Oh! the Wills Valley, Oh!
The Wills Valley, Oh!
I'm going to work for Stanton
On the Wills Valley, Oh!

Wills Valley Railroad Company

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Wills Valley History by Carl Anderson

Originally chartered by the State of Alabama in 1852, this railroad was to run from some point on the Alabama Tennessee River Railroad (near Gadsden, Ala.), through Georgia to connect with the Georgia Tennessee Railroad near Lookout Mountain. Eventually the railroad would consolidate with other railroads to lengthen the line from Meridian, Mississippi to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The Georgia portion was chartered by the Georgia Legislature on 31 January 1854. The road was to have the same rights and privileges as the Alabama charter which had a capital of $300,000 divided into shares of fifty dollars each. In February 1860, the State of Alabama loaned $75,000 to the Georgia section of the road of which William 0. Winston was president. By mid 1863, the road was completed from Trenton, Georgia to Wauhatchie, Tennessee, about sixteen miles. The Wills Valley Railroad leased the track of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad from Wauhatchie to Chattanooga, about six miles.

After the Civil War, John M. Courtney and William L. Raynor bought the franchise. John M. Courtney became president with George W. Harris as superintendent. During 1868 J.C. Stanton and D.N. Stanton bought the Wills Valley franchise. Included in the franchise was a grant of land, about one million acres of land in Alabama, but the grant had lapsed during the War. The State of Alabama had authorized the two to take over control of the North East and South West Alabama Railroad. On 18 November 1868, the mergers of both lines was formed into the Alabama and Chattanooga Railroad with D.N. Stanton as president. In April 1869, the two were able to get the land grant restored by the Unites States Congress. At that time, the line was to run from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Meridian, Mississippi, a distance of about three hundred miles.

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