Tri-state (TN-GA-AL) Rail Stops - Chattanooga Extension Railroad

Saturday, October 1, 2016 - by Chuck Hamilton

CHATTANOOGA EXTENSION RAILROAD, 1859

 

The first effort to build a line connecting Chattanooga to the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad (ET&G) was launched by the Chattanooga, Harrison, and Cleveland Railroad Company in 1850.  This reorganized in 1852 as the Chattanooga, Harrison, Georgetown, and Charleston Railroad Company and began work in 1854.  The company graded some roadbed and began excavating the tunnel through Missionary Ridge, then went bankrupt.  Amalgamation of the company with the ET&G to allow the construction to proceed was hindered temporarily by a lawsuit brought by the Chattanooga, Blue Springs, and Cleveland Railroad Company, which had also been granted a charter for a branch route between the two towns.  In the end, the ET&G won out, redrew the route, completed the tunnel, and finished the branch railroad.  The company officially named the passageway through the ridge Whiteside Tunnel after James Whiteside of Chattanooga, one of the company’s directors and one of the town’s early leaders.  The new section opened for traffic into Chattanooga in 1859.

 The official industry name for this section, at least at the time, is the Chattanooga Extension, though on maps of the period, especially Union maps during the war, it appears as Chattanooga and Cleveland Railroad.  For the first few decades of its existence, it appeared in timetables of the Official Railway Guide as the Chattanooga Branch Railroad, though integrated into the main schedule of the ET&G.

 As part of the U.S. Military Rail Roads during the Civil War, this section formed part of the Chattanooga and Knoxville Railroad.

 In 1869, the ET&G and the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad (Knoxville to Bristol) consolidated to form the East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia Railroad (ETV&G).  The ETV&G Railroad went under in 1886, and was reorganized as the ETV&G Railway by its new owners.  This company merged with the Richmond and Danville Railroad into Southern Railway (SOU) in 1894; these stations here became part of SOU’s Bristol and Chattanooga Division.  In 1982, SOU  merged with Norfolk and Western Railway to form Norfolk-Southern Railway, and has operated under that name ever since.

 The stations on the Chattanooga Extension of the ET&G and its successors were as follows.

 Cleveland

 This scheduled stop and coupon station was the junction of the Chattanooga Extension to what was then ET&G’s main line.

 For more information, see the section on the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad.

 Black Fox

 This initially schedule and later signal stop stood at the little community named for the Cherokee leader who lived in the vicinity after the Cherokee-American Wars.  The community has migrated about a mile northeast of its original location near the station, which stood at the crossing of the railroad by the old Chattanooga-Cleveland Pike.

 The post office of Black Fox operated from 1885 until 1915.

 Tucker Springs

 This tiny community at this signal stop centers around the crossing of the railroad by the old Chattanooga-Cleveland Pike, where its station once stood.  It primarily serviced a resort centered around the Tucker Springs Hotel.

 The post office of Tucker Springs operated from 1903 until 1925.

 McDonald

 Originally called McDonald, then Hinches Station, and finally switched back to McDonald, this schedule stop stood about five-and-a-half miles from Cleveland.  Besides the railway stop, the main attraction was the New Lauderback Springs Hotel.  A small community is still there.

 The post office of McDonald was established in 1860.

 Mineral Park

 At the very western edge of Bradley County, the community grew out of a resort comprised of Mineral Springs Park at which the Mineral Springs Inn was built in 1910.  Being right on the railroad rather than merely near it gave the resort a significant advantage.  The signal stop was built especially to service the resort and its guests.

 The post office of Mineral Park operated from 1914 until 1930.

 Wells

 The first station in Hamilton County was this signal stop at the eastern mouth of Julian, or Dead Man’s Gap opposite the end of Edgemon Road.  Its original antebellum name was Sulphur Springs Station, and it was probably then a schedule stop.

 Ooltewah

 Seat of James County, Tennessee from 1870 until 1919 when it was reintegrated into Hamilton County.  This depot stood at the town’s eastern edge near the western mouth of Dead Man’s Gap, and the town, laid out in neat squares, grew south of the railroad.  The third James County Courthouse still stands in the eastern part of the town proper. 

 Until 1882, this was the only station in Ooltewah and a schedule stop, which it remained into the early 20th century after it neighbor began operating.  In the 1910s, however, it downgraded to a signal stop then closed.  That closure, however, did not leave the town without railroad service.

 During the Civil War, there was an engagement 24-25 November 1863; two during the winter bivouac on 21 January 1864 and 18-19 February; and a fourth on 4 February 1865, the last such recorded in Hamilton County.  The region to the north also hosted one of the bigger bushwacker groups (the period term for Confederate guerrillas) in the vicinity active during the occupation, Snow’s Scouts.  During the Federal Military Occupation, a blockhouse guarded the depot here.

 The post office was first established here in 1837, but was moved east as Julian Gap in 1843.  It returned to Ooltewah in 1859, and has operated there ever since.

 Ooltewah Junction

 Between 1882 and the 1910s, the town of Ooltewah was serviced by two railroad depots.  For more information, see the section on the Tennessee State Line Railroad.

 Summit

 With its railway platform probably located opposite the end of School Street off the old Chattanooga-Cleveland Pike, this signal stop began as a wood station before the steam locomotives started burning coal.

 Tyner

 Originally called Tynerville, this schedule stop lasted until 1970, and was servicing passengers at least as late as 1960.  The depot was north of the tracks and east of the old stage road from Harrison now known as Hickory Valley Road.  The village grew north towards the Chattanooga-Cleveland Pike (now Bonny Oaks Drive).  After the Civil War, an Afro-American settlement called Hawkinsville grew north of Chattanooga-Cleveland Pike along the old stage road. 

