Antique RR on G-1384

Hiwassee Railroad

Chattanooga Railroad Overview Hiwassee RR Hiwassee scrip Quick List Bibliography

Hiwassee Railroad Overview
The East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad, 1836-1860 by James W. Holland from
East Tenn. Historical Society's Publications, Jan. 1931.

In 1836 two enterprises were projected, either of which, if successful, would provide an outlet by railroad for goods from the East Tennessee Valley to the southeast. These were the huge, but ill-fated, Louisville, Cincinnati and Charleston project and the ultimately successful Hiwassee enterprise. The Hiwassee Railroad was projected to pass thorough the valley between the Great Smokey Mountains and the Cumberland Mountains over a route having a maximum grade of only thirty-seven feet to the mile. The Louisville, Cincinnati and Charleston, on the other hand, was planned to built directly through the mountains.

The Hiwassee Railroad Company was incorporated by the General Assembly of Tennessee on January 30, 1836. It was the first strictly East Tennessee railroad project to receive a charter, and the first in the state upon which actual construction work was done.

The Hiwassee Railroad, according to the terms of its charter, was to be constructed "from Knoxville, East Tennessee, through the Hiwassee District to a point on the Southern boundary of Tennessee, to be designated by the Commissioners hereinafter mentioned as the most practical route to intersect the contemplated Railroad from Augusta to Memphis. Commissioners named in the charter were: Seth J. W. Lucky, Robert Hynds, Ebenezer Alexander, Valentine Sevier, John Blair, William Park, W. B. A. Ramsey, Drury Paine Armstrong, and Salomon D. Jacobs.

It took about a year for the stock in the company to be subscribed and organized. Salomon D. Jacobs was elected the first president. The road was surveyed, located, and on June 4, 1837, was contracted to be graded from Hiwassee River to Blair's Ferry (the present Loudon) - about forty-one miles. The road, as planned was to pass through Knoxville, Philadelphia, Athens, and Calhoun and within three-fourths of a mile of Cleveland, a total of about 98 miles. The first work was begun October 18, 1837.

In 1839 the work was entirely suspended, after 66 miles had been graded and a bridge built over the Hiwassee River at Calhoun. The Hiwassee Railroad company issued used scrip during the early years but by May 18, 1844 the Chattanooga Gazette listed the Hiwassee Rail Road Scrip as "busted".

The Panic of 1837 and the inordinate expenditure of money were largely responsible for the "busted" condition of the Hiwassee Railroad Company at this time. Inefficient of methods, purchase of materials at a high price, poor management generally combined to dissipate a large part of the capital stock. Total expenditure in the grading of only 66 miles of road bed and building of one bridge was $936,329.23. The state of Tennessee filed suit against the Hiwassee Railroad. However, on October 3, 1842 the Tennessee State Supreme Court handed down a decree in favor of the company. On January 1, 1847, the Hiwassee company was reorganized and new officers were elected with T. Nixon Van Dyke as president.

No further work was completed until the 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. (See details in Overview East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad


Chattanooga Railroad Overview Hiwassee RR Hiwassee scrip Quick List Bibliography

E-mail Questions or Comments