Chattanooga Railroad Series: Belt Line (East Lake)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - by John Wilson

Much of the old Belt Line that travels through East Lake still looks like it is in plenty good enough shape for a locomotive to come barreling along with several rail cars in tow. But none come.

Starting at 34th Street, the tracks are firmly in place and there are a series of crossings still outfitted with elaborate crossing signals and lights.

At 34th is where the Belt Line once served the Richmond Spinning Mill. Later, it was the home of the Chris-Craft boat building operation.

A mesh of Belt Line tracks lead past the East Lake Academy. School buses that serve the school still stop faithfully at the many Belt Line crossings in East Lake, though no trains have passed by in many years.

Starting at 36th Street, the Belt Line curves down to 7th Avenue as it follows the outfield at Darwin Field. There are major crossing mechanisms as it goes by J.D. Helton Roofing and Leeco Steel. Spurs still lead toward the steel plant and there is a rail car in sight along with a pile of crossties up above the main line.

The Belt Line continues straight as 7th Avenue makes a sharp curve. It goes over another street crossing with elaborate markings. Nearby the main Belt Line is gated off at one plant.

The old line goes by the site of the original Ernest Holmes Wrecking operation on 43rd Street.

As Rossville Boulevard comes into sight, it makes a curve toward the north. A huge crossing bar is at  Rossville Boulevard. Then the line heads by the Brainerd Lumber Company to merge with the current Central of Georgia line. The Central of Georgia follows from this point on the original Belt Line route back to town.

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