GPS Class of 2009, has been named the varsity head coach at Girls Preparatory School. Her experience as a GPS student-athlete, NCAA Division I volleyball player, high school coach, K2 Volleyball Club head coach, and Division I college coach gives her a wealth of skill and understanding to help her thrive in her new position, school officials said. “I am really ... (click for more)