The takeover of the N&C saw the TC reaching all of the way
into southern Kentucky at Hopkinsville and a connection with the
Illinois Central. Once again, tragedy struck the company when Baxter
passed away in 1904, which also left it in poor shape financially due to
the aggressive expansion that had taken place during his watch. As a
result, in June, 1905 it was leased to its major interchange partners
(IC, L&N, and Southern) which operated portions of the railroad
until it returned to independence in 1908. This lasted for only a few
years as the TC remained financially weak and again entered receivership
in 1912. Here it remained until 1922 when a group of investors
purchased the property and kept the Tennessee Central Railway name.
Led by Hugh Wright Stanley, which already had experience in railroad
management, the company was brought back from the brink and actually
began to post profits for the first time in its history.
Stanley remained at the TC for 32 years and under his leadership the railroad also saw one final extension, a branch from Stone River (near Nashville) to Old Hickory along the Cumberland River, which eventually saw the line served by a DuPont chemical plant. He was able to lead the railroad through the depression years of the 1930s, which saw it remain profitable through the end of World War II. As with the original N&K, coal was always the TC's most important source of traffic and it increased its tonnage with the commodity during the 1950s when the Tennessee Valley Authority opened its Kingston Steam Plant near Harriman in February, 1954. Unfortunately, by late that decade it began losing its main source of traffic when the TVA moved its coal contracts to other mines not served by the TC.
Additionally, mines the railroad had served for several years were beginning to play out and, sadly, by 1960 it was again posting deficits, never again to show a profit. As the red ink deepened it tried to diversify traffic by moving other freight, such as trailer-on-flat-car movements (TOFC) and in its desperation even contemplated running passenger trains once more (which it ultimately decided against). While profitable, TOFC accounted for barely $50,000 in annual income and by 1967 its deficits had mounted to $10 million, including a $4.5 million loan owed to the government it had taken out in 1950. The railroad filed for bankruptcy on January 14, 1968 and after an attempt to save the company by the state of Tennessee (which was vetoed by Governor Buford Ellington) the railroad was liquidated as of September 1, 1968. Sections of the line were acquired by neighbors IC, Southern, and L&N.
Diesel Locomotive Roster
|Alco||HH660||50||Acquired new, 1939 and scrapped in 1963.||1|
|Alco||S1||51||Acquired new, 1941, sold to Cadiz Railroad in 1968. Stored.||1|
|Baldwin||DRS-4-4-1000||75-77||Acquired new, 1946-48 and scrapped in 1966 after being sold.||3|
|Alco||RS3||248-260|| Most acquired new between 1950 and 1956; however, 248-250 were ex-Reading. All sold and later scrapped.||13|
|Alco||RS36||301-305||Acquired new between 1962-63. All sold and later scrapped.||5|
|Alco||C420||400-401||Acquired new in 1966; 400 now operates on the Apache Railway while 401 was sold and later scrapped in 1986.||2
|Alco||FB-1||801-B||Acquired new in 1949. Trade-in to Alco for RS36s in 1963.||1|
|Alco||FA-1||802-805||Acquired new in 1949. Trade-in to Alco for RS36s in 1962-63.||4|
(Thanks to Gary W. Dolzall's "The Tennessee Central Story, Part 1" from the September, 1987 issue of Trains as a primary reference for this article.)
During the steam era the railroad used some
quite powerful locomotives to lug heavy coal trains over its main line
such as 4-8-2 Mountains, 2-8-2 Mikados, and even 2-6-6-2 Class Z1a
Mallets purchased secondhand from the Norfolk & Western. It was the
diesel era, however, that really drew in railfans with a roster of Alco
models ranging from RS3s and
RS36s to FAs and C420s; there were even three Baldwin DRS-4-4-1000s in
use at one time (these were later sold). Aside from the TC's remaining
lines still in use the Tennessee Central Railway Museum is dedicated to
its memory, situated in its former master mechanic's shop that also
doubled as its headquarters during the last years of service.
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