By CLAUDIA JOHNSON|
Published in CITIZEN June 22, 2004
Reading PULASKI CITIZEN issues for the a page from the past project
has illustrated to me how vital the railroads were to the development of
Tennessee and to Giles County. Today's page does not attempt an exhaustive
review of this subject and certainly not an expert one. I have merely selected
a few of the dozens of items about railroads printed in the PULASKI CITIZEN
over the last 150 years. Schedules and rates were posted weekly in the
years when trains were a major means of transportation.
Circuses, political debates, theatrical productions and other glimpses of
the outside world were available here because of train service. Likewise,
the train took our boys to fight on foreign soil, our youth to obtain
educations and our adventurers to places like the wild west or the cultural
Meccas of the northeast. While 19th century newspapers focused on the
potential for economic recovery and financial growth associated with rail
development, 20th century articles and advertisements progressively
reminded readers of the railroadıs waning influence. Many problems
threatened the rail industry, such as competition from motor vehicles and
airplanes, government regulation and labor union demands. As the 20th
century moved toward the 21st, passenger trains disappeared, freight was
transported by other means and depots, which had been the activity center
of many rural communities, were demolished.
Louisville & Nashville
1853-59 - Thomas Martin and a group of fellow citizens, including Ben
Carter, John A. Jackson, James McCallum and Thomas Buford, petitioned the
General Assembly for a charter to build a road from the Alabama state line
to Columbia. Martin became president, and stock went on sale for $25 a share
and Giles Countians in great numbers became stockholders. The quarterly
court invested $275,000.
1858 - CITIZEN announced completion of railroad to Pulaski with switch and
turntable in course of erection. Passenger service to Nashville commenced
1860 - The "Pulaski" (first locomotive) was on the Central Southern tracks
on April 27.
1862-65 - local tracks, bridges and trestles destroyed during Civil War.
NEW CARS A number of new passenger cars have been placed on the Nashville
and Decatur Railroad, and the passenger trains are not running independent
of the freight.
- CITIZEN, 1866
1866 - C&S RR merged with two other roads and became the Nashville and
Decatur Railroad with William Buford becoming president and maintaining the
office in his home at Buford Station.
The office of Thos. Martin, President of the Central Southern Railroad, is
kept in the counting room of Messers. Moffit and Cox. Those who have agreed
to convert their ? in the stock of the railroad can do so at any time by
calling at the office where he can generally be reached.
- notice in CITIZEN running throughout 1866 and 1867
The stockholders of the Nashville and Decatur railroad met in Nashville last
Tuesday to hear the reading of the annul reports and to elect directors for
the ensuing year. Giles County gentlemen elected to the board of directors
were Newton White, Thomas M. Jones and Thomas Martin.
Nov. 15, 1867
ACCOMODATION TRAIN - The traveling public will be glad to learn that after
today an extra accommodation train will run from this place to Nashville
daily, leaving here at 5 oıclock a.m. and returning at 9 p.m. This will be a
great convenience to our businessmen who desire to spend a few hours in
Nashville and return the same day.
- Nov. 23, 1867
Nashville and Decatur Report to Stockholders
The United States Government returned possession of railroad to the
Nashville and Decatur Railroad on the 15th of September 1865. During the
time it was used by the military authorities, the workshops, station
buildings, platforms, etc, were destroyed. The track had been frequently
torn up, the iron bent and then re-laid in a temporary manner. Of the 21
truss bridges on the line before the war, 12 were rebuilt by the United
States Government in the spring of 1865, and the remainder of the crossings
were left upon temporary trestles. All the original trestlework built by the
company had been destroyed and quickly rebuilt by military authorities using
any material that would last long enough to meet the demands of the army.
N&D operations for the fiscal year 1867: Total receipts were $374,038 and
total expenses $263,807. The total cost of reconstruction and extraordinary
repairs was $60,743. During the fiscal year there have been carried over the
road 181,741 passengers, of whom 9,654 were through and 172,067 were
- from a report of the N&D Railroad reprinted
in the CITIZEN Nov. 28, 1867.
1868 According to an article in the CITIZEN, Gen. John C. Brown, Col.
Solon E. Rose., Hon. J.P.C. Reed, John A. Tinnon and distinguished orators
from Lawrence and Wayne County spoke at a meeting at Bodenheimerıs mills in
the spring of 1868 to explore a prospective railroad from Pulaski to
Waynesboro and to review a preliminary survey prepared by T.M. Topp and Gen.
