Tri-state (TN-GA-AL) Rail Stops - Orme Branch Railroad, Chattanooga Traction Company

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - by Chuck Hamilton

ORME BRANCH RAILROAD, 1904

 

The Orme Branch Railroad (OB) was built by the Campbell Coke and Coal Company in 1904 as the Doran’s Cove Branch Railroad (DCB), primarily to send its coal and coke from its mines at Orme, opened in 1902, to market along a more efficient route than the mountain roads it had been using.  The Battle Creek Coal and Coke Company bought the operation in 1905, and the Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis Railway changed the name of the railway.

The OB switched off the Sequatchie Valley Branch Railroad (SVB) about a mile out from Bridgeport.  Like the SVB, the DCB,as the OB, began offering trips all the way into Chattanooga in the early 20th century.

The stations on the Orme Branch Railroad and its successor were as follows.

Orme

The town of Orme, which is still incorporated with about 150 citizens, came into being as company town for the Campbell Coal and Coke Company.  It lies in upper Doran’s Cove along the end of Orme Road.  The town center and its depot, which still stands, though the tracks were removed decades ago, are at the junction of Old Shop Hollow and Payne Cove.  The town is only easily accessible by going through Alabama; you also can get there from the top of the plateau by way of Orme Mountain Road if you are up for an adventure.

The post office of Needmore was established in 1902, changing later that year to Orme, as which it operated until 1965, when service moved to South Pittsburg.

Crownover

This station stood next to Crownover Spring east of the intersection of Orme Road, Cluck Cove Road (Jackson County Road 298), and Doran’s Cove Road (County Road 98).

Montague

A little over four miles later (according to the Official Railway Guide) came this station on the west side of the tracks across from the end of Needmore Road.  It mainly served the Needmore Coal Mines and its company town, also named Needmore, atop Montague Mountain.

Mount Carmel

This station stood at what’s now the intersection of Old Stevenson-Bridgeport Road (County Road 75).

Cumberland Junction

This station a half mile down stood near the intersection of Rocky Springs Road (County Road 74) and County Road 572, reached by a spur that switched off the main line to the south.

Johnson’s Crossing

This station was a little over a mile-and-a-half down the line.

Orme Junction

Another two miles down the line came the junction with the SVB, a mile out from that railway’s Bridgeport Depot.

Bridgeport

The Doran’s Cove/Orme Branch Railroad used SVB’s depot here.

For more Bridgeport information, see the sections on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad and on the Sequatchie Valley Branch Railroad.

Chattanooga

After the OB began offering trips all the way into Chattanooga, it used the NC&StL’s Union Depot as its terminal here.

For more information, see this entry under the section on the Nashvile and Chattanooga Railroad.

CHATTANOOGA TRACTION COMPANY, 1913

While this was strictly an electric railway operation, I’m including it because of its connection with the Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Texas Pacific Railway (CNO&TP) and because it reached areas not included in any of the steam or diesel railways.  In addition to being the last major electric railway lines built in Chattanooga, they were also the last railway lines built by C.E. James.  The main purpose for building the first line was to carry passengers to another venture of his, the Signal Mountain Inn.  “Traction” in the title of the company refers to the kind of engine using electric power for propulsion.

The Chattanooga Traction Company (CTC) built three lines north of the river, the Signal Mountain Division, which opened in 1913; the Dry Valley (or Red Bank) Division, which opened in 1916; and the Hixson Division, which was sold to Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Texas Pacific Railway in 1917 before it opened. 

In building this last line, CTC had intended to load freight at CNO&TP’s Tenbridge Station to carry on its lines to haul into Chattanooga but discovered it would come under scrutiny of the Interstate Commerce Commission, and sold the line to CNO&TP.

Unified Line

North Chattanooga

This station stood at the north end of the County Bridge (now Walnut Street Bridge) until John Ross Bridge opened, when it moved to a spot just west of that bridge.

Signal Mills

This station stood at the former Signal Knitting Mill on Manufacturers Roads now serving as the home for Food Works.

Magnolia

Roughly halfway between the stations in either side, this station may have served the needs of the Magnolia Petroleum Company, which had a presence here in the early 20th century.

