Chapter 14:

by William S. Rule

From Rule's Standard History of Knoxville, Tennessee, with Full Outline of the Natural Advantages, Early Settlement, Territorial Government, Indian Troubles and General and Particular History of the City Down to the Present Time.  Chicago:  The Lewis Publishing Company, 1900.

[ Read Part 1 ]      [ Read Part 2 ]      [ Read Part 3 ]

Article from Review.
"KNOXVILLE, July and August, 1897.  
     "A few years since the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia system was reorganized under the name of the Southern railway, under the direction of Samuel Spencer and W.  H.  Baldwin, Jr., and put upon an advanced basis in point of equipment and management.  Standard steel rails, steel and iron bridges, heavy rock ballast and the strongest and handsomest rolling stock obtainable, followed the reorganization.  Connections were extended in all directions.  The old East Tennessee railroad, with the North Carolina extension, is now known as the branch division of the Southern, with division headquarters at Knoxville.  Here are also located the repair shops of the system, a magnificent new establishment costing over $500,000 and employing 1,000 men.  Thirty passenger trains daily traverse the East Tennessee lines and the freight business has assumed gigantic proportions.  To take one's stand on one of the main lines on any day in the year and watch the incessant outgo and influx of large fast freight trains, laden with coal or slabs and blocks of marble, with iron, lumber, live stock, grain and merchandise, affords a better realization of the great traffic of the valley than any bold figures could produce.  
     "Along the lines of this system which now penetrate almost every portion of the valley, is found an unparalleled diversity of interests.   Agriculturally this division of the Southern reaches an excellent region.  The strong upland soils cannot be surpassed, and the abundant water supply, both for power and natural irrigation, affords the first great requisite.  Of the 9,000 square miles of territory enclosed in the valley district, a great portion is covered with superb timber, embracing every variety known in the Eastern United States and many species peculiarly indigenous.  The manufacturing industries are extensive and growing.  The Southern has its headquarters in Washington.  
     "Scenically the Southern railway is not only unsurpassed but unequaled.  The route from North Carolina into Tennessee, where the railroad and the French Broad river pass together through the great mountains, is the most wildly beautiful bit of railway journeying in America.  It is an enchanted region."

     The Knoxville Southern Railroad Company was organized in 1887, and began the construction of its railroad the same year.  On the completion of this line to Blue Ridge station, where it made a junction with the Marietta & North Georgia railroad, which started some years before and was constructed as a narrow gauge to run from Marietta, Ga., north and northeast into the mineral region of northeastern Georgia and northwestern North Carolina, the entire line was made standard gauge, and was taken up under the same management.  But the division of the old Marietta & North Georgia railroad from Blue Ridge station to Murphy, N. C., a distance of twenty-five miles, is still a narrow gauge.

     At Marietta connection is made with the Western & Atlantic railroad, and in this way solid trains have since been run from Knoxville to Atlanta.

     From Knoxville the Knoxville Southern, as it was originally called, but which is at the present time known as the Atlanta, Knoxville & Northern railroad, runs through an agricultural country, until it reaches Louisville, fourteen miles from Knoxville, and six miles further on reaches Friendsville, an old Quaker settlement.  Madisonville, the county seat of Monroe county, is forty-four miles from Knoxville.  Jellico Junction is sixty-one miles and Wetmore, at the head of navigation on the Hiwassee river is sixty-seven miles from Knoxville.  From this place there is weekly steamboat connection with Knoxville and Chattanooga.

     The Knoxville Southern Railroad Company on August 13, 1887, asked the mayor and board of aldermen of the city of Knoxville for a subscription to its capital stock of $275,000, to be paid for in the company's stock, to aid in the construction of the road, under an act of assembly passed February 17, 1887, regulating the manner in which counties and municipalities might subscribe to the capital stock of railroad companies, and upon the submission of the question to the people of Knoxville as to whether they would authorize such subscription, there were cast for the subscription 3,329 votes, to 20 against it.  The conditions upon which the bonds thus voted to be issued were that they should be twenty-year, five per cent  bonds, to be issued to the company when it should have completed its road from a point within one mile of the city of Knoxville to the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee, where said state line crosses the Hiwassee river, the road to be of the standard gauge, to make connection with the Marietta & North Georgia railroad, and have its trains running from Knoxville to the city of Atlanta.

