A SHORT HISTORY OF AREA RAILROADS
Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan.
Of the remaining villages in the county, Caryville, Newcomb, Jellico and Fincastle, the last named is the oldest. It is a little hamlet that sprang up in the vicinity of Glade Spring Church. The first store was opened by John Cooper some forty or fifty years ago. He was succeeded by John Kincaid. Caryville was formerly know as Wheeler's Gap, and for several years was the terminus of the Knoxville & Ohio Railroad. It was begun upon land owned R. D. Wheeler, a son of Benjamin Wheeler, about 1868. The first merchants were Dr. David Hart, M. D. Wheeler and Frank Kincaid. At about that time three or four coal mines were opened, the first by James Kennedy and William Morrow. For the year 1873 the total product of the mines at this place was 368,325 bushels. After operating there for a few years a dip in the rock presented a barrier to the further working of the mines, and they have all been abandoned.
Jellico has grown up since the extension of the Knoxville & Ohio Railroad. It is situated in the extreme northern part of the county near the Kentucky line. The site was formerly owned by Richard Perkins, and Thomas Smith conducted a store in the neighborhood. A coal mine has recently been opened by the East Tennessee Coal Company, and is now extensively worked. Among the merchants of the town are William Province, Peter Perkins and L. J. Stanfill. Newcomb is a station on the Knoxville & Ohio Railroad, about three miles south of Jellico.
Railroads in the 19th Century
At first, trains had to be stopped with hand-operated brakes. Brakemen moved from car to car to apply brakes to stop the train. These brakes were too slow to work in an emergency. In 1887, new brakes went into passenger and freight trains. These brakes allowed the train’s driver to slow all the train’s cars at the same time.
Kentucky’s first railroad, the Lexington and Ohio, was established in 1830. In 1834, the railroad connected Lexington and Frankfort, and in 1851 it reached Louisville. Around 1850, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad received a charter. In nine years, the L & N Railroad connected the two cities by passing through Bowling Green and many other small towns. More railroads were built to connect towns in central and western Kentucky and to link Kentucky towns to Ohio and Tennessee.
By 1860, Kentucky had almost 600 miles of rails. At first the new railroads used horse-drawn cars. Very soon, steam engines replaced horses to pull the railroad cars. Many people preferred to travel by railroad rather than by roads. Train travel was much faster than travel by stagecoach or carriage. For example, when the L & N opened, it covered the 185 miles between Louisville and Nashville in 10 hours, when it would have taken 30 hours to travel by stagecoach!
During the Civil War, no new railroads were built in the South, but the war proved that railroads were a good way to carry supplies over long distances. Both the Union and Confederate forces used railroads to transport goods like food, clothing, guns, tobacco, and cotton. After the Civil War, many old railroads had to be rebuilt and new railroad lines were added. In the early 1800s, most railroads were built in central and western Kentucky. Eastern Kentucky had fewer railroads until after the Civil War. Many of these railroads were built to reach the area’s rich resources of coal, iron, and timber.
Anthras (pronounced ann’-thruss), was given its name, which is a derivation of “anthracite”, by L. I. Coleman, president of the Tennessee-Jellico Coal Company. Established in 1909, its population of 250 in 1930 had increased to an estimated 500 in 1938. Seventy-five miles north of Knoxville, the little mining community is located on the Clear Fork River in the northeastern portion of the county near the Claiborne County border line. The Louisville and Nashville and the Southern Railroads, and State Highway No. 90 serve the village. Its public buildings include one graded school and one church of Baptist denomination.
Chaska is an unincorporated village located in the northern part of the county on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad and on Highway US 25W, fifty-nine miles north and west of Knoxville. It is situated in an agricultural section and has no other industries. The educational facilities are provided by a county school nearby, and it has one Union church building that serves all denominations. Chaska was settle about 1820.
In 1867, the completion of the Knoxville and Ohio Railroad to Clinton added much to the prosperity, and other roads will soon be built which will still further increase its importance. The business interests of the present time are represented by the following firms: Kincaid and Overton, R C Dew, Henry Clear, Jr., Joseph Straighter and Mehan and DeBona, general merchandise; F Clear and J M Gamble, groceries; P M Lisles, Dail and Carden and ____Brooks, drugs. The manufacturers consist of the Edes, Mixter and Heald Zinc Company's Smelting Works, employing from forty to fifty hands: Narcross and Thomas' Sons Mill, employing about thirty men, and J W Narcross' planing mill.
The second largest town in the Anderson County is Coal Creek, situated about ten miles north of Clinton, on the Knoxville and Ohio Railroad. It is the result of the mining operations in that vicinity, and has grown up since the opening of the railroad. The land upon which it is built was principally owned by Randal Adkins and Joel Bowling. The first store was opened by Calvin Queener. The business of the present (1939) consists of the stores conducted by Rufus Edwards, Charles McCarsey, Heck and Petree, D H Blackburn, John Bittle and the Black Diamond Store.
In 1857 the county completed the issue of $100,000 of bonds in payment for a similar amount of stock in the Knoxville and Kentucky (now Knoxville and Ohio) Railroad, then under construction. From this stock the county has never received any dividend, and the payment of the bonds has imposed a heavy burden upon the taxpayers. The principal and the interest, amounting to about $300,000, has now been paid, with the exception of a few thousand dollars, which has been provided for, and the county is in a more prosperous condition than ever before.
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