Divine

This station stood where Power Corporation Drive runs under US 27.  The brick depot here is one of the very few (possibly the only) surviving such structures from the CTC days.  The railway’s car barns sat nearby to the east.

Tennessee Paper Mills

This station stood at the eponymous factory on Manufacturers Road.

Riverside

This station was at Riverside Road and Manufacturers Road, and a spur line from here ran south down to Moccasin Point, not quite reaching the end.

Valley Junction

This depot was at the intersection of Pineville Road and West Elmwood Drive and was the junction from which Signal Mountain and Dry Valley Divisions went their separate ways.

Signal Mountain Division

Passenger service on this line operated from September 1913 until 4 July 1934.

Pineville

This station stood at the Pineville Road crossing.

Williams Island

This station stood approximately at the Baylor School Road crossing, and there was a spur line from here onto the school’s campus.

Silver Creek

This station stood at the Old Signal Mountain Road crossing.

Crystal City

This station was about where the northern entrance to the Wal-Mart complex in Signal Mountain Boulevard is now.  From the station there was a road that circled Crystal Lake, a feature which long ceased to exist long before Wal-Mart came.

Jones Station

This station stood behind Food City on Signal Mountain Boulevard.

Glendale

This station stood at the intersection of Glendale Drive with Signal Mountain Boulevard.

Elks

This station stood just below the first sharp curve to the east on Signal Mountain Boulevard.

Sub Station

This station stood below Williams Point, roughly at the intersection of Sunset Drive with Signal Mountain Boulevard.

Shoal Creek

This station stood approximately at the intersection of Shoal Creek Road with Signal Mountain Boulevard, below Brady Point.

Wilder

This station stood near where North Palisades Drive crosses Shoal Creek.

Adams

This station stood at the intersection of Adams Street with Palisades Drive.

Oakwood

This station stood near the intersection of Ladder Trail with Palisades Drive.

Hollywood

This station stood near the intersection of Wood Street with Mississippi Avenue.

Fairview

This station stood at the intersection of Fairview Avenue with Mississippi Avenue.

Tennessee Avenue

This station stood at the intersection of Tennessee Avenue with Mississippi Avenue.

Exchange

This station stood approximately at the intersection of Mississippi Avenue, James Boulevard, and Brady Point Road.

Signal Mountain Inn

The Signal Mountain Inn, the terminus of the Signal Mountain Line, is now the Alexian Brothers of Tennessee Retirement Community.

Since there is no “Signal Mountain Station”, I will add the postal information here.  The post office of Signal Mountain was established in 1915 and continues to this day.

Dry Valley Division

Passenger service on this line operated from March 1917 until 31 March 1928.

Woodland

This station stood at the McRoy Road crossing.

Hillside

This station stood at the Signal Mountain Boulevard crossing.

Valdeau

This station stood at the Dayton Boulevard crossing.

The post office of Valdeau operated from 1897 until 1915, when service was moved to Chattanooga.

Midvale

This station stood at the Midvale Avenue East crossing.

White Oak

This station stood at the Memorial Drive (formerly Whiteoak Road) crossing.

Walters

This station was at the east end of Signal View Street, which once went to the tracks.

Flora

This station was at the Culver Street crossing.

C & D Junction

This station stood at the junction of the Red Bank Division with the Hixson Division, at what’s now the intersection of Harding Road and Dayton Boulevard.

Morrison

This station stood at what’s now the insection of Newberry Street East with Dayton Boulevard.

Ford

This station stood at what’s now the intersection of Euclid Avenue with Dayton Boulevard.

Red Bank

This station stood at what’s now the intersection of East Leawood Avenue with Dayton Boulevard.

The post office of Red Bank operated from 1875 until 1902, when it was moved to Valdeau.

Hixson Division

This line was completed in 1917 and sold to CNO&TP before CTC ever operated on it.

C&D Junction

This station was at the junction of the two railways.  See the entry under the Red Bank Division.

Lupton City

The passenger depot, if there was one, probably stood at the end of Mill Street, near where it meets the tracks.

The post office of Lupton City operated from 1925 until 2009.

Tenbridge

This station was the junction of this line with CNO&TP’s main line into Chattanooga.

For more information, see the entry in the section on the Cincinnati Southern Railway.

Chuck Hamilton

<natty4bumpo@gmail.com>


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