Nashville, Chattanooga &
St. Louis Railway

The Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad Company was chartered in Tennessee in 1845. The main line from Nashville to Chattanooga, running a distance of 151 miles, was opened in early 1854.

A key link in the line, the 2,228-ft. Cumberland Mountain Tunnel near Cowan, Tennessee, opened in 1852.

From Chattanooga, the line twisted its way westward through the mountains of the Cumberland Plateau, generally following the route of today’s I-24. At several places on the west side of Lookout Mountain, the rails crossed into Georgia, but seldom more than a few hundred feet. At Georgia’s northwest corner, the railroad turned southwest to Stevenson, Alabama, then northwest to Nashville.

The Nashville and Chattanooga acquired the Nashville and Northwestern (Nashville to Hickman, Kentucky) in 1870, and the two roads consolidated in 1872. The name was changed to Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway in 1873.

L&N acquired 55% of NC&St.L 's stock in 1880.

In 1890, NC&St.L leased the Western and Atlantic Railroad from the State of Georgia, giving it a line to Atlanta.

NC&St.L was merged into L&N in 1957.

The branch from Kingston to Rome was bought from the Rome Railroad in 1894. It was abandoned in 1943.

In 1944 the NC&St.L had 1,072 miles of track, most of which was in Tennessee.

Suggested Reading:

Dain L. Schult, Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis; A History of the Dixie Line (Lynchburg, VA: TLC Publishing, 2002).

Charles B. Castner, Jr., Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway; The Dixie Line (Newton, NJ: Carstens Publications, 1995).

Richard E. Prince, Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway; History and Steam Locomotives. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001, Reprint. Originally published by Richard E. Prince in Green River, Wyoming, 1967.)

James D.B. DeBow, Legal History of the Entire System of Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Ry. and Possessions. Nashville, TN: Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, c. 1900. Online at Internet Archive here.

Eight-wheel standard passenger locomotive built by Rogers for NC&StL. (From 1897 Rogers Locomotive Company catalog).

Ten-wheel passenger locomotive built by Baldwin for NC&StL. (From Railway and Locomotive Engineering, April 1906).

Maps, Timetables, and Other Information:

1863 map, Chattanooga area (215K)

1863 timetable (102K)

1870 timetable (182K) 

1889 map at Library of Congress

1895 timetable, Atlanta - Stevenson, AL (178K)

1895 map (275K)

1917 equipment list (52K)

1918 timetable (382K)

1944 map, northwest Georgia (36K)

1940s map, Cartersville to state line and to Rome (502K)



NC&St.L passenger car at Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

On the railroad overpass at St. Elmo Avenue on the south side of Chattanooga, near the Georgia/Tennessee line.

In this Civil War period photograph, the Nashville & Chattanooga railroad is shown running through a narrow corridor between Lookout Mountain and the Tennessee River, a little over two miles north of the GA-TN line. In 1905, Southern Railway wanted to come through here too, but was forced to construct a parallel tunnel through the mountain. Today the two railroads still pass through this area, along with Interstate 24.
From: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Larger image online here.

A later view of the same area. From: Chattanooga, the Mountain City, 1906. Online at Internet Archive here.

More information:

NC&StL Preservation Society Georgia's Railroad History & Heritage. © Steve Storey

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