History of Campbell County, Tennessee

Time Line


By Dallas Bogan

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

Since a proposed passenger railroad line is in the making from Jellico to Oak Ridge, the writer did some researching and found an excellent account of Smithburg (Jellico) and the railroads written by Jellico historian Hayden Siler in 1938. We shall now take from his writings.

On October 29, 1878, a post office was created that was named Smithburgh with Thomas M. Smith as postmaster; the postal service was located on South Main Street. The name was changed on August 6, 1883, to Jellico. A short five years between these dates proved to be monumental event in the quiet little hamlet.

The year 1878 found the small town of Smithburgh a quiet little burg with its post office serving the Smith and Perkins families and the few who lived in the area. Prior Perkins lived in a small log house on South Main St., which was also the location of Frank Booth. There was also a small house on Fifth Street. Richard Perkins lived on the State line with Thomas Smith, James Smith and Josiah Smith living nearby.

Main Street was a cornfield, the road leading to Kentucky following the Kentucky Street of today. This road led north to Boston (Lot) and Williamsburg, and south through the present South End across Pine Mountain above Hoot-Owl Hollow (up Archer Branch (named for James Archer and family per George E. Archer of Jellico)), past Stinking Creek and Granddaddy Mountain to Big Creek Gap (LaFollette) and Jacksboro. This particular road was then used most extensively to the south. Another well-used road led through Crouches Creek, and across the mountain to the Hickory Creek segment now dotted with such towns as Morley, Chaska, and Habersham.

The years between 1878 and 1883 found both the Southern and Louisville & Nashville railroads arriving in Smithburgh. The Southern had made previous plans before for a line north from Knoxville. Surveying on this line began in 1867, and continued in phases until 1880. Caryville was reached in 1870 or 1871.

By 1873 the Louisville and Nashville had reached as far south as Livingston, Rockcastle County, Kentucky. July 1880 found an extension southward of the L.& N., called the Lebanon-Knoxville Branch, This line was begun from Livingston, and in December 1882 had arrived at the Cumberland River at Williamsburg.

With competition growing between these two lines, a race was begun to see which would reach the state line at Smithburgh first. Records show that the Southern line was completed in September 1882 and the L.& N. reached its objective in April 1883, a short four months after leaving Williamsburg. On the other hand, the older residents told stories that the L.& N. actually won the race. If this were the case, the Southern tracks were in essence completed into Smithburgh in September 1882, and so, the first train could not have made the run until after the L.& N. had made its first run. The Southern supposedly had problems with the bridge between Smithburgh and Oswego, which might possibly accounted for the delay. Smithburgh essentially became the station for both lines. On June 4, 1883, through trains were activated between Louisville and Knoxville.

Conductors John Rose, Dick Delph, Carey Ashby, and Pete Renicker manned the L.& N. railroad from Louisville to Smithburgh. Engineers were H. Farrar, Phil Soden, S.W. Pettibone, and Dan Sexton. Two freight trains operated between Smithburgh and Livingston and were controlled by conductors John Smith and W.C. Stanfill, with engineers George O'Mary, and John R. Carter.

Another railroad around Jellico was incorporated in 1892 known as the Jellicoe, Birdeye and Northern Railway. This railway was completed to Halsey in September 1893, which opened another rich coalfield for shipping.

The Knoxville, LaFollette and Jellico Railroad Company was incorporated in Tennessee on April 3, 1902. It was structured by the L.&N., merely for the intention of constructing an additional extension with the Atlanta, Knoxville and Northern R.R. at Knoxville to connect with the L.& N. near Jellico. This line formed a continuous route from Cincinnati and Louisville to Atlanta. In this year, 1902, the L.& N. purchased a greater part of the capital stock in the Atlanta, Knoxville, and Northern, establishing the entire route as the L.&N.

The extension from Knoxville to Jellico was to be built through the Narrows with construction beginning on May 12, 1902. It was finalized and in operation on April 3, 1905. However, trains had been operating over sections of the road previous to that date. A deed recorded on December 22, 1904, stated that the Knoxville, LaFollette and Jellico Railroad was turned over to the L.& N.

This line bypassed Jellico by a mile and a half. It was built to Saxton and for years a line known as the "Short Dog," which operated between these hamlets to connect with all passenger trains at Saxton. James Elmore was the conductor.

The Southern Railway, using the L.&N. tracks from Jellico to Holton, constructed the line to Fonde, which was completed in November 1905, just in time to open the Clear Fork Field. The Pruden mine opened in 1906,

Time Line

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