     The railroad was completed within the next three years, and on August 25, 1890, a committee of the mayor and board of aldermen appointed for the purpose, reported that the road began at a point on the south side of the Tennessee river within one mile of the city of Knoxville, that it was a standard gauge, steel railroad, that the southern terminus was at the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee and that the cars had run into the city of Atlanta from Knoxville and into the city of Knoxville from Atlanta.  All the conditions having therefore been complied with by the railroad company, an ordinance was passed by the mayor and aldermen of Knoxville, September 2, 1890, that upon the receipt of the stock of the company for $275,000, the bonds of the city should be delivered to W. B. Bradley, president, and George R. Eager, agent and attorney for the company, and the transfer was actually made on September 3, the city receiving certificate No. 176 for 2,750 shares of the stock of the company and the interest on the bonds from July 1, 1890, to September 3, 1890, amounting to, $2,367.75, giving the bonds in exchange therefor.

     This company was afterward consolidated with the Marietta & North Georgia Railroad Company, the consolidation being authorized by legislation both by the state of Georgia and the state of Tennessee.  The first legislation of Georgia on this subject was had December 17, 1892, and this act was amended December 15, 1894, and also December 16, 1895.  Under these acts the Atlanta, Knoxville & Northern Railroad Construction Company had become lawful purchasers of the property and franchises of the Marietta & North Georgia Railroad Company through a judicial sale of the same in the city of Marietta, Ga., which sale was confirmed by the circuit court for the northern district of Georgia, January 6, 1896.  This company, therefore, filed a petition in the office of the secretary of state of Georgia praying for the formation of a corporation to exist for the period of 101 years with the right to renew the charter, and to be known as the Atlanta, Knoxville & Northern Railroad Company, the petitioners being Charles A. Collier, Eugene C. Spalding, Charles S. Northern, Jacob Haas, Victor L. Smith, William T. Spalding, Edward K. Barnes, Theodore A. Hammond, Jr., Henry L. Smith, and Alexander W. Smith, all of Fulton county, Ga.  Their petition was that they be substituted for the original incorporators of the Marietta & North Georgia Railroad Company, that they should have a capital of $3,000,000, to be used for operating the lines of railroad previously owned by the Marietta & North Georgia Railroad Company, between Marietta, Ga., and Knoxville, Tenn., and between Blue Ridge, Ga., and Murphy, Tenn. [sic], and the prayer of the petitioners was granted, the company being incorporated by the state of Georgia, and the charter being filed for record in Knoxville, November 6, 1896.  Since that time the roads mentioned above have been owned and operated by the Atlanta, Knoxville & Northern Railway Company.

     The Knoxville, Cumberland Gap & Louisville railroad was formerly the Powell's Valley railroad, and was begun in 1887, about the same time as the Knoxville Southern railroad, now the Atlanta, Knoxville & Northern.  It extends from Knoxville to Middlesboro, Ky., a distance of seventy-three miles, and in an almost exactly northern direction.  It passes through Beverly, Corryton, Powder Springs, Lone Mountain, Powell's River and Cumberland Gap, the latter station being three miles from Middleboro [sic].

     In order to assist in the construction of this road, the city of Knoxville, upon invitation, subscribed $225,000 to the stock of the company, and agreed to give in exchange therefor the same amount in bonds of the city, the election to determine the will of the voters being held August 13, 1887, at the same time the vote was taken on the subscription to the stock of the Knoxville Southern Railroad Company, and with almost precisely the same result, the vote in case of the Powell's Valley railroad stock being 3,328 in favor to 20 against it.  This is a very useful road to the city of Knoxville, as it passes through a rich agricultural and mining country, and almost exactly over the old Cumberland Gap trail, which had for nearly a century been used as a wagon road, and which during the civil war was famous as being the only practicable route from the North into the valley of the Tennessee, and was kept open by the government of the United States at enormous expense.  At Knoxville this road connects with the Knoxville Belt railroad, and at Middleboro [sic] with the Middleboro [sic] Belt railroad, thus increasing its mileage considerably, and it also has short spurs running out from the main line to coal mines at several places.

