Tri-state (TN-GA-AL) Rail Stops - Cincinnati Southern Railway

Monday, October 3, 2016 - by Chuck Hamilton



The Cincinnati Southern Railway is unique in being a wholly-owned asset of the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, the only such long-distance railroad in the U.S.A.  The complete line to Chattanooga opened in 1880, reaching its intended southern terminus.  The following year, the City of Cincinnati leased the line to the Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Texas Pacific Railway Company (CNO&TP), owned by the Baron d’Erlanger, the same who owned the Alabama Great Southern Railway (AGS).  In 1883, the CNO&TP was one of the five railroads Baron d’Erlanger organized into the Queen and Crescent Route.  CNO&TP was acquired by Southern Railway (SOU) in 1895, under which it ran as the Cincinnati and Chattanooga Division, though it continued as a separate entity, as it does now under Norfolk-Southern Railway (NS).  The City of Cincinnati still owns the entire physical line from there to Chattanooga.

In 1917, CNO&TP bought the spur line constructed by Chattanooga Traction Company (CTC) between the latter’s station at C&D Junction to its own Tenbridge depot.  The existence of this line proved fortuitous for the railroad two years later in August 1919, when inspectors ruled its bridge over the Tennessee River was unsafe and needed to be replaced.  Until January the following year, CNO&TP trains coming into Chattanooga switched to the spur line to the CTC’s tracks at C&D Junction, which it followed to its small temporary depot near the end of the John Ross Bridge.  From there, passengers rode buses into town.

The train engine that inspired the song “Chattanooga Choo Choo” worked Cincinnati Southern Railway.  It was an old wood-burner of the 2-6-0 Mogul type, of which an example can be seen at the Choo Choo Hilton downtown.

The stations on the Cincinnati Southern Railway and its successors from Dayton, Tennessee, to Chattanooga were as follows.

Dayton (also North Dayton)

In 1877, the community of Smith’s Crossroads renamed itself Dayton after the eponymous city in the State of Ohio in honor of the impending arrival of the Cincinnati Southern Railway.  The town was incorporated in 1885 and the county moved its seat here from Washington near the river in 1890.  This schedule stop was also a coupon station.

The main depot, briefly named North Dayton in the early 20th century, was located west of the tracks and north of 2nd Avenue, where City Quick Wash is now.

During the Civil War, the later Dayton was the site of the Crossroads Treaty between Unionist sympathizer Col. William Clift of Hamilton County’s 7th Tennessee Militia and Confederate Col. George Gillespie of the 43rd Tennessee Volunteers.  In 1862, the only all-female cavalry unit of the war organized here as the Rhea County Spartans.  Never an official unit, they performed USO-type services until the Federal Military Occupation began, then they provided spy services and did minor sabotage.

The post office was established here as Smith’s Crossroads in 1822.  The name changed to Dayton in 1878.

South Dayton

In the early 20th century, rail traffic here necessitated two depots, the first redubbed North Dayton and the auxiliary depot South Dayton, also a schedule stop.  The latter ceased operation, or at least downgraded to a signal stop, before the 1920s, leaving the original.


In this town nearly on the county line, the Seventh Day Adventist Church founded its first college in the South, Graysville Academy.  The town and post office were founded in 1875, in anticipation of the railroad.  The school became Southern Industrial School to reflect its shift toward more vocational training in 1897, the name changing again in 1901, under which it operated until closing its doors to move south in 1916.

The area was initially settled by members of the regional ethnic group the Melungeons, whose descendants in the early 20th century contracted Chattanooga Judge Lewis Shepherd to represent them in a civil rights case.  As an ethnic group, the Melungeons originated in the tri-state area of Upper East Tennessee, Southwestern Virginia, and southeastern Kentucky, mainly in the first.

The railway depot at this schedule stop was west of the tracks north the Burnett Street-Dayton Avenue crossing.  Mammy Swearingham was its first agent, a rarity in a field almost entirely dominated at the time by men.

