Tri-state (TN-GA-AL) Rail Stops - Chattanooga, Rome, and Columbus Railroad

Monday, October 10, 2016 - by Chuck Hamilton

CHATTANOOGA, ROME, AND COLUMBUS RAILROAD, 1888

 

In 1881, the Rome and Carrolton Railroad Company was chartered to build a railway between these towns.  The company restructured in 1888 and built the Chattanooga, Rome, and Columbus Railroad (CRC) into our city, but no tracks were ever laid southward beyond Carrollton.  The railway was sold in 1897 and renamed the Chattanooga, Rome, and Southern Railroad (CRS).  After another exchange of ownership in 1901, the line became part of the Central of Georgia Railway (COG).  Southern Railway Company (SR) acquired a controlling interest of the railroad in 1963, which it merged with four other Georgia railroads into a single entity named the Central of Georgia Railroad in 1971, which survived as a separate entity after the merger of the parent company into Norfolk Southern Railway in 1982.

Lafayette

The depot at this schedule stop stood across the street from the restored Mars Theater, which stands  at 117 North Chattanooga Street.

Founded as Chattooga in 1835 to be the seat of Walker County, which then included Dade and Catoosa Counties, this city’s named changed to Lafayette in 1836 in honor of the former marquis thereof, Gilbert du Motier (he gave up his title), hero of the American Revolution and of the French Revolution, close friend of Thomas Paine, and one of the two officers who escorted the royal Bourbon couple, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, away from the destruction of Versailles, the other being a guy surnamed Bonaparte.

During the Civil War, the Battle of Lafayette was fought here 24 June 1864 during the Atlanta Campaign.  There were also engagements here on 14 September 1863 in the run-up to the Battle of Chickamauga, and on 12 October 1864 during the Nashville Campaign.

Lafayette today is headquarters for the short-line Chattooga and Chickamauga Railway, which runs from Summerville to Chickamauga.

The post office of Lafayette was established in 1837.

Warrens Station

This schedule stop stood three miles down from Lafayette in the community of Salem, probably at the West Warren Road crossing of the railway.

The post office of Salem operated from 1870 until 1898.

Copeland Station

This schedule stop stood three miles down from Salem in the community of Noble, possibly at the Glass Road crossing.

The post office of Noble operated from 1892 until 1912.

Rock Spring

This schedule stop stood  three miles down from Copeland.

The post office of Rock Spring was established in 1837.

Chickamauga

This schedule stop was first named Crawfish Springs after the community in which it sat, named for the huge springs here.  In 1891, the town incorporated as Chickamauga to take advantage of its proximity to the Chickamauga Battlefield Reservation, and the name of the station changed with it.  The fine stone depot, built in 1891, remains, serving as a museum and visitors’ center.

Before the Cherokee Removal, the site served as the seat of the judicial and legislative division of the Cherokee Nation East known as the Chickamauga District, whose boundaries included Hamilton County to the Tennessee River and Ooltewah (Wolftever) Creek, as well as Marion County to the river and large parts of Northwest Georgia and Northeast Alabama.  The judge for the Chickamauga District was none other than John Brown of Brown’s Tavern, Brown’s Ferry, and Brown’s Landing in the north of Lookout Valley; Brown also served briefly as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation West in 1839.

During the Civil War, several encounters took place in the vicinity, the closest being at Lee and Gordon’s Mill 11-13 September 1863 and another at the same place 16 September 1863, and a bit further away, the Battle of the Chickamauga, fought 18-20 September 1863.

Chickamauga today is the northern terminus of the Chattooga and Chickamauga Railway.

The post office of Crawfish Springs was established in 1877, the name changing to Chickamauga in 1890.  There was another post office in Walker County called Chickamauga from 1836 until 1837 which served the antebellum community of East Chickamauga, but that area went with Catoosa County when it separated in 1853.

Lytle

The schedule stop in this community was originally known as Battlefield Station, because the Chickamauga Battlefield Reservation was its reason for existence.  That remained the name well into the 20th century, when it changed to Lytle.  The depot stood across the tracks from the headquarters for the Reservation, and the National Park after that.

During the Civil War, the battlefield above was the site of the bloody Battle of the Chickamauga, as the Union called it, or the Battle of Mud Flats, as the Confederacy called it, fought 18-20 September 1863.  With the highest per capita body count, it was the bloodiest two-and-a-half days of the entire war.

The post office of Lytle operated from 1890 until 1910.

Mission Ridge

Three miles north lay this schedule stop east of Missionary Ridge, south of the eastern mouth of McFarland’s Gap.  The wye junction with the spur line to Fort Oglethorpe army post was just north of here.

The post office of Mission Ridge operated from 1878 to 1904.

Fort Oglethorpe

In 1914, COG constructed a spur line to the U.S. Army fort so-named, which also served the town that had begun to grow north of it.

The original community at the site was called Hargrave.  During the Spanish-American War, Camp Thomas, the primary training facility and departure point for troops going to Cuba, was here.  The army established Chickamauga Post for the 6th Cavalry in 1902, which became Fort Oglethorpe in 1904.  Fort Oglethorpe served as a boot camp during both world wars, and as a prison camp for German POWs of both wars.  In the Second World War, it was the primary training center for the Women’s Army Corps (WAC).  During the Depression, the State of Georgia imprisoned workers here during the Great Textile Strike of 1934.

The post office of Fort Oglethorpe was established in 1917.

Rossville

The depot at this schedule stop stood at the southern end of the island surrounded by the railway to the east, West State Street to the west, West Gordon Avenue to the north and West Lake Avenue to the south.  Initially intended primarily for passenger service, manufacturing interests took advantage of this to build their factories sited for easy access on either side of the station and provided the bulk of traffic in the first half of the 20th century.  Park Woolen Mill stood on the east and Richmond Hosiery Mill stood on the west.

The post office here was established by Thomas McFarland in 1835.  Despite the fact that the area was known as Popular Springs, he named it Rossville since he ran it out of his home, the former John Ross House.  Gradually the community adopted the name of the post office.  This post office continues to this day.

An earlier post office here was also named Rossville, established in the Cherokee Nation in 1817 with John Ross, the later Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation East whose house lay directly on the Federal Road, as postmaster.  It moved into what is now Tennessee in 1827, and again in 1834 to the mission on Chickamauga River (South Chickamauga Creek) across from Old Chickamauga Town of the Cherokee under the name Brainerd.  It closed in 1838 along with the mission of the same name at the Cherokee Removal to Indian Territory.

East End

CRC and its successors used the Radcliff depot of the Belt Line at this schedule stop but called it East End, which was the name of the community here. 

For more information, see the entries for Radcliff Station and East End under Radcliff Division in the section on Union Railway of Chattanooga.

Chattanooga

The CRC and its successors used the Central Depot then Terminal Station as its terminals in Chattanooga.

For more Chattanooga information, see the sections on the Western and Atlantic Railroad and the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad, Chattanooga Extension.

Chuck Hamilton

<natty4bumpo@gmail.com>


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