Chattanooga Railroad Series: Chickamauga And Durham Railroad (To Wallaceville)

Monday, January 1, 0001

A railroad once ran from Chickamauga, Ga., to a coal mining community called Durham on Lookout Mountain.

The building of a railroad across a series of hills to the foot of the mountain and then ascending the mountain itself was a prodigious task. It was accomplished using convicts supplied by the state, who were armed only with picks, hammers and spikes, and blasting powder.

The end of the line in the valley was at a curve in the road from Wallaceville to Chickamauga, where over 100 coke ovens were set up. Tracks were extended along the length of the ovens.

Many of the Chickamauga coke ovens have been preserved in a small park, and Coke Oven Branch runs nearby. However, the tracks are long gone as all of the track from Chickamauga to Durham was long ago taken up.

There is no sign of where the tracks left the Chickamauga terminus headed for the mountain, but the rail bed can be picked up just past a nearby ball park. The ball field was built over a section of the rail bed. The line is clearly visible as it crosses a power line and heads for the Wallaceville School. A chain link fence was built across the rail bed a short distance from the school.

Wallaceville School Road was built along the old Chickamauga to Durham line. One section shows steep banks on both sides - usually a sure sign of an old rail bed. At the end of this road, the rail bed is behind some houses before coming back out on Marbletop Road. A raised section of the rail bed is visible in a yard just before Marbletop.

Here the rail line moves away from the Chickamauga Road (Highway 341) by going through a different gap in the hills. The line goes across along what is now Harp Switch Road and follows it all the way to Mill Wee Hollow Road. There are several curves as well as one steep uphill section. This part of Harp Switch Road passes by Simmons-Tawzer Road. 

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