George W. Gordon. The newspaper published several articles on this
proposition in 1867 and 1868.
How would the people along Elk River like to have railroad running from
Fayetteville via Bethany and Elkton to Prospect? And how would they like to
see the Elk river from Fayetteville down dotted with flouring mills, cotton
mills and machinery of every description manufacturing plows, wagons, gins,
brooms, guns, furniture, &c.? These things are not impossible. It only
requires agitation, agitation, agitation!
- Feb. 21, 1868
In real estate rich soil and great waterpower we have sufficient wealth
to constitute a railroad between Lincoln and Giles Counties. Who will set on
foot some scheme to make this wealth available? Here is a great work for our
shrewd, enterprising and public-spirited men. Who will go to work?
- final paragraph of a guest editorial by "Civis" in the
March 20, 1868 CITIZEN
Freight Business Over the Nashville and Decatur Railroad
Shipped from all stations from Oct. 1, 1867- Oct. 1, 1868
Pulaski Forwarded, 6,125,870 lbs.; freight charges, $21,506.30; received,
572,215 lbs.; freight charges, $17,506.05.
- Nov. 6, 1868
A business gentleman of this city who ought to be posted about the run of
the trains, started to Nashville night before last upon urgent business but
waked up next morning in Decatur. It is said by friends who saw him at two
oıclock next day as he passed up the road, that he looked considerably
- April 8, 1870
A proposition of lease the Nashville and Decatur Railroad
The Board of Directors of the N&D RR had a meeting Tuesday last for the
purpose of considering a proposition for the L&N RR to lease the road for a
long term of years. The main proposition and the one that seemed most
favorable involved the lease of the road for 99 years. The Louisville
parties agree to keep the road in good condition to extend it to Montgomery
at an early day, to guarantee stockholders of six percent per annum during
the continuance of the lease, to pay as much of the roadıs indebtedness as
possible and, at the expiration of the lease, to take the amount so paid in
stock. Gen, John C. Brown and Major Thomas M. Jones were appointed
to confer with the Louisville road on the subject.
- March 30, 1871
NOTE: In editorials prior to the vote by local stockholders on the matter,
CITIZEN editor L.W. McCord supported the lease, stating in one editorial,
"Let Giles County stockholders remember that if the lease of the N&D RR is
confirmed, over $36,000 of dividends will come into the county annually in
lieu of nothing heretofore." The paper reported that the L&N board ratified
the lease "almost unanimously" and adopted a resolution authorizing the
directory to make a contract for completion of the North South Railroad and
another guaranteeing and endorsing $3,500,000 Memphis and Ohio RR
bonds for that purpose.
1871 - Louisville and Nashville Railroad leased the line from Nashville to
Decatur, and Pulaski depot was completed.
The New Depot
The new depot at this place was occupied by the agent and telegraph operator
a few days ago. We hear that the building in substantially but roughly
built, but be that as it as it may, it is a palace by the side of the old
one and is a great convenience to everyone.
- Nov. 7, 1871
1871 CITIZEN reported that just outside Pulaski on Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. the
axle broke on the passenger train traveling north, wrecking four freight
cars, tearing up 100 yards of track, bending rails and breaking cross ties.
None of the passenger cars were thrown from the track.
A number of our citizens left at 1 o'clock yesterday morning for the
Louisville Exposition. They had to wait at the depot eight hours for the
excursion train. They went on free tickets good for seven days, but there is
such great confusion in the management of trains at present that is doubtful
whether their tickets will last them to Louisville.
- Oct. 10, 1872
Trip to Louisville
Did you ever go to the depot with the expectation of taking the 9 o'clock
train at night and remain there upon a chilly night without fire or seat
until 3 o'clock in the morning before the train arrived? If so you can
appreciate my condition when on the 8tn inst. we started to Louisville to be
present at the banquet given to commemorate the completion of the railroad
that connects this city with the Gulf.
- from a lengthy and comprehensive account of the
Louisville Exposition by Solon E. Rose published
in the CITIZEN Oct. 10, 1872.
Great Southern Railroad
(Nashville and Decatur Division)
|South from Pulaski
|Memphis&Charleston RR junction
|North from Pulaski
- CITIZEN, Jan. 30, 1873
1873 - On the night of April 19 unknown individuals loosened and misplaced a
switch and otherwise obstructed the railroad tracks at the depot, causing a
train wreck. Through a ³Proclamation by the Governor² Gov. John C. Brown
offered a reward of $250 for the detecting, apprehending and delivering to
the sheriff each of the perpetrators.
