East Tennessee & Georgia Railroad Overview
The East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad, 1836-1860 by James W. Holland from
Historical Society's Publications, Jan. 1931.
In 1839 the construction of the Hiwassee Railroad (the predecessor
to the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad) was entirely suspended,
after 66 miles had been graded and a bridge built over the Hiwassee
River at Calhoun because of the high cost of the initial section of
road and the Panic of 1837. (See details in the
The Hiwassee Railroad company was re-chartered by the state February 4, 1848 under the name
of the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad and the completion was extended to 1860. Also, the railroad
was authorized and empowered with the consent and authority of the Legislature of the State of
Georgia to connect with the Western and Atlantic Railroad at Dalton.
After Duff Green, the initial construction contractor, failed, the
company entered into a contract for completion of the road with William
Grant and Company. This firm completed the railroad from Dalton to Calhoun.
Another contract followed this, now with J. G. Dent and Company, who
made rapid progress in the construction of the road. Before August 10,
1852, the railroad was plying daily between Dalton and Blair's Ferry.
The train left Dalton at 2:30 PM and arrived at Blair's Ferry by 6:35
By the end of 1852 the stockholders were beginning to realize profits
on their investment. The net profits for that year were $22,004.72.
The profits increased to $51,613.22 in 1853 and $79,301.74 in 1854.
In 1854, the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad Company acquired
the charter of the Chattanooga, Harrison, Georgetown and Charleston
Railroad Company and by virtue of that acquisition became empowered
to build a branch line from Cleveland to Chattanooga. A contract was
entered into with John D. Gray for the entire grading and masonry of
this thirty-mile railroad.
Throughout the winter and early spring of 1855 the work on the section
of road between Blair's Ferry and Knoxville was steadily pushed forward.
In June of 1855, the first train ever to enter Knoxville came puffing
into that city over the East Tennessee and Georgia rails. This completion
gave Knoxville a direct rail connection to Dalton, Georgia, there connecting
with the Western and Atlantic, and thorough its connections, with Charleston,
Augusta, Atlanta, Savannah and Montgomery. Within one month track laying
was to start at Knoxville on the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad.
The branch line form Cleveland to Chattanooga, having weathered the
Panic of 1857, was completed in the following year. This gave East Tennessee
and Georgia ingress to Chattanooga, then a point of reshipment of goods
coming up the Tennessee River. At Chattanooga, the East Tennessee and
Georgia connected with the Nashville and Chattanooga, which joined the
Memphis and Charleston Railroad at Stevenson, Alabama near Chattanooga
and the Western and Atlantic.
In 1858, also, the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad was completed.
This railroad connected at Knoxville with the East Tennessee and Georgia,
and at Bristol, Tennessee- Virginia, its northeastern terminus, with
the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, which was a link in connections
to Washington, D. C. New York City and other eastern cities. It also
connected the Cotton South and the Southwest with Virginia -- a feature
which made it of almost inestimable strategic importance in the great
civil conflict which was soon to come.
The East Tennessee was used as a direct route from Chattanooga to Richmond.
The line is currently part of the Southern System.