Friday, October 23, 2009

Bringing the Railroad to East Tennessee

East Tennessee Railroads in 1882
(Click on Map to Enlarge)

Bringing the Railroad to East Tennessee

By Samuel Folmsby

Under the date of July 4, 1831, there came from the press in the little East Tennessee town of Rogersville the first number of the Rail-Road Advocate, the first American newspaper to be published primarily in the interest of railroad construction. Established as a result of a meeting of citizens of Rogersville on June 21, and published by an "Association of Gentlemen" of that town, this little paper appeared every two weeks until June 14, 1832, and had as its object the stimulation of interest in what was then the novel idea of establishing direct rail communication between East Tennessee and the Atlantic seaboard. Although the fulfillment of the dreams of these early railroad enthusiasts was to be long delayed, the view they presented in the final issue of their paper proved in general to be a correct one:

Railroads are the only hope of East Tennessee. With them, she would be everything the patriot would desire;- without them, she will continue to be, what she is, and what she has been, a depressed and languishing region-too unpromising to invite capital or enterprise from abroad, or to retain that which may grow up in her own bosom. They are the only improvements at all suited to her condition. Since the construction of railroads was to play such an essential part in the economic development of East Tennessee, and since the inhabitants of this section were so early, so consistently, and so vitally interested in the development of this mode of communication, it is considered worth while to present in some detail their early efforts to obtain through the medium of railroad construction a release from the isolated position in which the restraining bonds of nature had confined them.

To continue reading: Click Here.

For a site with a large number of 19th century railroad maps: Click Here.

Note: A design flaw in the first site causes graphics to overlay the text on the right hand side, as least in my browser (Firefox 3.5). If you encounter this problem, go to your browser's "Edit" menu and do a "Select All" -- that will highlight the text and bring it in front of the graphics where it can be read.

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