1873 - A. Cox published a series of detailed articles in the PULASKI CITIZEN
throughout the spring of 1873 under the heading Narrow vs. Broad Gauge
The train ran over and killed two mules belonging to Mr. Sam Childers at
Wales last Thursday.
- March 6, 1873
Killed by the Train
Mr. Bud Hill, a man who lived upon the place of Mrs. Tyree Rodes four miles
south of Pulaski, was killed by the north-bound train last Saturday night at
Hickıs Bluff, about a mile south of town. He came to town that day and
started home after dark intoxicated when he met the train at the place above
stated, and notwithstanding, he saw the train approaching and the engineer
whistled an alarm. He failed to get off the track until the engine was
within a few feet and him, and then he escaped the cow catcher only to be
struck in the breast by the corner of the beam that supports the cow catcher
and knocked some distance from the track. He died in about 20 minutes. We
understand that he leaves a wife and three children.
- July 17, 1873
Three drunken men have now been run over in less than 12 months in Giles
County along the Nashville and Decatur Railroad, and we are beginning to
regard this as a first class means of putting an end to those who desire to
kill themselves by the slow process of alcoholism. Who will be the next
- Aug. 21, 1873
1873 A large gathering of citizens and local leaders organized in Pulaski
for what the CITIZEN referred to as ³The step that leads to fortune.²
Railroad development experts from across the country addressed the
convention, and committees were organized to begin procurement of additional
rail service, specifically an east-west line.
1874 Gov. John C. Brown, J.C. Lester and B.F. Carter presented the city
board a petition to submit to the citizens of Pulaski a proposition for a
referendum to subscribe $40,000 for stock in a railroad from Memphis to
Knoxville. The people voted overwhelmingly to do so.
1875 - CITIZEN reported that a local man, John Smith, lost a $10,000 suit
against the L&N in Giles County Circuit Court claiming he had been run over
by the train.
1875 exGovernor John C. Brown accepted the vice-presidency of the Texas
Pacific Railway Company, requiring him to live part of the year in Marshall,
Texas, part in Washington D.C., while maintaining a home in Pulaski.
The Pulaski Accommodation
We enjoyed the pleasure of a ride on the accommodation last week, and we
were pleased to find every thing neat, clean and comfortable on the train.
The coaches are really elegant and are drawn by a No. 1 engine. Colored
passengers have their apartments similar in kind to those of the whites
where they are not intruded upon by smokers, chewers, spitters, &c. and they
are satisfied with this just treatment.
- Dec. 23, 1875
1876 - Pulaski Mayor Osborn's refusal to subscribe the M&K RR stock resulted
in a writ of mandamus being issued against Osborn compelling him to
authorize capital stock to be paid in 20-year bonds. Osborn testified in
circuit court that the vote was void because the rail company was not
legally chartered. Osborn won and the case was appealed to the Supreme
"The CITIZEN has always been uncompromisingly in favor of the Memphis and
Knoxville RR for the reason that we believe it would be of infinite benefit
to Pulaski and we are not a whit less in favor of it today," the CITIZEN
editorialized on April 4. "The company can renew and amend its charter,
follow the line pointed out by the court and make another application to the
people, and then we can vote again. The people of Pulaski want this road and
they are going to have it. We hope they may get it." Of course, the road was
The change of schedule, which went into effect last Sunday, is an
improvement. The train goes north at 4:38 a.m. and south at 11:48 a.m. You
can go to Nashville on the 4:38 train, get to Nashville at 8, stay 10 hours
and 45 minutes, leave at 6:45 and get back homes at 10:12 p.m. the
south-bound morning train gets to Decatur at 1:40 p.m. and M. & C. trains go
east at 1:50 and west at 2:31, thus making close connection.
- April 13, 1876
1884 - first three telephone lines in Pulaski installed at L&N depot, hotel
and Rainey's Livery.
1885 - trains brought Confederate veterans from across the state and country
to Pulaski for first soldiers' reunion.
1897 - Reduced fares were offered for excursions to the Tennessee Centennial
Exposition in Nashville at two dollars for a round ticket.
1899 - lease between N&D and L&N was renewed for 99 years.
