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Tennessee Short Line Railroads

Published: April 18, 2023

By: Adam Burns

Guide Information

Caney Fork & Western Railroad

(reporting mark, CFWR):  The CF&W has been in service since 1983 when it acquired a section of the former Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis's (later Louisville & Nashville) Sparta Branch from Tullahoma to McMinnville totaling 61 miles.  It is owned by Ironhorse Resources and traffic consists of lumber, steel, fertilizer, grain, propane, and carbon black.

Chattanooga & Chickamauga Railway

(reporting mark, CCKY): The C&C is part of Genesee & Wyoming's vast collection of short lines and operates between Lyerly, Georgia and Chattanooga via the former Central of Georgia's Chattanooga Division.  The line is about 49 miles in length and its traffic includes chemicals, metals and plastics.

East Camden & Highland Railroad

(reporting mark, EACH): See Arkansas.

East Chattanooga Belt Railway

(reporting mark, ECTB): This terminal/switching railroad serves the local area of Chattanooga owns about 4 miles of track. The railroad is operated by the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and usually carries less than 100 carloads annually which includes paper, metals, and chemicals.

East Tennessee Railway

(reporting mark, ETRY):  This short line is another division of Genesee & Wyoming.  Its trackage dates back to the fabled East Tennessee & Western North Carolina ("The Tweetsie") with the only remaining section running 5 miles east of Johnson City.  

The railroad began in 1983 when the property was acquired by the Green Bay Packaging Company and changed to the ET&WNC name as the East Tennessee Railway.  It was acquired by G&W in 2005 and traffic consists of chemicals, food/feed products, forest products, and steel/scrap.

Franklin Industrial Minerals Railroad

(reporting mark, FIMX):  This small carrier operates nearly 16 miles of track between Crab Orchard and Harriman Junction at Rockwood where it interchanges with NS.  The property was acquired from the Class I in 2001 and its sole freight is chemical-grade limestone.

Heritage Railroad

(reporting mark, HRC):  This small short line is operated by Energy Solutions, LLC and operates about a 11.5 miles near Oak Ridge formerly owned by the U.S. Department of Energy.  It has been in operation since 1997 and traffic includes radioactive waste and heavy equipment.

Knoxville & Holston River Railroad

(reporting mark, KXHR):  The Knoxville & Holtson is a Gulf & Ohio short line operating about 20 miles and began service in 1998.  It operates between Knoxville and Marbledale but is best known amongst the public as hosting the Three Rivers Rambler train rides.

Kentucky West Tennessee Railway

(reporting mark, KWT): The KWT Railway operates a 69-mile system of unconnected lines, mostly in northwestern Tennessee, which also reaches Murray, Kentucky.  The road has been a G&W property since 2005 and hauls brick, clay, and food/feed products.

Mississippi Central Railroad

(reporting mark, MSCI): This railroad is another owned by Pioneer Rail Corporation, operating three disconnected lines; an 11-mile segment near Iuka, Mississippi; 51 miles between Oxford, Mississippi and Grand Junction, Tennessee; and finally 46 miles between Corinth, Mississippi and Red Bay, Alabama.  

The trackage is ex-Illinois Central and was acquired in 1993.  Traffic currently consists of wood products, fertilizer, and feed ingredients.

Mississippi Tennessee Railroad

(reporting mark, MTNR):  This short line is a division of Ironhorse Resources and operates 1.5 miles in Middleton to serve the Davis Industrial Park.  It is currently inactive. 

Nashville & Eastern Railroad

(reporting mark, NERR):  The Nashville & Eastern operates 110 miles of the historic Tennessee Central Railway between Nashville and Monterey.  It began service in 1986 and today hosts the Music City Star commuter rail service between Nashville and Lebanon, which began operations in 2006. RJ Corman took over operations of this property in 2019.

Nashville & Western Railroad

(reporting mark, NWR):  This short line is under common ownership with the Nashville & Eastern running between Nashville and Ashland City.  It began service in 2000 and operates about 18 miles of track.  RJ Corman took over operations of this property in 2019.

RJ Corman Railroad - Memphis Line

(reporting mark, RJCM): This branch began operations in August, 1987 and runs from a connection with CSX, just south of Bowling Green to Cumberland City, Tennessee with a spur to Lewisburg. Overall the line is about 100 miles in length.

RJ Corman Railroad - Tennessee Terminal

(reporting mark, RJCK):  This short line operates 47 miles between Memphis and Olive Branch, Mississippi.  It has been in service since 2006 and moves agricultural products while also handling transload services.

Sequatchie Valley Railroad

(reporting mark, SQVR): This railroad just penetrates Alabama's northern region and is mostly located in Tennessee running from Kimball, Tennessee to Bridgeport, Alabama. 

Its origins can be traced back to a carrier by the same but was for many years leased by the NC&StL.  It handles about 1,500 carloads annually with freight including plastics and lumber.

South Central Tennessee Railroad

(reporting mark, SCTR):  This short line, a division of West Tennessee Rail Group, operates the former Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway's Hohenwald Branch running between Dickson and Hohenwald (52.3 miles).  It interchanges with CSX at Dickson.

Tennken Railroad

(reporting mark, TENK):  The Tennken began service in 1983 when local governments in Kentucky rescued the former Illinois Central Gulf main line between Dyersburg, Tennessee and Hickman, Kentucky that was slated for abandonment in 1981.

The trackage is about 51 miles in length and the road's traffic includes coiled steel, steel pipe, petroleum coke, electro binder, plastics, synthetic resin, carbon black, fertilizer, and grain with carloads totaling more than 4,000 annually.

Tennessee Southern Railroad

(reporting mark TSRR):  This short line is owned by Patriot Rail and operates primarily in Tennessee from Natco and Pulaski as well as southeasterly to Florence, Alabama. 

It operates about 118 miles in all handling several thousand carloads annually with freight including scrap iron, coal, coke, wood pulp, pulp-board, sand, chemicals, steel, aluminum, and fertilizer raw materials.

Union City Terminal Railroad

(reporting mark, UCTY):  This short line launched in May, 2017 over 8 miles of former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio trackage between Union City and Rives, where it connects with the Canadian National.  It is privately owned by Brent Lee.

Walking Horse & Eastern Railroad

(reporting mark, WHOE):  This small short line operates about 8 miles of former NC&StL/L&N property between Shelbyville and Wartrace.  It has been in service since 1985 while the trackage is owned by the Bedford Railroad Authority.

West Tennessee Railroad

(reporting mark, WTNN):  This short line has been in service since 1984 utilizing the former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio main line between Jackson and Kenton, Tennessee. 

In 2001 it expanded operations by leasing from NS the former GM&O to Corinth, Mississippi as well as the ex-Illinois Central to Fulton, Kentucky.  Today, the road handles a variety of freight including agriculture, petroleum products, packaging material, paper, lumber, propane, and other products.