     On August 22, 1889, an excursion party from Knoxville and West Knoxville, being on board a train making a tour of observation over this road, a very serious accident occurred at Flat Creek, Grainger county, Tenn., in which several citizens of the two corporations were either killed or wounded.  Those who were killed were Col. Isham Young, chairman of the board of public works of Knoxville, and Alderman F. Hockenjos of the same city; S. T. Powers and Alexander Reeder and Judge George Andrews of West Knoxville.  The wounded were Peter Kern and Aldermen Barry and Perry, and Citizens H. H. Ingersoll, H. H. Taylor, A. J. Albers, John T. Hearn, Dr. West, Alexander A. Arthur, Hugh McKeldin, A. M. Wilson, W. I. Smith, C. Aebli, H. Schubert, R. Schmidt, E. W. Adkins and E. S. Kinzel, all of Knoxville; and Hon. George L. Maloney, H. B. Wetzel, Ed. Barker, W. W. Woodruff and Thomas Rodgers, citizens, and Aldermen Park and Ross of West Knoxville.

     This accident produced a profound sensation in the two corporations, and the boards of mayor and aldermen of each passed suitable resolutions expressive of sympathy for the families to whom such great calamities had come.

     August 30, 1889, Mayor Condon of Knoxville conveyed the information to the board of aldermen that he had been notified by the proper authorities of the Knoxville, Cumberland Gap & Louisville Railroad Company that their road had been completed according to contract as a standard gauge road and that connections had been made at Cumberland Gap with the Louisville & Nashville railroad, and that he had appointed J. C. Anderson and William Park to make an investigation of the condition and quality of the road.  September 27, 1889, the railroad company made a demand on the city of Knoxville for the $225,000 in bonds or the same amount in cash, in accordance with the contract with the city, made as above related, their road having been, as they said, completed according to their contract.  The entire matter was referred by the board of mayor and aldermen to the finance committee to investigate and report back to the board.

L&N Station circa 1915
L&N Station, Knoxville, circa 1915

     October 12, 1889, two reports were submitted, a majority and minority report, the former signed by George W. Albers and Samuel B. Boyd, Jr., being to the effect that the railroad company had not complied with its contract, but in what particulars the report did not state.  The opinion of the majority was sustained by the opinion of Attorney Joseph W. Sneed.  The minority report, signed by W. C. Perry, was to the effect that the railroad company had complied with its contract in every particular — that the rails were of steel, the roadbed well tied, the bridges and trestles in good shape, and that connection had been made with the Louisville & Nashville railroad in Claiborne county, 460 feet south of the Tennessee state line.  The minority report was adopted by the board of mayor and aldermen.  ''On October 25, 1889, Alderman Perry requested that the city attorney be instructed to draw up an ordinance authorizing the issuance of the bonds of the city for the $225,000 to the Knoxville, Cumberland Gap & Louisville Railroad Company, and on November 8, following, such an ordinance was passed on its first reading by the following vote: Aye — J. D. Selby, Barry, Knaffle, Jones, Horne, Perry and McDaniel; and nays — Boyd and Albers.  November 22, 1889, Mr. Templeton and Major T. S. Webb, attorneys for the railroad company, presented the case of the company to the council, asking for the issue of the bonds, and the city attorney expressed his opinion.   Alderman Perry called up the ordinance for the issue of the bonds for its second reading, and on motion of Alderman McDaniel the entire matter was referred to a committee of five aldermen, to be assisted by the city attorney, to investigate the financial condition of the company — this committee being composed of Aldermen Selby, Boyd, McDaniel, Knaffle and Albers.   December 20 this committee reported to the board that they had investigated the financial condition of the company in connection with the city attorney and Gen. Hood, and had been informed by the company that the stock book was in New York city, which fact from necessity terminated their investigations.  They had been informed, however, that the company owned no stock, having turned it over to the construction company, which had disposed of it together with the first mortgage bonds, which this company had sold in order to enable it to build the road.

