History of Campbell County, Tennessee

Time Line


By Dallas Bogan

Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan.  This article was published in the LaFollette Press.


     Found in the Lafollette Press of Apr. 20, 1950, is a short history of the Knoxville, LaFollette and Jellico Railroad. The article begins by stating that the K.L.& J. R.R. was started on May 12, 1902 and was completed on April 3, 1905, when the first through trains from Cincinnati to Atlanta, Ga. began operating. The track was constructed by the Louisville and Nashville (L. & N.) which road had previously acquired trackage from Lot, Ky. to Cincinnati and from Knoxville to Atlanta. Previously, these through trains had operated between Louisville and Knoxville, traveling over the Southern line from Jellico to Knoxville, thence down Elk Valley and though Knoxville.

     Information regarding the local railroad was presented in the Press primarily because of the L.& N. line commemorating its 100th anniversary. The locals tell of the hard times of the builders, along with the tales of the fights, tricks, etc. The opposition of other railroads and the railroad workers and their hardships in connection with pioneering a railroad through the treacherous mountains proved to be a debacle.

     The article tells that sometime between 1881 and 1883 the L. & N. lengthened its road from Livingston, Ky. to the Kentucky - Tennessee State line at Jellico. This extension allowed the coal seekers to tap the rich coalfields in Campbell County, and therefore play a big part in the history of local coal development. This addition also allowed the operation of trains between Louisville and Knoxville, thus an agreement between the local railroad and the old east Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad was finalized. (The latter became the Southern Railroad.)

     Opening of the 75-mile segment between Jellico to Knoxville occurred in 1893. Therefore, a number of branch lines were anticipated into the coal fields of Campbell County, which included such streams as Laurel Fork, Hickory Creek, Clinch River and Clear Fork.

     Feuds took place from another railroad company concerning the building of this railroad, with the other firm already on the scene. These debates or protests did not always confine themselves to the verbal of legal category. Disappointment over these disturbances caused the L.& N. to give up the road from Holton to Pruden.

     The line was later operated by the Southern Railroad with the L. & N. having trailblazing rights. Because of all the ruckus the Clear Fork Branch demanded police protection. Chief of Police J.B. Harlan and a task force was sent to keep peace and order and to prevent outraged locals from tearing up at night what the construction crews achieved during the day. Police command center was set up at Pruden.


     The first recorded train trip from Jellico to Jacksboro over the Knoxville, LaFollette and Jellico Railroad was recorded on August 4, 1904. The distance was 31 miles. Folks along the line stood in amazement as the iron horse galloped along.
Added by the L. & N. was the first "mine run" by the L. & N. in this segment in the fall of 1904, between Jellico and Corbin.

     This operation became known as the "Turn-Around" and was operated by Conductor Green Harp and Engineer John Callahan. It contested in popularity with the "Short Dog," an "assorted" affair, operating between Corbin and Jellico. A report states that the flagman walked virtually all of the 32 miles between the two points, since there were 19 stops in the 32 miles, with a variation in time, from ten minutes to three hours.

     With out this venturesome task of railroad building, the mountain country of Campbell County could still be limbo with no outlet for its millions of tons of coal, limestone and other natural products


     Cross Mountain is located four and one-half miles southwest of Lake City. It forms for many miles in Anderson and Campbell counties in the eastern portion of the main tableland in the Cumberlands. It is the highest point in the Cumberland Mountains west of the highlands in Harlan, Kentucky, and has an elevation of 3,600 feet. As seen from the air it is a long heavily wooded ridge with strung-out spurs, that forms a part of the dividing crest between the Cumberland and Tennessee River valleys. Extending from the southeast and northeast base runs the exceptional Walden's Ridge, which is a part of the Cumberland Tableland.

     The Great Smokey Mountains, which are more than 40 miles away, are plainly visible on clear days, and House Mountain and Clinch Mountain, 27 and 29 miles away, respectively, are renowned in the easterly direction. The plateau division of this region is to a great extent lost.

     Ascent to the top is by means of a country road leading from the south edge of Lake City to Swag Gap, is located about two miles from the top


     Jacksboro's first schoolhouse was constructed by John Queener, cost, $399.80. On January 1, 1831, the Trustees of Franklin Academy, namely, Abraham Hayter, John E. Wheeler, John Phillips, Wm. and David Richardson, Joseph Peterson and Joseph Hart erected the first frame school building, and later in 1854, Tucker W. Page was awarded a contract to construct a brick building. This building was known as Franklin Academy, but was not totally completed until 1860.

     The new brick structure was closed during the Civil War (1861-65) with the building often being occupied by troops. In 1865 Trustees James Cooper, Alvis Kincaid, J.S. Lindsay, W.C. Hall, John Myers and George Delap restored the Academy and for many years afterward it was regarded as one of the best Academies in Tennessee.


      The first steam shovel ever in Campbell County operated in the cut just above LaFollette on the new road. Dick Gaylor was sheriff at this time, and Lee Turner operated the Quarter House, a saloon on Tennessee Ave. A story is told that one day Captain Pratt, an engineer, got drunk one day and during the day, Charlie Roos, a barber shaved him eleven times.

     The chief engineer on the first job was J.E. Willoughby and the Construction Company was the Callahan Construction Co. The mud was "belly" deep to a team of six mules hitched to a wagon tying to negotiate Tennessee Avenue


Time Line

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