Chattanooga Railroad Series: Chattanooga Traction Company (Red Bank/Hixson Line)

Monday, January 20, 2014

(Chattanooga in the 1890s had 10 railway outlets with 66 passenger trains arriving and departing daily. The town was criss-crossed with train tracks, including not only the main lines but the connecting Belt Line. It's not so often today that you get a glimpse of a train in Chattanooga, but many of the old tracks remain. Many Railroad Crossing signs and switches are still in place, but these days receive little or no use).

After Charles E. James had built his Chattanooga Traction Company line from downtown to the top of Signal Mountain, he began to look for other territory to invade. 

It was decided to expand into Dry Valley, as the section later known as Red Bank was then called. Right-of-way was secured to White Oak and then past Lupton City and finally to a connection with the Cincinnati Southern Railroad near its crossing over the Tennessee River.

Service was started on the new line, which stretched about eight miles, in 1916. 

The track split off from the Signal Mountain line at the intersection of Pineville Road and West Elmwood Drive, where a station called Valley Junction was located.

The line goes under the current freeway and then under Dayton Boulevard just down from the tunnel and the Cherokee Motel.

The line proceeds just east of Dayton Boulevard as it heads north, going by the Midvale subdivision and other residential neighborhoods.

Just after it passes Chattanooga Brick and Tile, it crosses Lupton Drive and then curves east to head toward Lupton City. After it crosses Hixson Pike on a trestle, it advances past the old Dixie Mercerizing Plant that is currently being "de-constructed."

The line heads north near the DuPont plant before arriving at the Cincinnati Southern line in sight of the dramatic bridge crossing just below the Chickamauga Dam.

There were initially several small stations along the line, including one called Hillside that was just down from the Stringer's Ridge Tunnel. Another was at Valdeau further north, and then came the White Oak stop.

This Red Bank/Hixson line especially came into prominence in August 1919 when the Cincinnati Southern river bridge was condemned as being unsafe. Steps were hastily taken to temporarily haul Cincinnati Southern passengers and freight - instead of on the main line through East Chattanooga - along the little Chattanooga Traction route.

A temporary depot was built near the north approach to the Market Street Bridge, and Fred Bryan acquired five 20-passenger buses for transporting passengers from that depot to the Terminal Station. 

The Red Bank/Hixson line was never so prominent as during that busy stretch that lasted only until the river bridge was again ready for use on Jan. 20, 1920.

Passenger service was long ago discontinued on the line, but freight cars still run the route through Red Bank and on into Hixson. 


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