     November 21, 1890, W. P. Washburn, presented an argument to the board in favor of the Knoxville, Cumberland Gap & Louisville Railroad Company, stating that they had completed the road in accordance with their contract to its final connection with the Louisville & Nashville railroad, at Cumberland Gap, and that the company then made application for the issuance of the bonds, or the payment of so much money in cash.  The city council replied by passing the following series of resolutions:

     "Whereas, The matter of the issuance of $225,000 in bonds of this city to the Knoxville, Cumberland Gap & Louisville Railroad Company has been heretofore fully investigated by a former board with the assistance of expert railroad engineers, of the city attorney and a special attorney employed by the city; and,
     "Whereas, The board making the investigation was the one legally existing at the time of the expiration of the railroad company's contract with the city, and was in full possession of all the facts in the case, and after such investigation reached the conclusion adverse to the issuance of said bonds; and,
     "Whereas, This board is unwilling to issue bonds of the city which may be subject to the charge or even suspicion of invalidity and believes that any bonds now issued in response to the application at present made by the Knoxville, Cumberland Gap & Louisville Railroad Company, would be subject to such a charge; and,
     "Whereas, This board has not the same opportunities of forming correct judgment in the premises as were possessed by its predecessors and does not feel warranted in reversing the action of its predecessors, therefore,

     "Be it resolved, That, while this board has the desire and purpose to regard and satisfy all just demands against the city, it declines to comply with the request now made by the Knoxville, Cumberland Gap & Louisville Railroad Company, and to the end that the question may be put at rest, suggests to said company the propriety of securing a determination thereof in the courts of the country, with the purpose of thereby securing a final and indisputable settlement of the rights of the parties and of saving the obligations of the city from attack or suspicion in the event the courts shall adjudge that the city must issue the bonds."

     The Knoxville, Cumberland Gap & Louisville Railroad Company thereupon brought suit against the city for the purpose of compelling it to issue the bonds, filing its original bill December 20, 1890, the city filing its answer in January, 1891, setting up more than twenty different defenses — technical and meritorious — the principal one being that the railroad company had not constructed its road within the time and according to the terms prescribed in the contract.  Another defense was that Knoxville's subscription had, prior to the suit, been assigned by the railroad company to the Cumberland Gap Construction Company, and that the railroad company had no legal interest in the subscription.  The railroad company thereupon amended their bill and alleged the assignment of the subscription to the Cumberland Gap Construction Company and made that company a co-complainant.  After voluminous argument on both sides of the case, Chancellor Gibson, on June 19, 1893, held that the terms of the contract had been in all respects complied with by the railroad company, and that the construction company, as assignee of the contract of subscription, was entitled to the city's bonds, and decreed their issuance.

     The city appealed the decree to the supreme court, which, on November 20, 1894, held that the railroad company had cornplied in all respects with the terms of its contract and was entitled to the bonds or to the cash on November 21, 1890, provided the railroad company was then able or was able on November 20, 1894, to deliver to the city the stock subscribed for; but as the court was not satisfied that the railroad company was able to deliver the stock oil either date, it ordered and decreed that the cause be remanded to the Chancery court at Knoxville to be there referred to the clerk and master for proof and report on this point.

     This decree was presented to the Chancery court December 18, 1894, and on June 27, 1895, the master reported that the railroad company was able to deliver its stock on December 26, 1890, and on November 20, 1894.   Exceptions were filed by the city July 6, 1895, and the cause was heard by Chancellor Lindsay on the master's report and on the exceptions, July 30, 1895, the chancellor overruling the exceptions and decreeing that the railroad company was able to deliver the stock on the days given above, and decreed that the city should within ninety days issue its bonds for $225,000 to the railroad company.