Air Conditioned Cars
The L&N Railroad will shortly have in service on its lines a total of 138
air conditioned passenger cars consisting of 16 diners and 119 day coaches
in addition to its air conditioned Pullmans. Last summer the L&N had thirty
day coaches and 13 diners in service, and in the latter part of 1836 it
authorized the expenditure of an additional $800,000 to cover the cost of
air conditioning of 80 more all-steel coaches and three diners. Work on the
tremendous task was immediately begun, and the cars have been rolling
steadily out of the South Louisville shops and into service ever since.
It is expected that the work of air conditioning, renovating, redecorating
and outfitting them with modern rest rooms will be finished by late June or
early July, This means that every important through main line will be
completely air conditioned or that a total of 44 such trains will in the
future provide cool sanctuary against heat, dust, dirt and noise at no
increase in the regular fares.
- June 16, 1937
The Railroad Problem and You
In 1836 when the depression was over the net income of all railroads was
$164,630,000. This was the amount available for improvements, reduction of
debt and dividends; yet even in that year railroads operating 38 percent of
the countryıs total mileage had no net income at all and about 39 percent
were in the hands of receivers or trustees. So what is the situation for
1937? The net income of $164,630,000 from 1936 is subject in 1937 to adverse
influences totaling $375,000,000. For the railroads to break even in 1937
they must handle nearly 30 percent more traffic than they did in 1936. In
addition, increased costs are pending that total $216,000,000, (demands of
five operating brotherhoods for 20 percent increase in wages and
Congressional bill limiting length of freight trains to 70 cars) making the
total $591,000,000 or three and one-half times greater than the actual net
income of 1936. The citizens of this country are so vitally affected by
these two questions that they should oppose them in every reasonable way.
- advertisement in Sept. 15, 1937, CITIZEN signed by the
president of the L&N Railroad Company
America has the most extensive systems and the best equipped and managed
railroads in the world, and we believe that these conditions are largely due
to the fact that American railroads are owned and operated by individuals
and private capital, while the railroads in other countries, generally are
owned and operated by the Government. While our railroads are financed by
private capital and were formerly operated by their boards of directors,
they are now greatly handicapped and restricted in operation by the
government, state and national, and by the labor organizations.
All classes of our people have benefited by the railroads. Not only those
employed by the railroads but farmers, miners, oilmen, lumber and building
material men, and so on. But did it ever occur to you that railroads,
extensive as they are, employing thousands of people collecting and
disbursing millions of dollars now have very little voice in management of
their own affairs? Government and labor unions dictate what they may collect
and what they must spend. Only a small percent of income may be spent for
equipment and repairs without getting permission. Passenger fares and
freight rates are fixed, wages and taxes are fixed. And last year the L &N
Railway paid Giles County $41,541 in taxes which were sued to help run our
schools, build roads and bridges and for other purposes.
The railroad industry is a giant bound in shackles. Instead of trying to
regulate further details, we should "loose him and let him go."
- excerpts from an editorial by CITIZEN publisher
W.B. Romine, Dec. 1, 1937
1938 - Overhaul of Pulaski depot completed.
World Wars CITIZEN reported local recruits leaving for wartime assignments
1950s - Passenger trains ceased to operate in Giles County.
1963 - In an effort to save railroads in Giles County the piggyback service
was developed in cooperation with the trucking industry.
1970s - Efforts by preservationists to save historic depots failed, with the
final blow being the demolition of the Pulaski depot, the last of more than
a dozen that had once operated in the county.
1969 - Tracks and crossties removed from L&N railroad bed in Pulaski.
1988 - The Tennessee Southern Railroad Co., Inc. began operation on former
Norfolk Southern track in Florence, Alabama in July.
1989 - On Feb. 1 the TSRR commenced operation on the former CSX
Transportation track running from just north of Columbia to Pulaski on the
old N & D (Nashville & Decatur) Main and from Columbia to
Florence, Ala., on the old NF&S (Nashville, Florence & Sheffield) Main.
Current - The TSRR interchanges rail traffic with CSX Transportation at
Natco located just north of Columbia and all inland barge lines through
their Port Facility at Florence where they transfer freight to or from
barges on the Tennessee River. The line, in which local businessman Ted
Lipman is a partner, is one of only two in the country that volunteers its
resources for the annual Santa Train project to deliver packages to
underprivileged children in Giles County each holiday season.