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.


    Many Photos Of Fairyland Development Featured In New Hiener Photo Book

    Many photos of the Fairyland development on Lookout Mountain are featured in the new historic photo book being published by Garnet and Frieda Carter carried out the fanciful development in the 1920s. It was during the construction that the game of miniature golf was invented when a golf ball was hit through a drain pipe at the job site. It was first called ... (click for more)

    Upcoming City Council Agenda For Tuesday

    Here is the upcoming City Council agenda for Tuesday: I. Call to Order. II. Pledge of Allegiance/Invocation (Chairman Freeman). III. Minute Approval. IV. Special Presentation. “Mayor’s Proclamation for Domestic Violence Awareness Month” Councilwoman Carol Berz and the Family Justice Center V. Ordinances – Final Reading: POLICE a. An ordinance ... (click for more)

    Bobby Stone, Is It Really A Win?

    It brought a smile to my face this morning when I saw where the case was thrown out of court against Mr. Stone and the domestic violence charge.  I have supported his cause from the beginning, but I do feel heartbreak because his personal life had to be tossed out there for all of us to see.   I truly hope and pray things turn around for him and his wife, while I feel ... (click for more)

    Roy Exum: Kelly Could Win It

    I am neither a sleuth nor an odds maker but I’d say there is about a one-in-three chance that Interim Hamilton County Department of Education Superintendent Kirk Kelly could become the permanent superintendent of our public schools next Thursday. I am assured something squirrelly is happening on our newly-seated school board. It has been seven months since the last superintendent ... (click for more)

    Ooltewah Rallies To Beat Cleveland 37-24 In Key Region 4-5A Battle

    (Story will be updated) Shaking off three lost fumbles and an interception in the first half, Ooltewah settled down and rallied from a 10-point deficit to pull away late and defeat Cleveland, 37-24, in a Region 4-5A football showdown at James N. Monroe Stadium on a chilly Friday night. The visiting Blue Raiders took full advantage of the Owls’ early mistakes and built ... (click for more)

    Signal Mountain Falls To Knox Catholic In AA Final

    MURFREESBORO – There were five state championships awarded for high school volleyball at MTSU’s Murphy Center Friday, but none of them came back to Chattanooga. Baylor finished second to Briarcrest while Signal Mountain also had to settle for the runner-up award after losing in three straight sets to Knoxville Catholic. The Lady Irish, improving to 32-11 for the season, won ... (click for more)