Gallatin, TN to Scottsville, KY
Note: Drawn from the web site below, and the archives of The Tennessean Newspaper.
As early as the 1870s, railroad surveyors from the Cumberland and Ohio Railroad Company had plans for a railroad from Gallatin to Scottsville. However, the financial ruin of some of the stockholders of that company resulted in the rights-of-way being transferred to the Chesapeake and Nashville Railroad Company.
This line was built in the 1880s, and to get a straight path, the railroad had to make a deep cut through solid rock close to what is now downtown Westmoreland, TN. This cut and the line have achieved some notoriety for the still-standing Westmoreland Littlest Tunnel.
At forty-six and a half feet in length, it's reported to be the shortest railroad tunnel in the United States and possibly the world. The story is that when the cut was dug, the farmer that owned the property, George Washington "Wash" Minnick would have no way to move his cows from one side of the land to the other. The railroad is said to have constructed the tunnel to satisfy the farmer's needs. A second tunnel on the route, two miles south of Westmoreland was called The Big Tunnel.
In July of 1906, the line was sold to the Louisville and Nashville Railroad which had an interchange at Gallatin. One historian said that the L&N bought up several of these short lines just to insure the protection of its territory.
During its prime, the line carried oil south from Scottsville, KY, as well as strawberries, timber, livestock and passengers. Westmoreland saw as many as eight trains a day during the line's best years. Many rail passengers came to the area for lodging at the nearby Epperson Springs Hotel. The 170-room hotel was famous for the supposed medicinal value of the various sulphur waters found there. A fire destroyed the hotel in the 1920s, ending the need for passenger service.
A problem with the route was that it had many high trestles and the maintenance cost of the trestles outweighed the revenue. Another fact that was said to have done in the line was that it didn't connect to another railroad at Scottsville, KY. On December 10th, 1976 the line was abandoned and the rails were pulled up shortly after.
In 1977, the Westmoreland Littlest Tunnel was appointed to the National Register of Historic Places.
On August 24th, 2004, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and Senator Jo Ann Graves announced that the state was granting the town of Westmoreland just over $106,000 to assist in the preservation and rehabilitation of the Littlest Tunnel. Representative Mike McDonald also helped in securing the grant to repair erosion damages to the site.
Thanks to Howard E. Espravnik for contributing information.
I know that somewhere in the gravel and sand of that tunnel toward the middle next to the wall is $1 and 38 cents I lost in 1969. I was visiting my great Uncle. I went to go outside and play while the Adults talked and wandered up to the tracks (where I was told not to go). And while I was trying to loosen a spike for a souvenir, I lost my money. That was what I was going to use to buy 3 matchbox cars...
The depot in Scottsville, KY is still in existence.
I'm so glad to find this site! I was trying to figure out what bridge the old bridge pylons located over Trammel Creek just north of Petroleum (south of Scottsville) belonged to. I was able to confirm the presence of a L&N railroad bridge in the area, and the map above confirmed the tracks would have crossed the bridge. Shame I cannot find a picture of the bridge, it must have been pretty impressive.
Growing up in Scottsville I remember driving by the old wooden trestle on the Gallatin Road. I also remember seeing a photograph in an office one time of the train crossing the trestle. I wish I knew where that photo was at now. There used to be several places along the Gallatin Road where you could view where the tracks had been. I'm sure the grass and trees have taken over pretty good by now.
My dad owns a section of the old rail road. Where it crosses Shooting Hill Rd and goes up the driveway is where our property begins. we have found literaly tons of plates and spikes. theres even a concrete marker on our land. i've looked for pictures of the land back in the day because there used to be a house or depot there.
I have some photos along this line. Some of them will be used in an upcoming book 'The Louisville & Nashville Railroad in South Central Kentucky' set for release in March 2012.
Wouldn't it be great to make this into a recreation trail?
the depot in scottsville is now a headstart school
I would like some old pics of the Westmoreland to Scottsville part of the railroad , especially the Scottsville, Ky. depot and trestles.....
I grew up in the Bransford (Bethpage) area, just walking distance from the Railroad tracks. My two Brothers and my Sister and myself used to walk the trestle sometimes. It crossed over a creek and a road. Our Parents were at work, so this was our secret for many years. I'm not sure what ear they took the trestle down. I moved away to another town for several years but in 1989 my Husband and I bought a house and moved back to the Bransford area. Our house is right across the road from where the Railroad used to run on Old 31 E. The Littlest Tunnel is just a few miles from my house. I take my Grandkids to see it alot. They think it's so neat to go there. The Westmoreland Public Library has some very old pictures of the Tunnel when it was in use.
Actually Tony, the old Depot in Scottsville is till visible from East Main Street, and is part of a lumber yard. The headstart building you mentioned is the original site of the Dollar General Warehouse. The L & N tracks passed behind Dollar General, with a roundabout between between it and the Depot. The original D.G. building was demolished a few years back, and a facimile was built that contains various community services.
My Grandmother mentioned that some of her folks owned a green house near the railroad.There was a trestle nearby and the train fell from it.The house was used as a makeshift hospital during the time of that accident.I have searched and can't find out any more information on it.If anyone has any information about the accident I would be interested in knowing the story. Thanks in advance
I think that I read somewhere that there also was another larger tunnel somewhere near Westmoreland. Does anyone know where that was? Is there anything left of it?
Yes, there is another tunnel near Petroleum community in Allen County, Kentucky on this abandoned line.
