Chattanooga Railroad Series: W&A Beyond Missionary Ridge

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Western and Atlantic - the first railroad built into Chattanooga - takes a route around the north end of Missionary Ridge that avoided a tunnel through the ridge, but resulted in numerous crossings of the winding South Chickamauga Creek.

The line heads past Missionary Ridge for Lightfoot Mill Road where the Lightfoot family long operated a mill on this section of the creek. 

After crossing Lightfoot Mill Road near Allied Metal, the line curves to the right and goes under a trestle for the old East Tennessee line before making its third crossing of South Chickamauga Creek.

It then goes behind the former location of the Tennessee Department of Transportation on Cromwell Road. At this point, the W&A is just a short distance from the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum headquarters.

The line crosses Cromwell Road at grade, then goes under Shallowford Road near Vulcan Materials.

There is a spur off the W&A near Stein Paving. One branch goes across Quintus Loop toward Polymer Drive. Another heads for the Wrigley plant. This spur crosses Shallowford Road by Jersey Pike.

The main line goes across Friar Branch as it heads for the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport. As it reaches Airport Road, there is a spur that crosses West Polymer Drive and then East Polymer Drive. 

The main line hugs Airport Road before going under the Airport Connector that leads to Highway 153.

Though they are side by side, there is no interaction between these two main transit lines - the airport and the main train (now only freight) to Atlanta.

The W&A continues on until it reaches the Lee Highway Viaduct by Southeastern Salvage. It then passes near Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts (formerly Elbert Long School) before going under a bridge on East Brainerd Road.

The line goes by the Hamilton Pointe development and behind the Social Security office before going by Brown Acres Golf Course. Then it goes under Interstate 75 not far from its junction with Interstate 24.

The W&A has two more crossings of South Chickamauga Creek before reaching Audubon Acres, where some of the original rails from the 1849 line have been found and are on display.  

It continues on by the old Joe Engel farm, where the Council Fire development was built.





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