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

Thursday, September 29, 2016 - by Chuck Hamilton



Nicknamed “The Dixie Line” in its subsequent incarnation, the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad (N&C) completed its line into Chattanooga in 1854.

During the Civil War, the U.S. Military Rail Roads operated the line of the N&C under the name Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, though under complete control of the Union army.

After purchasing two more railways, the N&C reincorporated as the Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis Railway (NC&StL) in 1873.  In 1880, the Louisville and Nashville (L&N) Railroad took control in a hostile takeover, but continued to operate it as a separate entity.  The NC&StL leased the Western and Atlantic (W&A) line from the State of Georgia in 1890.  It merged with its parent company in 1957, and the latter ultimately became part of CSX Transportation in 1985.

The stations on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad its successors from Stevenson, Alabama, to Chattanooga were as follows.


The N&C completed its line to this city, town then, in Jackson County, Alabama, in 1852.  The surviving depot, the fourth, at this schedule stop and coupon station was built in a joint-venture with the Memphis and Charleston Railroad (M&C) in 1872 and includes an eight-room hotel.  The L&N, parent company of the NC&StL, closed it in 1976.  It is now the Stevenson Railway Depot and Hotel in the center of downtown.

During the Civil War, Stevenson was occupied in April 1862 without a fight by Union forces who later abandoned it to Confederate reoccupation.  The Army of Tennessee withdrew after the Tullahoma Campaign, and Union forces reoccupied it, this time permanently.  There were engagements here on 18 July 1862 and 7 September 1863.  The Union built Fort Harker in 1862 and enlarged it in 1864; it was restored and opened as a city park in 1985.  Another redoubt named Fort Mitchell guarded town from the north, and seven blockhouses surrounded the town.

The post office of Stevenson was established in 1832.

Willow Tree

Not even surviving as a place-name, this antebellum station, probably a signal stop, stood three miles down the line from Stevenson and was probably destroyed during the war.


This schedule stop and the village that grew around it stood five miles down the line from Stevenson and two from Willow Tree, at the former site in modern times of the North Alabama Hospital in Jackson Co. on Alabama Highway 227.

The post office of Bolivar operated from 1835 until 1904.


This schedule stop and coupon station was originally called Jonesville, after the town.  Both names changed to the present in 1854.  For a time, the town hosted two Bridgeport depots, one serving the two initial railroads and their successors and the other the Sequatchie Valley Branch Railroad (SVB).  In 1917, the L&N, parent of the NC&StL which controlled the SVB, built a joint depot consolidating passenger and freight service areas and company offices for both companies.  The freight area burned, but the passenger section remains, has been restored, and is now a museum.

During the Civil War, Union forces took the town after the Siege of Bridgeport 23-29 April 1862.  There was another engagement 27 August that same year.  Union forces abandoned the town and the Confederates reoccupied it until the Army of Tennessee withdrew to Chattanooga after the Tullahoma Campaign.  The Union held it for the rest of the war. 

During the Federal Military Occupation, three redoubts were built here, each with a blockhouse inside.  A stand-alone blockhouse guarded the depot, and another the railway bridges over the river.  There was another blockhouse on Long Island and one more on the hill on the left bank overlooking the two railway bridges. 

Starting in late spring 1864, Bridgeport’s riverport hosted the 11th District of the Mississippi Squadron, patrolling from Bridgeport to Muscle Shoals.  The unit consisted of five tin-clads built by Union engineers in Chattanooga.

The post office was established as Jonesville in 1852, changing to Bridgeport in 1854.

Long Island

Two miles down from Bridgeport, still in Jackson County, stood this schedule stop, originally called Carpenter.  The community here, which went by Long Island well before the war, is a mile-and-a-half away from the namesake island itself and still goes by Long Island.

The post office of Long Island operated from 1852 until 1966.

Taylor’s Store

Situated at the state line was this signal stop halfway between Long Island station and Moore’s Crossing, just inside Marion County, Tennessee.  During the Civil War it served as a muster and departure point for several units from both armies.  It survived the war for at least a decade.


This signal stop once stood in Moore’s Crossing in Marion County, Tennessee, at the crossing by Shellmound Road which gave its name to the community.  All that remains of the tiny community once there is the McDaniel-Moore Cemetery at the site of the former McDaniel Chapel.  It was about halfway between Carpenter depot and Shellmound depot.