I mentioned earlier that there was another Tunnel between Scottsville and Petroleum. To clarify, I meant in addition to the two other tunnels. This one passes under a road and is filled in on the north end. The little tunnel at Westmoreland is the most well known and two miles south of it, there is the largest tunnel on the line.
we have a tunnel south of Portland Tn,which use to be named Richland,before the Civial War Erra. cause of its rich dark soil for crops like Tobacco-Strawberries-Corn-Cotton. the tunnel is south Buck Lodge Tn,.it had 2 Siding at the Depot telegraph office.so that trains would not run into each other going south and going north.from Gallatin Tn,.
The trestle at Petroleum across the Trammel Creek was about a quarter of a mile across and about 90 feet high. I found a picture of it at a local restaurant who has old pictures of Scottsville area.
Not only is that definitely the base of the former water tank at Rogana but I have a picture of it that was taken in the 20's.
I grew up with the train you are talking about. We lived next to the old water tower and the train past by in front of our home. I have walked the trestle that use to span across where Big and Little Trammel creeks come together. There is another tunnel and other trestles. I have old pictures of the train, water tower, and tracks. If interested you can email me.
The 1870 history and pictures can be seen at the Scottsville Ky, library.they have all kinds of picts of Steam Engines-and wrecked Engines-landmarks-Stop off at Westmoreland Tn,for passengers to go up to the Epperson springs hotel for the Menerial baths and to the market place of trade. but the hotel burned down.1920s the public didnt stop off there anymore. this caused a lot of money loss to the Railroad for repairs to the wood work to colaps causeing not enough money for repair to keep the railroad going on.and all the Depots-turn arounds.also you would see pictures before they were torn out-torn down-or burned down.and the wrecks of trussels colaps Engines fall into creeks-valleys of rain wash out.and deteriation of the bridges-Tunnels-and the Crossties under the rails. The switch from north bound Gallatin Tn,to switch off East to Hartsville Tn, was a crucial part of delivery.after the civil war,the rebels would damage the switch so meny times that they had to stop the Engine 1/8th mile back walk to the switch to make sure it wasnt booby traped to crash the Steam Engine going north to Scottsville Ky,with supplys. also coming back from Ky,with loades of Cotton Livestock and Oil from Petrolium Ky,to deliver on to Hartsville Tn.to be boarded on barges for travel this caused a on going battel with the rebels and railroad to keep up with the public demands for supplys. the Railroad finnaly gave up 1976 and pulled up most of the tracks to recover some loss for debt and repairs.
The September 2015 Issue of The Kentucky Explorer magazine features the Allen County Railroad and names some of the stations, list of names in a labor receipt for the Trammel trestle construction, and some of the research I have acquired in relation to the railway including the name of the overseer of the construction of the railway in the late 1880s. You can contact THE KENTUCKY EXPLORER to acquire a copy of that month. I also have collected some of the events of the railroad trestle collapse on the Highland Rim in the 1890's. My information includes the names of the dead that day and the following week from the wreck, the story of the conductor buying a tin of butter at Bransford and finding the tin in the wreckage. Allen County Sheriff was aboard but not injured. An eyewitness account is in the TN Supreme Court case about five years after the collapse. I have a reference of a derailment of a circus train on the line but have yet to find information about the details. There are opportunities for research if anyone enjoys the time of reading and searching out our railroad in Sumner County TN and Allen County KY
Oh yes Nick Kirby it is about 2 1/2 mile south of the littliest tunnel toward Bethpage Tn, On a warm day in April I would take a hike from Bethpage Tn. you can follow on out up the path that you can see the trees are separated by a path where the rails use to be. a real nice walk in the country and Imagine what it was like when you walk up or down the path. and all of a sudden I could hear a faint cry of a steam whistle going off in a distance makes the hair rise on the back of your neck. the thrill is now on. i want to do the rest of the trail to Scottsville Ky, parts of the tunnel still standing.
Hey Kevin I would like to get copys of your pictures to go along with my album.thank you
Thank you H D Overhalt you have a lot of good information of the rail road. I enjoy reading every ones comments.I try to get as much info as I can from Gallatin Tn library- Westmoreland Tn,Library-and Scottsville Ky,library as well. I enjoy the reading of the past.
Walt Mobley Yes Sir.it would. It is a adventure to do afew years back when I did this. but the property has been sold to others and fenced off like they don't want anyone to Treass pass on there property anymore. It would make a wonderful trail. pack some snack for the walk then stop off at Bethpage for lunch. then proceed on up to Westmoreland Tn, take a supper break. then proceed on up to Scottsville Ky, get a motel. then return back on down where you parked your car or truck. and return back to the old grind of the real world.
A project has been started within the Allen County Historical Society to restore the L&N depot in Scottsville. A grant has been approved for the purchase. This will be followed by fundraising and grant applications to begin the restoration. A museum is planned in part of the depot. Anyone who is interested in contributing or loaning items may contact me. I will be posting further information as the project proceeds.
Thank you very much Mark Huntsman for that Information. I would like to be there at ground breaking.I would like to bring some items that I had collected over a period of years.I use to make Ho scale.4'x 8'x 3/8" plywood layouts of Nashville Tn- Gallatin Tn, to Portland Tn, then on up to Bowling green Ky- Louisville Ky, which is L&N Rail Road. I made 1 for a Dr, St,Thomas Hospital 20yrs ago.1 for a Lawyer 5 years ago in Cookville Tn,
The Scottsville Depot now has a web site with a few pictures and other info: http://www.scottsvilletraindepot.com/ There are plans to restore the old depot and funds are being raised.
The Allen County Historical Society is raising funds to return one of the last two locomotives to serve Scottsville and Allen County. We have Tshirts with the L&N logo on the front and a train schedule of the Gallatin-Scottsville Branch on the back with all the stops between those two towns. Available from the Society in Scottsville or by calling 270-622-8951. Cost-$15.00 plus shipping. See the shirt at www.scottsvilletraindepot.com or on our Facebook page.
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