Chattanooga Railroad Series: Belt Line (East Chattanooga)

Monday, March 10, 2014 - by John Wilson

 A railroad once chugged its way through East Chattanooga, starting near Warner Park and winding its way several miles past the East Tennessee, Virginia line to the busy Boyce Station, where the Western & Atlantic and Cincinnati Southern lines joined.

The only tracks still located in place on this Belt Line route are at the start of the line at EPB yards across from Warner Park and a small section near Bachman Street.

You can still see where the East Chattanooga route veered away from the Belt Line that went past the National Cemetery and Warner Park. This is between Oak and Vine streets on EPB property near Holtzclaw Avenue.

There is also track at the crossing of Greenwood Avenue.

There is more track at Highland Park Avenue, where a Railroad Crossing sign is still in place, though no trains or streetcars have crossed in decades.Though they no longer serve a utilitarian purpose, hopefully the crossing signs will be allowed to stay in place as part of our rich railroad history.

The route of the East Chattanooga line is visible up Vine Street eastward in the direction of Missionary Ridge. It skirted to the right of the tall peak at Orchard Knob and went a little to the left when Vine Street hit a rise.

The line veered just north of Vine at Hawthorne and continued in a straight line until crossing Kelley Street to the rear of the current Parkridge Hospital. It then went across what is now a Parkridge parking lot.

Then it began to veer north, going across Ivy Street and Fifth Street. Two medical office buildings have been erected where the Belt Line once crossed in the vicinity of Fifth and Fourth streets.

The line continued near Kelley Street passing Garfield, Blackford and Cleveland streets. It is in place as a narrow paved road between Third and Garfield and on between Garfield and Blackford.

After Wilcox Boulevard, it went between Dodson Avenue and Willow Street. Sections of the old route are clearly visible, and it is often used as a pathway.

It crossed Portland Street near Willow and went on past Cooley, Laura and Wilson streets.

Then it curved back east toward the corner of Dodson Avenue and Monroe Street. Here you can clearly see where the East Chattanooga line curved toward the Buster Brown factory. It crossed Camden and Ocoee, then reached Wheeler Street at the corner of Gilbert. A well-preserved section of the line can be seen in this section.

It ran just in front of the former Buster Brown plant. On the other side of the former plant (that is now in use by Memorial Hospital) the Belt Line approached a crossing with the East Tennessee line that came down from the Missionary Ridge tunnel.

Both lines were initially at grade. Later, a high crossing was built across the Belt Line. The high concrete walls are still in place, though the East Tennessee line went out of service after a bypass was built around the north end of Missionary Ridge.

The nearby Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum still uses the at-grade route of the East Tennessee line - making a crossing of the old Belt Line route near the former Bragg Street that is now called Infantry Street.

The East Chattanooga line continues straight north along the current Wheeler Street. It passes Crutchfield Street and then goes acrsoss Glass Street near Latta. You can see the old route in both directions from this Glass Street crossing.

It goes across Daisy, Appling and Fairleigh streets before beginning the curve toward Boyce Station. The route goes by Bachman Street past Taylor. It makes another curve that is still visible at Curtis Street before reaching the corner of Cushman and Roanoke streets.

The East Chattanooga line crosses Stuart Street before reaching the old site of the depot at Wilder Street. There is no trace of the old station, which was torn down when a deep cut was made for the main line. Nearby is an overpass leading over the main tracks to Amnicola Highway.

The Belt Line ran for only a few years in the late 1880s and the early 1890s. It continued in service after it was acquired by Southern Railway. A woman in 2014 remembered visiting her grandfather's house on Arlington Avenue and having the conductor on the Belt Line toss her candy.

     


    Grand Jury No Bills And True Bills

    Here are the latest no bills and true bills from the Hamilton County Grand Jury: No Bills: JACKSON JR, WILLIAM LAWRENCE B 31 M 0 1 GS 1552713 POSS OF COCAINE FOR RESALE JACKSON JR, WILLIAM LAWRENCE B 31 M 0 2 GS 1552715 POSS OF MARIJUANA FOR RESALE JACKSON JR, WILLIAM LAWRENCE B 31 M 0 3 GS 1552716 POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE JACKSON JR, WILLIAM LAWRENCE B 31 ... (click for more)

    Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

    Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: BORKMAN, ERIC 5005 14TH AVE CHATTANOOGA, 37407 38 Tenn Highway Patrol DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE POSSESSING A FIREARM WITH INTENT TO GO ARMED POSSESSING A FIREARM WITH INTENT TO GO ARMED POSS.OF FIREARM WHILE IN COMMISSION OF FELONY POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE DRUGS GENERAL CATEGORY FOR ... (click for more)

    Women Don't Ask For Rape, They Ask For Justice

    The stereotypical irrationality that women typically lie about rape has brought an enormous amount of social stigma to this population. Many like to think that rape is not a huge issue in the United States, and that the media blows it out of proportion. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that approximately 17.7 million females in America have been raped, with 108,612 ... (click for more)

    Roy Exum: Father Kelly’s ‘Hallelujah’

    Last April, in the special way that only some older men are lucky enough to possess, the childish imp came out in Father Ray Kelly. A parish priest in Oldcastle, Ireland, he was conducting wedding vows for a handsome couple when the 62-year-old decided to surprise them with a totally-unscripted rendition of Leonard Cohen’s beautiful song, “Hallelujah.” When he did, there soon ... (click for more)

    TSSAA State Tournament Games Cancelled Due To Weather

    All TSSAA state basketball tournament games scheduled for today have been cancelled due to extremely hazardous road conditions.  Today’s schedule will resume tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. in order to allow extra time to for road conditions to improve in the morning.   Friday’s scheduled semifinal games will be played on Saturday beginning at 1:30 p.m. due ... (click for more)

    Chattanooga To Host National Amateur Soccer Championships

    US Soccer and US Adult Soccer announced this week that Chattanooga's Finley Stadium will host the 2015 National Amateur Championships on May 29-30. There will be one team each from the four top amateur leagues; the National Premier Soccer League, the United Soccer League's Premier Development League and the US Amateur Soccer Association's Open and Amateur Champions.  ... (click for more)