Named for the huge mound of shell midden dating from the Woodland Era (100 BCE-800 CE), this depot at this schedule stop stood at the eastern side of the mouth of Cole City Hollow, beyond where Macedonia Road meets the railway; the exact site is now under water.  It was originally named Nickajack for the community here, which in turn took its name from the Cherokee town dating back to 1782 during the Cherokee-American Wars of 1776-1795.  When the railroad renamed its depot Shellmound, the community became known by that name.

During the Civil War, Nickajack Cave was the primary source of saltpeter for the Confederacy until it fell behind Union lines.

The post office of Nickajack was established here in 1854.  In 1879, it changed to Shellmound, and closed in 1955.

Cole City

The Nickajack Railroad spurred off south from Shellmound to service the Gordon Mines and others of the Dade Coal Company at Cole City in Dade County, Georgia.  The mines here used convict slave labor, leasing prisoners from the state.

The post office of Cole City operated from 1874 until 1911.

Ladd’s Switch

This signal stop was on the western side of the mouth of Running Water Valley where Ladds Switch Road crosses the railway.  Its main purpose was to service the switch, or side-track, here. 

The post office of Ladds operated from 1925 to 1937.


This signal stop was at the junction of the main line with the spur that serviced the Vulcan Mines at the foot of the spur.


This schedule stop stood in the heart of the community of formerly known Running Water, named for the former Cherokee established in 1782 during the Cherokee-American Wars.  The famous war leader Dragging Canoe made his home and headquarters here, and is buried in one of its hollows.  The depot formerly stood near the current post office.

There were no engagements here during the Civil War, but the (Confederate) Army of Tennessee burned the railroad trestle on their withdrawal in 1863.  Engineers from the (Union) Army of the Cumberland replaced it with a stupendous two-level structure guarded by four of the ten blockhouses between Bridgeport and Chattanooga throughout the Federal Military Occupation.

The post office of Running Water as established in 1847, changing to Whiteside in 1865.


This signal stop was at the junction of the main line with the spur that serviced the Aetna Mines at the foot of the spur.

Summit Switch

This signal stop was just inside Tennessee and south of the railway.  The community there straddled the stateline; Summit Cemetery is just inside Dade County, Georgia.


This schedule stop was the only station of the N&C and its successors in Dade County, Georgia.  Originally, it was named Lookout Station; the name changed after the war.

The post office of Lookout Station operated here from 1856 until 1867.  In 1881, the post office was reestablished as Lookout, the name changing to Hooker in 1890.  It closed in 1896.

Cross Hollow Switch

This signal stop east of the later Hooker served the side-track here.

Wauhatchie Junction

This schedule stop in Lookout Valley in Hamilton County, Tennessee, stood at the junction of the N&C and the M&C with the Wills Valley Railroad and of their successors.  No longer providing passenger service, a large freight depot services the needs of the large railyards here.  Even before the Civil War it already had quite a number of side-tracks, which expanded into the Wauhatchie Yards postbellum.

The Battle of Wauhatchie took place here 28-29 October 1863.  During the Federal Military Occupation, a blockhouse guarded the depot and railway junction.

The (second) post office of Wauhatchie operated here from 1866 until 1918.


From late 1860s through the early decades of the 20th century, this schedule stop stood next to the railway just east of where Kelly’s Ferry Road-Cummings Highway meets Old Wauhatchie Pike, two miles down from Wauhatchie Junction.  This is in the area of Tiftonia proper; old-time residents will tell you there are three separate areas of Lookout Valley: Brown’s Ferry, Tiftonia, and Wauhatchie.

The Battle of Brown’s Ferry took place a mile-and-a-half north of here on 27 October 1863, and there had been a previous engagement 7 September 1863.  During the Federal Military Occupation, a redoubt probably called Fort Hooker anchored the line of works that protected Brown’s Ferry and Brown’s Landing from a southern approach.

The post office of Lookout Valley operated in the vicinity from 1834 until 1848.  There is a satellite station under that same name operating under the Chattanooga Post Office today.


Named for the Civil War famous site on Lookout Mountain above it, this schedule stop stood three miles from Lookout station, at the junction of the old Broad Gauge (Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain Railway) with the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad and at the south end of the Cravens Yards.

A few maps from the Civil War era show a station in the same vicinity designated “West Chattanooga”.  That could have been its antebellum name or a Union army designation.

Union Junction

The junction of this railroad with the Western and Atlantic Railroad into Union Depot.


The N&C and its successors used Union Depot it until it closed in 1971. 

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

Chuck Hamilton




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