Chattanooga Railroad Series: Graysville

Monday, August 25, 2014 - by John Wilson

The major contractor for the first train into Chattanooga was so fond of the territory along the route heading into Chattanooga that he bought a large amount of property on South Chickamauga Creek and laid out a town.

John D. Gray made his own home at the town of Graysville, Ga. - just north of Tunnel Hill and Ringgold.

Gray and his two brothers, William and Robert, were born in England, but made their way to the South and caught the first wave of railroad building. The enterprising brothers were also involved in steamboating, canal building, manufacturing and construction of courthouses and other public buildings. They were involved in building the first railroad in the South at South Carolina.

William Gray set up his operation at Macon, Ga., while John D. Gray went on to win the contract for the Western and Atlantic Railroad, which set Chattanooga as its northern terminus. Gray built the tunnel at Tunnel Hill, then brought the line on by Graysville and around the north end of Missionary Ridge - avoiding another tunnel. However, John D. Gray a few years later built a tunnel through the north end of Missionary Ridge for the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad.

At Graysville, John D. Gray established the Graysville Mining and Manufacturing Company. It built a large grist mill on South Chickamauga Creek. There was also a furniture factory, barrel factory, distillery and lime mining and processing operation.

Gray's home was burned during the Civil War, but he afterward returned to Graysville. He died there in 1878.

The foundation of the grist mill still stands. A house was built on the foundation in later years.

An old Gray home that was long occupied by a nephew of John D. Gray is standing at Graysville.

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