     The city again appealed to the supreme court, which, after long argument on both sides, decided that it was proven that the railroad company nor the Cumberland Gap Construction Company could deliver the stock to the city at either of the dates mentioned, as all of the stock of the company had been issued to the construction company, which itself had hypothecated all of the stock received from the railroad company, and had actually expended of its own money, $289,500, which amount was to the construction company a total loss.   The supreme court decision was made November 16, 1896, the bill of the complainants being deemed invalid, and the unadjudged costs in that court and in the courts below were to be paid by the complainants.  And in this way the city of Knoxville was saved from the issue of its bonds.  The cost of the road to the construction company was $2,069,560.14.  The only cost to the city of Knoxville for being saved from the issuance of these bonds, which, together with the accrued interest at the time the decision was reached, would have amounted to near $300,000, was the fees paid her attorneys, viz.: To John W. Yoe, $10,000, and to Joseph W. Sneed, $15,500, this latter sum being so fixed by the Supreme court of the state of Tennessee, which reduced it from $20,000, as it had been fixed by the court of appeals.

     The Knoxville Belt Railway Company was chartered February 28, 1887, by A. L. Maxwell, O. P. Temple, J. W. S. Frierson, Sam House, W. R. Tuttle, William Morrow, A. A. Arthur, Henry B. Wetzel and Charles Seymour, for the purpose of constructing a railway from near the mouth of William's Spring branch, near the Crescent Marble Company's quarries, about one mile above the mouth of First creek on the Tennessee river; thence northwest, passing through or near the fair grounds, crossing the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia railway, near the zinc works, and on up the valley of First creek to a point near where the Broad street turnpike crosses said creek, and thence around the city in such a way as to cross the Knoxville & Ohio railway at a point near the Brookside Cotton mills; thence on to the valley of Third creek not far from where the old Clinton road from Knoxville crosses the north prong of the east fork of Third creek; thence down the valley of Third creek, crossing the tracks of the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia railway near the car works, and thence on down the valley of Third creek to the Tennessee river; thence up the river along the northern bank to the point of beginning, making a complete circuit of the city, in a line twelve miles in length.

     During the years 1887, 1888 and 1889 a portion of this line was constructed, Reps Jones contracting for the construction of three miles of it, and put a number of men to work on the line from a point near the cotton mills down to the mouth of Third creek.  In 1889 it was determined that the road should run along the north bank of the Tennessee river to the mouth of Second creek and thence up Second creek to a point where it was designed to erect a union depot.  About one-half of the line as originally designed has been constructed.

     One of the latest railroad projects in which Knoxville is interested is that of Colonel Boone's Black Diamond system of railways, which it is designed to build from some point or points in a northern state or in northern states through Knoxville to the Atlantic coast at Port Royal, S. C.  This route is practically the one selected or favored by John C. Calhoun in 1837, and on which some work was done; but by reason of the breaking out of the war the project had to be abandoned.  This dream of Calhoun, therefore, lay dormant until 1893, when a convention of friends of the enterprise met at Knoxville, attended by delegates from South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee, some of the original directors of the road being present.

     Colonel Albert E. Boone of Zanesville, Ohio, having gained considerable reputation as a railroad promoter, was sent for, and has since had charge of the project.  The original plan was to construct a road from the Jellico coal fields to the sea, but as there would be great, if not insuperable, difficulties in attempting to financier a local road, Col. Boone insisted that the road be extended to the Ohio river, and later to the capitals of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, and also that it be a double track road throughout.

     Two other points Col. Boone insisted upon; first, that the grades should not exceed sixty-six feet to the mile, which the surveys show has already been accomplished; and second, the colonel interested the people along the proposed route to invest in the franchises and surveys, and they by subscriptions from $5 up to $250 raised enough money to secure the rights of way and to make the necessary surveys of the line, this money to be returned to the subscribers when the road is under construction.

     Early in February, 1899, Col. Boone announced that the capital necessary to construct this line of railroad had been secured from English sources, and there the matter rests at the present time, March 1, 1899.

[ Continue reading this history ]

[ Read Part 1 of this chapter ]
[ Read Part 2 of this chapter ]
[ Read Part 3 of this chapter ]
[ Return to Rule's History Index Page ]
[ Return to Knox County TNGenWeb History Page ]
[ Return to Knox County TNGenWeb Main Page ]

All HTML code on this page was created by and copyrighted ©1999-2002 to Billie R. McNamara.  All rights reserved. Please direct all questions and comments to Ms. McNamara.  Background graphic image was borrowed from Fred Smoot.  Used by permission.
This page was last updated .