locked Re: Depot for St. Elmo, TN

Warren Stephens

George, Remember Southern had traditionally used trackage rights on NC&StL to gain access to Stevenson Alabama and therefore Memphis (west) and to reach the AGS on the west side of Lookout Mountain (south). This new trackage was supposed to get all the way to Stevenson but for financial reasons, they only made it out as far as the AGS. He is referencing railroad south and not geographically south through St. Elmo. 

This new Southern method of egressing town to the west and south was good for Southern but it added yet another busy mainline down town for automobile traffic to contend with. Chattanooga began the interesting process of kicking the railroads out of down town not long after Southern opened this new route. Very strange episode. The city at first wanted the railroads to elevate all their trackage in town. If you ever saw a vintage aerial of Chattanooga, there were 40 foot boxcars parked everywhere. The railroads countered with how would they switch these customers. The railroads did their best to ignore the city till Chattanooga went to the state legislature and had a Chattanooga Rail Authority formed with the ability - through imminent domain - to kick the railroads out of town and at their own expense. There were proposals for a new art deco union station over close to the National Cemetery and this is what brought about the CofG and NC&St.L abandoning their original yards and the relocation of the NC from town to alongside Southern and then both were elevated over Main street. Chattanooga is a most interesting rail hub. Far more interesting to me than Atlanta.

Warren D. Stephens

On Thursday, February 11, 2021, 04:35:14 PM EST, George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:


I cannot say definitively there was no St. Elmo station but I can find no references to it in any of the Southern files I have scanned. (The “line from the south” in his letter I found confusing.)


On Feb 11, 2021, at 3:50 PM, Warren Stephens <wdstephens@...> wrote:

To be honest I am not totally certain where St. Elmo ends and Chattanooga and/or Alton Park begins. This gentleman is obviously referring to the new Southern alignment which was being crafted partly by upgrading Belt Railway of Chattanooga trackage to mainline and then an entirely new right of way from just south of Shipp yard. This junction of upgraded Belt and new right of way was called “Southern Extension” in TAG employees timetables. Just below the meeting of old a new trackage a natural wye occurred on what was still the Chattanooga Belt. It was here that TAG turned their large steam engines after they outgrew their turntable at Alton Park. The new right of way began a climb to Lookout Mountain tunnel almost immediately after Shipp and was therefore elevated by the time it reached what I have always believed to be St. Elmo city limits. St. Elmo had always been connected to down town Chattanooga. By street car and by the Chattanooga Union Railway steam dummy and by the Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain Railway but as the letter stated only the street car remained by this point. Vintage maps indicate that there was a St. Elmo station on the Chattanooga Union Railway (later Chattanooga Belt) trackage used by Chattanooga Southern (later TAG) to reach the state line. I assume it was used by TAG and steam dummy trains and I can’t see it being very elaborate. By virtue of the fact that the new AGS alignment was elevated through St. Elmo, I doubt this station was ever built. I also doubt the AGS really saw a need for a suburban station that close to Terminal Station. As the crow flys maybe three to three and a half miles? 

Warren D. Stephens
CofG and TAG fan

On Feb 11, 2021, at 8:58 AM, George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:

Until the time of WWI, one of the marks of an “up to date little town” was to have its own freight and passenger stations. The SRHA archives have many letters, similar to the attachment, touting the status of towns, or even developers’ dream of where a town will be, to the Southern in hopes of having a depot built and becoming a timetable stop.

In some cases, the Southern would decline to spend the money but would offer to let whoever was promoting the concept pay to build a combination freight and passenger station on company property to be owned and controlled by the railroad. Having an established post office in the town was almost always a requirement so mail revenue could add to the revenues.

The attached letter from the St. Elmo, TN Business League is typical. SRHA archives "Box  O File 167” does not offer information on if a depot was ever built for St. Elmo (a suburb of Chattanooga).


<1916-1-19 St. Elmo, TN depot request.jpeg>

Join main@SouthernRailway.groups.io to automatically receive all group messages.