Monday, August 31, 2015

NC&StL: Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis (The Dixie Line) Overview

1903 Map from Wikipedia
As I had expected from the name, the predecessor was a railroad, Nashville and Chattanooga (N&C), chartered by Nashville businessmen on December 11, 1845, to build to Chattanooga. It took advantage of steamboat access to Nashville to build east from Nashville as well as west from Chattanooga. Using a locomotive and cars delivered by steamboat, they started service on what was built in 1850. It took four more years to complete the difficult construction across mountainous terrain, including the 2,228 foot tunnel near Cowan, Tenneesse. During the Civil War, this route was hotly contested and each side used it at different times to carry supplies. After the war, N&C purchased railroads to extend its reach to the Mississippi River at Hickman, KY. In 1873 it reincorporated as the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway (NC&StL) to reflect its broader ambitions. But it never did reach St. Louis. In 1880, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad won a hostile takeover by acquiring 55% of the stock. But the NC&StL continued to operate independently until merging in 1957. In the 1880s the NC&StL continue to expand including a connection to Memphis. In 1890, the tracks reached Atlanta by leasing the state owned Western and Atlantic Railroad. (Wikipedia)

The RailGA page has maps for both 1889 and 1895. The branch to Paducah, which is the branch that I am interested in, didn't exist on the 1889 map and was labelled PT&A on the 1895 map. It is interesting to note the differences between the above 1903 map and the American Rails Map.

I guessed correctly that PT&A on the 1895 map stood for Paducah, Tennessee and Alabama. For a little railroad, it had a rather complicated corporate evolution. I'll simply note that the 118.61 mile route started from Paducah, KY in 1890, and reached Lexington, TN in November 1892. The NC&StL gained control of it and the Tennessee Midland Railroad (Memphis/Jackson/Lexington/Perryville) on December 14, 1895 as their
Paducah and Memphis (P&M) Division. (PreservationSociety, TheWatchers)

My 1928 Railroad Atlas shows the primary line of the NC&CtL was between Chattanooga, Nashville, Bruceton, Lexington, Jackson, and Memphis. (Note that Hollow Rock Junction was named Bruceton in 1920 after W. P. Bruce, then General Manager of the NC&StL.) The line east of Nasheville to Monterey was extended to meet Southern at Rockwood and was labeled T.C. But my 1973 atlas labels this eastern line as Southern east of Crossville and L&N west of Cookeville. It is ambiguous where between Cookeville and Crossville the ownership changed, but I would guess at Monterey. The little segment on the west from Union City to Hickman is gone. More significantly, the segment from Jackson to Memphis is gone. Probably because L&N chose to route Memphis traffic from Bruceton to McKenzie to use their Louisville/Clarksville/Memphis route. Since the Memphis/Jackson route has been abandoned for quite a while, it has already been well documented.

Looking at a height clearance map for CSX, they route their traffic through Nashville. Specifically, they abandoned the route that was owned by L&N in 1928 through Clarksville in favor of the NC&StL Nashville/Bruceton/McKenzie route. CSX has abandoned or sold all of the other NC&StL assets except for a small segment through Jackson. It is interesting that they use trackage rights to get to Jackson rather than the tracks that used to go from Bruceton through Lexington to Jackson.

I just learned about the Surface Transportation Board map, but I evidently have not figured out how to use it properly because a lot of track that I know is gone is not marked on the map.

Scott Russell >> Fallen Flags
Update: Scott's comment:

Pic bought at a train show bout 35 yrs. ago unknown photographer, date, and location , but a color NC&StL pic.

Chip Walker added: "Nashville Chattanooga & St.Louis was absorbed into the Louisville & Nashville in 1957."


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