The Middle Tennessee and Alabama Railway

Fayetteville, TN to Jeff, AL

In 1887, the Decatur, Chesapeake and New Orleans Railway was chartered to build a line from Gallatin, TN to Aberdeen, MS. However, only 37 miles of track was actually laid between Fayetteville, TN and Lax, AL. The railroad soon faced financial trouble, and the Middle Tennessee and Alabama Railway purchased the line in 1893 in hopes to complete the line as far as Decatur, AL. The MT&A only got as far as a station called "Jeff", just northwest of Hunstville, AL. In 1897, the line was purchased by the Nashville, Chattanooga and Saint Louis Railroad, part of the Louisville and Nasvhille family of lines.

Hard times befell the NC&StL during the Great Depression, and the line was abandoned in 1929, with the rails removed in the early 1930s. The respective rights-of-way were sold to both Tennessee and Alabama, each transforming the railbed into a state road, "Old Railroad Bed Road", which is still there today. Otherwise, no evidence remains of this railroad abandoned long ago.

From the rail yard in Fayetteville (where the former The Huntsville Branch of the NC&StL connects), the line followed Elk River to a tributary at Cold Water, TN. It then ran through Taft, TN and south into Alabama. Whistle stops along the way were Elkwood Section, Bobo, Ready Section, Madison Crossroads (Toney), Harvest, Clark and finally Capshaw.

The MT&A tell-tales are still in place even after the right-of-w...
The MT&A tell-tales are still in place even after the right-of-way was converted to automobile use as "Old Railroad Bed Road". Sumner's crossing over the Elk River is in the background. Picture taken circa-1940s. Photo by Thomas E. Bailey, Submitted by Phillip Kennedy.
*Top:* The MT&A passenger station at Coldwater, TN, shortly afte...
Top: The MT&A passenger station at Coldwater, TN, shortly after abandonment. Bottom: The MT&A crosses over the Elk River at Sumner's Crossing, a two-span through-truss bridge. Photo by Thomas E. Bailey, Submitted by Phillip Kennedy.

—  User Comments  —

I am seeking information and pictures of train depots on the line from Fayetteville to Capshaw. I especially want a picture of the Capshaw and Harvest depots. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Carol Abernathy
Athens, AL

There actually is two structures left by the railroad still today. The spring at the end of Dan Crutcher Rd. is where the engine would stop and a siphon hose lowered from the coal tender to take water for the boiler on the engine. The N.C.&St.L did'nt think the capshaw spur carried enough revenue to pay for a water tower so they laid the rock wall around the spring and used it for the water supply. And the last structur building wise from the railroad left standing is in the front yard of a persons house with tree growth on the right hand side of old rr bed going south after you pass toney fire dept. it was the Madison cross roads depot. The engine that ran on the line was a 2-8-0 Baldwin locomotive with a coal tender that pulled in cotton season 6 flat cars and a passenger car and a box car and a caboose. I know this because there was the daughter of the engineer that operated the spur train lived in capshaw and she had pictures of the train and her dad. She was 11 in 1927 and died in the late 90's. I made a exact copy of that train in lionel o gauge and run it today.

Clayton Burrell
Toney, AL

I live just north of Ready Section on Old Railroad Bed Road, when we built our house in 1991 the contractors found several railroad spikes in our yard, this also was the case with our neighbors who had built their house a few months earlier.

Penny Kennedy
Toney, AL

Hi, do you have any info about the history of the gold robbery at either the toney post office or maybe the toney depot? Rumored to happen in the 1800's and buried somewhere around the swamp of blue hole! Any info you could share would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

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harvest, AL

Go to the Burritt on the mountain, there is a building that used to be the post office in Capshaw, there you will find some Rail Road memorabilia.

Lionel Holguin
Harvest, AL

Will you please email me info on the original owner of the property. Was it Jeff Toney? Please forward me all info on this property. Thanks

Melanie Morgan
Tennessee, TN

Go to the web site below and search for names you thin that might help most of the records dating back to 1830 are in the database.

Lionel Holguin
Harvest, AL

Clayton, could you please submit the old photo's you have to the site manager's email at the bottom of this page? I would surely LOVE to see them, as would anyone else on this page!

Phillip Kennedy
Toney, AL

Anyone interested in the old Railroad or has any relatives are welcomed to call me and when available would love to show you and tell you stories I have learned from house that I know. Would enjoy learning new incite that could learn also. I am with Huntsville Fire and Rescue so work every third day but besides that will be available. anyone can reach me between 10 am and 10 pm. Thank You all for your time with this matter,Scott Ransom.

Scott Ransom
Harvest, AL

Harvest, AL

My Famliy owns the old Toney, Alabama Railroad Depot building and I still have the old TONEY Railroad Depot signage.

Ricky Ennis
Toney, AL

There is, was, old steel beams for a bridge crossing the creek about 100 yards from my house. Area is directly across from Endeavor Elementary school. The beams were stamped but all I can recall was the word Tennessee. The city has taken most away while clearing the area. I have also recently found a railroad spike in my walks where trees have been cleared. Here is a photo of some of the beams prior to them being removed to clear the creek.

Steve Banks
Harvest, AL

I grew up in Harvest where my father, born in 1916, lived all his life. He had memories of this line. I remember him telling me that Harvest was named for Early Harvest Apples grown in orchards there and transported on this rail line. I've never researched the story but it sounds plausible.

Woody Sanderson
Huntsville, AL