Tri-state (TN-GA-AL) Rail Stops - Tennessee State Line Railroad

Tuesday, October 4, 2016 - by Chuck Hamilton



This line is better known as the Ooltewah Cut-Off, even in legal documents at the beginning of the 20th century.

According to A Legal History of the Development of the Railroad System of Southern Railway Company by Fairfax Harrison (1901), after the East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia Railroad (ETV&G) acquired the Macon and Brunswick Railroad, interested parties decided the railway needed a shorter route to connect with the Cincinnati Southern Railway that had recently begun operations into Chattanooga.  These parties incorporated the Ooltewah and Red Clay Railroad Company in Tennessee in December 1881; the same individuals incorporated the Tennessee and Cohutta Railroad Company in Georgia in January1882.  In May 1882, they won approval to consolidate as the Tennessee State Line Railroad Company.  This was the entity which built the Ooltewah Cut-off.

In the legal proceedings which accompanied the receivership of the ETV&G Railroad which resulted in its being reorganized as the ETV&G Railway, it was discovered the ETV&G did not own the Ooltewah Cut-off.  The Tennessee State Line Railroad Company had merely leased it to them.  The ownership did not get sorted out until Southern Railway (SOU) incorporated the entire holding of ETV&G in 1894.  After that merger, these stations became part of SOU’s Chattanooga, Cleveland, and Brunswick and Chattanooga, Cleveland, and Meridian Divisions.

The stations on the Tennessee State Line Railroad were as follows.

Ooltewah Junction

The northern terminus of the Cut-off, this schedule stop was briefly called Turner’s Station.  It stood at the end of Rail Road Avenue in the V of the railroad junction.  Passenger service moved here, and freight service to the original Ooltewah Depot at the east end of town.  The latter closed sometime in the 1910s, and the name of this station became simply Ooltewah.  Passenger service continued here at least through 1960; SOU closed the depot in 1976.

Thatcher’s Switch

The signal stop here primarily served shipping needs to limestone and lime mined nearby, loaded onto cars on a side-track.  The station stood at the eastern mouth of McDaniel Gap between the tracks and Apison Pike across from the end of Sanborn Drive.

When the Seventh Day Adventist Church decided to close its Southern Training School in Graysville, Tennessee, in 1916, it chose the valley here for its new Southern Junior College.  That institution grew into Southern Missionary College in 1944, which became Southern College of Seventh Day Adventists in 1982 then Southern Adventist University in 1996.

The post office of Thatchers operated here from 1895 to 1901.  Postal service was reestablished here in 1919 as Collegedale, as which the community incorporated in 1968.

Wooten’s Switch

A mile-and-a-half downtrack, this signal stop primarily serviced a side- track.


This schedule stop was originally called O’Brian, but was soon changed because of another station by that name in Tennessee.  In the early years of settlement in the 19th century, the area was known as Zion Hill.

The post office of Zion Hill operated in the vicinity from 1848 until 1866.  Postal service was reestablished as Apison in 1882.


This schedule stop stood at the Howardville Road crossing of the railway.

The post office of Howardsville operated from 1887 until 1931.


The southern terminus of this line, its junction with the Western and Atlantic Railroad, was originally intended to be State Line Station at Red Clay, Whitfield County, Georgia, but this station proved better suited. 

For further Cohutta information, see the section on the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad, 1851.

Chuck Hamilton


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