The post office of Graysville, Tennessee, was established in 1878.


This schedule stop was west of the tracks between Swafford Road and Nelson Cemetery Road in the extreme northern section of Hamilton County, a mile-and-a-half down from Graysville.

The post office of Coulterville operated from 1879 until 1916, when it moved to Sale Creek.

Home Stores

This signal stop  lay just over a mile down from Coulterville.

Sale Creek

A mile down the line, the depot  at this schedule stop, originally named Rock Creek until the residents complained enough, stood at the Legget Road crossing opposite the end of Railroad Street.  The stream, then the community, acquired this name from having been the site at which the goods seized from the eleven Cherokee towns in the area destroyed in 1779 by the Shelby expedition were divided and auctioned.

During the Civil War, after Tennessee voted to secede and join the Confederacy in June 1861, Col. William Clift, who owned a large plantation in Soddy, raised Hamilton County’s regiment, the 7th Tennessee Militia, for the Union.  The Cumberland Presbyterian campground here served as their base, though their main activity was limited to drilling and training.  After the East Tennessee bridge burnings in early November, the 6th Alabama Volunteers were sent to offer them the choice between fighting and disbandment.  Clift and the militia chose the latter, most going to Kentucky to enlist in the Union army, Clift and several others taking to the mountains as jayhawkers (the period term for Unionist guerrillas) before following the path of their comrades.

The post office of Sale Creek was established in 1841.


Three miles down, the depot for this schedule stop stood at Retro-Hughes Road crossing of the railway.  The community was and is known as Bakewell.

The post office was established in 1880 as Retro, after the station.  It became Bakewell in 1914, and was moved to Sale Creek in 1964.


The name of the depot at this schedule stop and coupon station was Soddy Coal Mines until confusion arose with the station in northern Rhea County named Roddy.  Thus it became Rathburn.  The community, of course, has been Soddy, or some version thereof, since the 1780s.  The depot stood west of the tracks at the end of the aptly named Depot Street.  There was also a spur line from here to the Tennessee River at Soddy Landing.

The name Soddy derives from the name of the Cherokee settlement here prior to the Removal and first established during the Cherokee-American Wars.  The name is not Cherokee, but Muskogean.  The Cherokee form is “Itsati”, the same from which we get “Chota”, the famous town formerly on the Little Tennessee River.  According to Charles Hicks, then Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, who pronouced it “Sawtee”, this was the name of the Muskogean (or Creek) town which occupied Dallas and Friar’s Island during the Mississippian era.

William Clift, the Unionist firebrand, operated the post office of Soddy from 1829 until 1845.  The post office was reestablished in 1850, and continues today under the name Soddy-Daisy, to which it was changed when the two communities merged and incorporated in 1972.


This small station was briefly a schedule stop the late 1890s, three miles from Soddy, established primarily as a postal depot after Col. Thomas Parks, operator of the Daisy Coal Mines, donated land and named it for his mines, in order to have the post office closer to his business office.  By the early 20th century, it had downgraded to a signal stop, if it still existed.

Originally, the name of the community of Daisy was Poe’s Crossroads, and it was the first seat of the county court until it was moved to Dallas.  In 1850, the residents changed the name to Chickamauga, which, yes, was also the name of the better known community in southern Hamilton County.  The name changed to Melville in 1878, then to Daisy in 1883, and finally to Soddy-Daisy when it incorporated with its neighbor to the north under that name.

The post office of Poe’s Crossroads operated here from 1846 until 1847.  For information about the current post office and its history, see the station below.


Just one mile down lay the depot of the schedule stop called Melville, always the main depot of the community even during the existence of its junior discussed above.  The depot stood at west of the tracks at the crossing of Depot Road, now known as Hixson Street-Hyatte Road.  Though the names of the post office and community changed in 1883, this depot retained its original name until sometime between 1921, when it still appears in the Official Railroad Guide under this name, and 1945, when it appears in the publication as Daisy.  Though passenger service ran here, this station’s main function was as a freight depot for Daisy Coal Mines.

