Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway

Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway
Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway
NC&StL steam locomotive 576, now displayed in Centennial Park in Nashville
Reporting mark NC
Locale Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia
Dates of operation 1851–1957
Predecessor Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad
Successor Louisville and Nashville Railroad
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)
Length 1900: 1,189 miles (1,914 km)
Headquarters Nashville, Tennessee

The Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway (reporting mark NC) was a railway company operating in the southern United States in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. It began as the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, chartered in Nashville in December 11, 1845, and was the first railway to operate in the state of Tennessee.[1] From this link between two Tennessee cities, it has gradually grew until it formed one of the important railway systems of the South by the turn of the twentieth century.[2](iii, Dedication)



The Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis Railroad was founded by Mr. Vernon King Stevenson. He was president of the railroad for 25 years, as well as being president of the Southern Pacific Railroad, and controlling the L & N Railroad. The first locomotive in Nashville arrived in December 1850 on the steamboat Beauty along with thirteen freight cars and one passenger car. The train made its first trip the following spring, 11 miles (18 km) to Antioch, Tennessee. It took nine years to complete the 150 miles (240 km) of line between Nashville and Chattanooga,[1] made difficult by the steep elevations of the Highland Rim and Cumberland Plateau between them. A 2,228 feet (679 m) tunnel near Cowan, Tennessee was considered an engineering marvel of the time.[1] Due to terrain difficulties, the rail line crossed into Alabama and Georgia for short distances. Towns sprang up during construction, including Tullahoma and Estill Springs.

During the Civil War, the rail line was strategic to both the Union and Confederate armies. The Tennessee campaigns of 1862 and 1863 saw Union troops force the Confederates from Nashville to Chattanooga along the line of the railroad. The tracks and bridges were repeatedly damaged and repaired, and at different times carried supplies for both armies.

After the war, the company purchased the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad and the Hickman and Obion Railroad to Hickman, Kentucky to reach the Mississippi River. In 1873, it was reincorporated as the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway (NC&StL) (though the company's tracks never actually reached St. Louis, Missouri). In early 1877, the NC&StL bought the bankrupt Tennessee and Pacific Railroad from the state government and operated it as a connection to Lebanon, Tennessee.

The Louisville and Nashville Railroad, an aggressive competitor of the NC&StL, gained a controlling interest in 1880 through a hostile stock takeover that caused massive rancor between the cities of Nashville and Louisville.[3] However, the railroads operated separately before finally merging in 1957. Despite the 1880 takeover, the NC&StL continued to grow through the acquisition of branch lines in Kentucky and Alabama, and expanded from Nashville to Memphis. In 1890 the tracks reached Atlanta, Georgia, by leasing the state-owned Western and Atlantic Railroad.[2](List of Branches in Order of Their Acquisition)

The L&N, itself controlled by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad in a takeover similar to that of the NC&StL, was merged in to the Seaboard System Railroad, and finally into the CSX freight rail conglomerate. It continues to use the original NC&StL tracks between Nashville, Chattanooga and Atlanta.

Surviving equipment

Two 4-4-0 locomotives, The General, and The Texas from the NC&StL's predecessor road, the Western and Atlantic, are on display in museums in the Atlanta suburbs of Kennesaw and Grant Park.

In 1953, the NC&StL donated its last remaining steam engine, No. 576, to the city of Nashville. This locomotive, a J3-57 class 4-8-4, originally known as a Yellow Jacket, was manufactured by the American Locomotive Company (“ALCO”) in 1942. It has been on display in Centennial Park since then. In keeping with its Southern heritage, the NC&StL referred to 4-8-4 locomotives as Dixies, while most other railroads called them Northerns.

In 2004, a former NC&StL diesel locomotive 710, an EMD GP7 was restored to its original paint scheme by the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.

In 2007 former NC&StL GE 44 ton Diesel (1950) Huntsville terminal switcher number 100 was moved from Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee to Cowan, Tennessee at the Cowan Railroad Museum. Though subsequently an L&N engine (number 3100), she was cosmetically restored to original scheme and number. In the process, the locomotive was found to be runable. Important as the first transitorized remote control locomotive in the US (converted in 1962)

See also



  1. ^ a b c "The First Railroad Across Tennessee". Tennessee History for Kids. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b DeBow, James Dunwoody Brownson (1900). Legal history of the Entire System of Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Ry. and Possessions. Nashville, Tennessee: Press of Marshall & Bruce Co. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  3. ^ "A Vast Railroad Scheme", The New York Times, January 19, 1880, 


  • Anon. (June 1996) [January 1953]. Official Railway Equipment Register. The Railway Equipment and Publication Company, reprinted by National Model Railroad Association. ISBN 0-9647050-1-X. 
  • Drury, George H. (1985). The Historical Guide to North American Railroads. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing Company. pp. 200–201. ISBN 0-89024-072-8. 
  • Prince, Richard E., Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway: History and Steam Locomotives. Indiana University Press, 2001. ISBN 0253339278.

External links

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