A Southern Regional Railroad of the 1930's - 1940's
Tennessee Central Railway


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Tennessee Central Logo
The Tennessee Central Railroad (TC) was an important late nineteenth- and twentieth-century competitor to the dominant Louisville and Nashville (L&N) and Southern Railway systems in Tennessee. It was formed in the early 1890's to haul coal, lumber and iron from eastern Tennessee locations west to the mid states, and to the east. Its eastern division ran, along the Cumberland Plateau, from Nashville east to Harriman, 163.5 miles, where it connected with the Southern Railway to continue to Knoxville and other eastern connections. Its western branch ran from Nashville northwest to Clarksville, Tennessee and Hopkinsville, Kentucky, 83.5 miles. The TC had several other
Tennessee Central
Tennessee Central
Employee Timetable
September 4, 1955
First TT after end of
passenger service
smaller branches. During its formative years the TC ran into serious financial and growth problems due to actions of its competitors, the L&N and the Southern (CNO&TP). The L&N refused to allow the TC to use their ornate new passenger station in Nashville, and the TC was thwarted in its efforts to get west to Memphis. The TC was modestly successful in spite of the difficulties.
In the 30's and 40's the TC ran two passenger trains between Nashville and Harriman, and through to Knoxville on the Southern, a total of 216 miles. In the early 30's a single train on the Crawford branch connected the towns of Wilder and Davidson, 21 miles each, to the main line. By 1940 the Nashville-Knoxville passenger run was down to one train, and all the branches were freight only. The Nashville-Knoxville service lasted until July 1955 when the entire TC was freight only. In 1968 the TC was liquidated and parts of it were bought by the IC, L&N and Southern. The Tennessee Central endured for over 80 years in the face of very tough odds, and played a considerable part in the economic development of its service region. It is still remembered fondly by many people in the small towns it served as "The Route of Personal Service."

Short History of the Tennessee Central Railway
1884 - The Nashville and Knoxville Railroad founded by Alexander S. Crawford, desiring to connect east Tennessee coal and iron resources to the CNO&TP (Southern) in Nashville.
post 1884 - The N&K was only completed between Lebanon, where it connected to a NC&SL branch from Nashville, and Standing Stone (now Monterey).
post 1884 - Col. Jere Baxter organized and constructed four lines that, together with the N&K, acquired from the Crawford family, were to become the Tennessee Central. The line was to link, first, Nashville to Knoxville crossing the Cumberland Plateau and tapping rich resources of coal, iron and timber.
1893-4 - Initial financial setbacks during the Depression of 1893-94.
1897 - Line enters receivership.
1898 - First (eastern) section completed.
post 1898 - Baxter then turned his attention to a western extension which would connect Nashville to Memphis. L&N & Southern attempt to block TC growth.
1902 - The lines were reorganized and renamed the Tennessee Central Railroad. Several versions of this name were used over a period of some thirty years.
1904 - Baxter passed away.
1905 - Eastern section of TC leased to Southern and incomplete western branch to IC who desired a connection to Clarksville, Tennessee.
post 1905 - L&N draws business away from TC by building and expanding warehouse facilities in Nashville.
1908 - Due to lack of traffic, Southern and IC sever connections with TC.
1912 - TC enters receivership.
1913 - TC reorganized.
1922 - The final name, Tennessee Central Railway, was adopted as TC comes out of bankruptcy.
1922-1945 - TC operates profitably except for 1932-33.
1931 - Two passenger trains a day Nashville to Knoxville, via Southern from Harriman. Also a train on Crawford branch. All other service is freight only.
1939 - First diesel-electric switcher on TC.
1941-45 - War years are profitable.
1940- - No more Crawford branch passenger service.
1946 - First year of losses since 1933.
1949-56 - TVA Kingston coal-fired power plant, newly financed hopper cars, new diesels and TC coal mines provide brief profitability.
1850 - Nashville-Knoxville service one train a day.
1952 -Last steam engine operated on TC as 4 more diesels arrive.
1955 - Passenger service discontinued in July.
1957 - TVA gives coal contracts to non-TC mines and downward spiral begins.
1968 - Third and final receivership. Western branch to Hopkinsville sold to IC. The Southern purchased about 36 miles from Harriman west to west of Crossville. The L&N bought the line from Crossville to Nashville. TC ceases to exist as an entity.
1986 - The Nashville and Eastern Railway obtaines the old TC line from Nashville east to Monterey, TN, 130 miles (total trackage 137) N&E was formed to reestablish freight service from Nashville to Lebanon and points east. The railroad currently extends to Monterey where it serves a large sand mining operation. The railroad provides freight shipping services to more than 30 companies.
cir 1990 - The NE starts running occasional passenger excursion trains from Nashville to Cookeville, Watertown or Monterey in cooperation with the Tennessee Central Railway Museum in Nashville.
2006 - The NE is the home road of the new commuter rail service between Nashville and Lebanon. The service is operated by the Regional Transportation Authority, Nashville's public transportation agency.

Tennessee Central Map
Tennessee Central - 1931


Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- Various editions
http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/imagegallery.(php)
Ghost Train From Nashville By Jack Neely, MetroPulse

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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, May 1, 2009, revised Oct. 31, 2011