 When the U.S. Army established the TNT plant in 1940, the residents of both communities were removed, and my great-grandfather lost his store at the intersection of Hickory Valley Road and Chattanooga-Cleveland Pike.  Residents of Tyner mostly relocated south of the tracks within reach of the still-operating depot, while those of Hawkinsville moved further south to New Hawkinsville along Pinewood Drive (my great-grandparents moved to Ryall Springs).

 During the summer of 1863, Cleburne’s Division of the (Confederate) Army of Tennessee was stationed in the area, and in Harrison.  Of the five redoubts they built in the vicinity, two guarded Tyner, one on the hill where Tyner Middle Academy now stands, and the other in the village of Tyner itself, where Cleburne had his headquarters. 

 In the retreat of the Army of Tennessee from Chickamauga Station to Ringgold on 26 November 1863, a skirmish took place here between the 55th Ohio Volunteers of Howard’s 11th Corps and the 4th Kentucky Infantry of Lewis’ Kentucky Orphan Brigade.  During the Federal Military Occupation, a blockhouse guarded the depot here.

 The second of the Cleburne redoubts mentioned above, the one in the former village of Tyner, is in good enough condition of preservation to be restored to the state of Fort Harker in Stevenson, Alabama, which would be a great attraction for tourists and Civil War buffs.

 The post office of Tynersville was established in 1860, changing later that year to just Tyner, operating until 1972.

 Jersey

 Initially called Carr’s Station then renamed for the primary cargo boarded there for shipping (Jersey cows), this schedule stop stood at the crossing of the railroad by Jersey Pike, the sole remaining witness to this station’s former existence.

 The post office of Jersey operated from 1889 until 1904, when it was moved to Sherman Heights (see below).

 Grand Junction

 Not a historical depot, but the main station of the Tennessee Valley Railroad (TVR), the steam railway operated by the TVR Museum.  On the Mission Ridge Local, the TVR carries passengers on tracks along the old ETV&G right-of-way, donated by Southern Railway, through the Whiteside Tunnel, stopping at its East Chattanooga Station before proceeding to Terminal Station downtown.  The TVR offers longer trips such as the Chickamauga Turn and the Summerville Steam Specials.  The TVR runs its Hiwassee River Rail Adventure out of its Etowah Station, the original L&N depot which has been restored.  The address for Grand Junction Station is 4119 Cromwell Road.

 Chickamauga Junction

 The bridge of the ET&G and its successors over the tracks of the Western and Atlantic (W&A), and during the Federal Military Occupation the site of a physical junction of the two railways. 

 For further information, see the section on the Western and Atlantic Railroad.

 McCarty

 This station stood where Allied Shipping now operates used by both this railroad and the W&A. 

 For further information, see the section on the Western and Atlantic Railroad.

 East Chattanooga

 Before and during the Civil War, there was a depot at this schedule stop called Glass Station until it burned in the Battle of Tunnel Hill, Tn.  After the war, the ET&G built another depot north of the tracks inside the loop that now connects Awtry Street to Arno Street, called Tunnel from the surrounding community.  The name briefly changed to Arno in the early 1880s.  In 1888, the name again changed, to Sherman Heights.  This depot burned down in 1913, and SOU rebuilt east of the tracks and south of Crutchfield Street but named this one East Chattanooga, at almost the same site of the Tennessee Valley Railroad’s own station of this name.  Sherman Heights was also a stop on the Union Railway of Chattanooga, but not at this depot.

 The name Sherman Heights derived from the main action of the Battle of Missionary Ridge on 25 November between the 15th Corps of the Union Army of the Tennessee and Cleburne’s Divison of the Confederate Army of Tennessee lasting from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm.  The action devastated the entire area, especially the Glass farm for which the district is now named.  To balance the scales and honor the Confederate victor of the engagement, residents christened the premier guest house and meeting hall on Glass Street as the Cleburne Hotel.

 Sherman’s Reservation of the Chickamauga-Chattanooga Park occupies the entire top of Tunnel/Trueblood Hill, and while rivaling Point Park as the crown of the park in Chattanooga with its unparalleled view of the city, is also the most neglected and least easily accessible, especially to the movement-impaired.

 The post office of Mission Ridge was established in what was then still called Tunnel in 1884, and renamed Sherman Heights in 1888 after the community adopted that name the previous year.  Like East Chattanooga P.O. in Boyce, it was moved to Chattanooga in 1905.  Sherman Heights merged with Boyce as the town of East Chattanooga later that same year.

 Citico Junction

 Initially, the first junction of this railroad with the W&A coming into Chattanooga. 

 For further information, see the section on the Western and Atlantic Railroad.

 King Street Junction

 The second junction of this railroad with the W&A on its way to Union Depot was just east of what’s now King Street and south of what would be East 13th Street.  From here, the two railroads used the same tracks to their terminus.  King Street did not exist at the time but I have not been able to discover the name of the junction.  At least before and during the Civil War, a depot stood east of the V of this junction.  The former site of both is now occupied by Docu-Shred LLC at 1208 King Street.

 Chattanooga

 The ET&G used the Union Depot from 1859 until it became part of the later the ETV&G in 1869, after which the latter used it until 1888, when the Central Depot opened at Market and West 13th Streets.  After it became part of SOU, that use continued until 1909 when the Terminal Station opened on South Market Street.  Terminal Station closed for passenger service in 1970, and in 1973 reopened as the Chattanooga Choo-Choo.

 For further Chattanooga information, see the section on the Western and Atlantic Railroad.

Chuck Hamilton

<natty4bumpo@gmail.com>


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