Jerry Summers: Sherwood - Crow Creek Valley

Monday, January 24, 2022 - by Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers

With a backdrop of the beautiful mountainous region of the Cumberland Plateau near Monteagle-Sewanee, a trip to the Franklin County Community of Sherwood is both a scenic and historic journey.

The Sewanee exit on I-24 onto Highway 41A passes the south end of the village of the University of the South’s campus.  If one continues downhill towards Cowan, a left turn onto Tennessee State Route 56 will lead you on to a precipitous decline on a well paved county road that is generally unoccupied as you proceed downward six miles to Sherwood, Tennessee in the Crow Creek Valley.  The state line is crossed at the small community of Anderson, Alabama and becomes Alabama State Route 117 eventually reaching Stevenson, Alabama.

At that spot are railroad tracks that once carried passenger trains and still carry commercial freight on the CSX Railway along the highway for much of the valley stretch of travel.  Getting on the Bridgeport, Alabama – South Pittsburgh highway will lead a traveler back to I-24.

Originally named Kitchen’s Station or Catchings Station, Sherwood was only a stagecoach stop that existed between Sewanee and Anderson in its earlier days.

Sherwood had been named for the lieutenant governor of Minnesota during the Civil War after he had purchased over 1,400 acres and obtained a charter from the Tennessee legislative for his land company.

In 1892 Byron Gager established the Gager Lime Manufacturing Company which operated a limestone quarry and lime kiln in the community until the production facilities closed in 1949.

During that time, the population in Sherwood rose to almost 2,000 residents but dropped drastically after the economy stalled and the limestone plant closed.

As one descends into the valley on the left remains the castle like ruins of the facilities that were included on the Tennessee Preservation Trust in 2002-2003 as one of the 10 structures on the Tennessee Endangered Properties List because of their distinct architectural style and also because of historical concern that a “continued lack of maintenance” might lead to their destruction and threatening their survival.

Sherwood is located a little over 13 miles southeast of Winchester, Tennessee and if you want to enjoy a scenic trip through an area reminiscent of the rural beauty depicted in the Burt Reynolds movie “Deliverance” a short one-day trip will be enjoyable.

The Sunday buffet at the Sewanee Inn and the backdoor drive down State Route 56 will be a good adventure.  Just remember to have plenty of gasoline, good tires, and a mechanically sound mode of transportation because there are limited facilities until Alabama.

Rumors exist that University of the South (Sewanee) football coaches Shirley Majors, Horace Moore and Clarence Carter used to participate in their own version of a road race whenever they had to go travel to Chattanooga to watch the University of Chattanooga (UC) or one of the local high school games to scout for players who might be interested in playing for Sewanee, as a non-athletic scholarship participant.

Starting at the village at Sewanee one vehicle would travel on 41A and the old Dixie Highway (U.S.41) and the other car would head down State Route 56 to a pre-determined location outside of Chattanooga in a race to determine who would be responsible for dinner in the Scenic City.

With the creation of Interstate 24 many such races went out of existence but to a privileged few the memories remain as part of the history of the area!

* * *

Jerry Summers

(If you have additional information about one of Mr. Summers' articles or have suggestions or ideas about a future Chattanooga area historical piece, please contact Mr. Summers at jsummers@summersfirm.com)

           

           


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