Restoration of civilian post service lagged somewhat in the county, and in 1866 the same-named village in the south of the county on the Western and Atlantic Railroad still did not have postal service, so this community seized the opportunity to have a post office of its own under the name Chickamauga.  That’s why when service at the other Chickamauga was restored, it was under the name Chickamauga Station.  Mel Adams donated land for a bigger post office under the condition it be named for him, so the name changed to Melville in 1878.  Col. Parks, owner of the community’s main source of employment (the mines) did the same in 1883 to have the name changed to Daisy.  The post-office merged with its neighbor along with the community in 1972 as Soddy-Daisy.


This signal stop a mile-and-a-half down just north of the Thrasher Pike crossing of the tracks was built in the early years of the 20th century primarily to serve the passenger needs of the resort at the community of this name atop Walden’s Ridge.

A post office operated here from 1909 until 1923, when it moved to Soddy, which makes one wonder, why not to Daisy?

Cave Springs

Two miles south stood a remote schedule stop at the pumping station next to the railway below Cave Springs on top of the eponymous ridge adjacent to the tracks.  There was no access road, so probably little passenger traffic; its main reason for existence was probably water replenishment in the days of steam engines.


The depot at this schedule stop one mile from Cave Springs station at the crossing of Old Hixson Pike was originally called Lookout, but was changed to avoid confusion with the same-named station on the Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis Railway.  The community, known at the coming of the railroad as Lakeside, soon took on the name of the depot.

The post office of Lakside was established in 1880.  Its postmaster, Ephraim F. Hixson, got the name of the post office changed to Hixson in 1892, as which it still operates.  From 1833 to 1839, his father, Ephraim Hixson, Jr., ran a post office in the vicinity called North Chickamauga.


Two-and-a-half miles further stood this signal stop originally named Red Bank.  The name was changed to avoid confusion with the community to the north.  It stood just above the wye formed by the junction with the Chattanooga Traction Railway (CTC) spur line from C & D Junction on its Red Bank (the original Red Bank) Line to this point.  The latter was an an electric railway which had intended to use the line mainly for hauling freight to the CNO&TP for shipping, but changed their plans soon after it was finished.  CTC sold the spur line to CNO&TP in 1917; the major (and possibly only) stop between the two stations was at Lupton City.

See also the Hixson Division in the section on the Chattanooga Traction Company.

King’s Point

The railway established a signal stop here and built a depot at the end of North Wilder Road that it operated until at least the beginning of the 20th century.  In the middle 20th century, the railway established another station near here called Hulsey.

The planned community of King’s Point still exists in carefully laid out in squares, now surrounded on three sides by railroads.

The post office of King’s Point operated from 1883 until 1898. 

An earlier post office in the vicinity operated from 1843 until 1844, under the name Toqua, which was the name of the Cherokee town  here first established in late 1776.  It was destroyed and rebuilt in 1779, abandoned in 1782, and restablished after the Cherokee-American Wars.  A post office was again established in this vicnity in 1878 called Sivley, changing its name to Toqua in 1880 until moving to Harrison near the end of 1884.


The railway first called its stop at the depot it shared with the Western and Atlantic Railroad (W&A) here Boyce Junction, then switched to Amnicola with the latter, then to just Boyce with the latter.  For the first decade or so of its service to Chattanooga, the CNO&TP used the tracks of the W&A from Boyce into Chattanooga to get downtown.

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

Citico Junction

Now the junction for at least three different lines.

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


The terminus of the Cincinnati Southern Railway was Union Depot until 1888, when it began using Central Depot.  When Terminal Station opened n 1909, it switched service there.

For further information, see the sections on the Western and Atlantic Railroad and the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad, Chattanooga Extension, 1858.

Chuck Hamilton


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