Clinchfield Railroad

Clinchfield engine 100

Although the Clinchfield Railroad did not have any tracks in Georgia, it is included here because it became part of the Family Lines System which did have a strong presence in the Peach State. The Clinchfield ran from Spartanburg, SC, by way of Marion, NC, and Johnson City, TN, to Elkhorn City, KY.

Built rather late in the railroad era, the Clinchfield began as the South & Western Railroad Company, chartered in 1905 and lead by George L. Carter, who saw great potential in a direct rail line connecting Appalachian coal fields to the lower southeastern states. Supposedly Carter used a purposely vague name for his railroad because he did not want his plans for terminal cities to be known to competitors such as Southern Railway.

The South & Western ran south from Johnson City to Spruce Pine, NC. Part of this route, from Johnson City to Chestoa, TN, had been operated by the Ohio River & Charleston Railroad, which took over from the Charleston, Cincinnati & Chicago Railroad after the latter failed in the Panic of 1893. The OR&C also floundered; Carter purchased its assets in 1902.

In March 1908, the railroad's name was changed to Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio Railway. The Clinchfield name referred to the Clinchfield coal region of eastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia.

In 1924 the CC&O was jointly leased to the Louisville & Nashville and the Atlantic Coast Line. L&N connected with the Clinchfield in southwestern Virginia, and the ACL's subsidiary Charleston & Western Carolina connected at Spartanburg. A similar joint lease gave L&N and ACL control of the Georgia Railroad, which connected with the C&WC at Augusta and which provided access to Atlanta.

In the early 1970s, the Clinchfield was marketed as a member of the Family Lines System that stretched across most of the Southeast. Other Family Lines railroads were the Seaboard Coast Line, the Louisville & Nashville, the Georgia Railroad, and the West Point Route, the last-mentioned consisting of the Atlanta & West Point and the Western Railway of Alabama.

In 1983 the Family Lines System name was dropped and the Clinchfield became a division of the Seaboard System Railroad.

Clinchfield Railroad passenger car

Vestibuled passenger coach of the CC&O. (From: The Car Builder's Dictionary, An Illustrated Vocabulary of Terms Which Designate American Railway Cars, Their Parts, Attachments, and Details of Construction ..., New York: Railway Age Gazette, 1909. Online at Internet Archive here.)

Clinchfield Railroad engine 154

Engine no. 154 was a 4-6-2 "Pacific" type built for the CC&O by Baldwin Locomotive Works. (From: Railway and Locomotive Engineering, December 1914, p. 438. Online at Internet Archive here.)

Clinchfield Railroad boxcar

Single sheathed box car built to a standard type under the supervision of the United States Railroad Administration and allocated to the CC&O. (From: Railway and Locomotive Engineering, April 1919, p. 110. Online at Internet Archive here.)

Clinchfield Railroad caboose

Clinchfield caboose. (From: The Car Builder's Dictionary, An Illustrated Vocabulary of Terms Which Designate American Railway Cars, Their Parts, Attachments, and Details of Construction ..., New York: Railway Age Gazette, 1909. Online at Internet Archive here.)

Clinchfield Railroad locomotive 550

Engine no. 550 was an articulated compound locomotive of the 2-6-6-2 type. (From: American Engineer and Railroad Journal, Sept. 1910, p. 356. Online at Internet Archive here.)

Clinchfield locomotive on turntable

Clinchfield locomotive on turntable. (From: Fred Drinkwater Yeaton, Locomotive Turntables, typescript, 1914. Online at HathiTrust Digital Library here).

Clinchfield Railroad car at Southeastern Railway Museum, Duluth, GA

Car no. 112 at Southeastern Railway Museum. Built for L&N as a baggage car, it was converted to a Clinchfield lounge/tavern car.

Family Lines

A few years before the Family Lines System appeared on the scene, Atlantic Coast Line merged with Seaboard Air Line Railroad to form Seaboard Coast Line Railroad (SCL).

Maps:

1910 map (192K)

Suggested Reading:

Mary Hattan Bogart. Conquering the Appalachians: Building the Western Maryland and Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio Railroads Through the Appalachian Mountains. Rochester, NY: Railroad Research Publications, 2000.

James A. Goforth. Building the Clinchfield; A Construction History of America's Most Unusual Railroad. Erwin, TN: GEM Publishers, 1989.

Eugene L. Huddleston. Appalachian Conquest: C&O, N&W, Virginian and Clinchfield Cross the Mountains. Lynchburg, VA: TLC Publishing, 2002.

Jerry Taylor and Ray Poteat. The CSX Clinchfield Route in the 21st Century. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008.

William Way, Jr. The Clinchfield Railroad; the Story of a Trade Route across the Blue Ridge Mountains. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1931. Complete book is online at HathiTrust Digital Library here.


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