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Chattanooga Traction Company


The Chattanooga Traction Company was developed by C.E. James, the developer of the Tennessee, Alabama & Georgia Railway. Originally conceived as a means of transporting patrons of his mountaintop hotel from the valley to the hotel, a second line was built into Red Bank, and a freight business also quickly developed which sustains most of the line today, under Norfolk Southern ownership.

The Company had plans like those of most enterprises of the time, planning to extend lines to a number of far-flung communities in Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia. Again, like most companies of its time, their plans never came to fruition, and only two lines were built. One of these lines went from North Chattanooga to the top of Signal Mountain. The second, the Dry Valley line, was built later to serve the Red Bank community. CTC at the same time built a connection to the Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Railway near the road's bridge over the Tennessee River.

Passenger service was terminated in mid-1934, but freight continued to be moved by electric motors until 1940, when it was decided by the Southern Railway, which had acquired the Company's property in 1936, that the continued operation of those motors was uneconomical. In 1941, the use of the electric motors and overhead lines were discontinued and two small diesel locomotives were acquired, financed in part by the sale of the scrapped copper wires.

Later on that decade, the diesels were replaced by two other locomotives of higher horsepower (one was #4, a 600 HP EMD SW1, the other was #5, a 1200 HP EMD SW9).

The next major event in the history of the CTC came in 1969, when the CNO&TP directly absorbed the CTC, along with three other subsidiaries and at the same time the CNO&TP became a direct subsidiary of the Southern Railway. With this change the Traction Company truly lost its identity, since their locomotives, which were lettered for the Chattanooga Traction Company were repainted as Southern locomotives, and could only be distinguished by the small letters CT under the locomotive number on the cab sides.


CTC Diesel Roster

Road Number Model Builder # Date Built Disposition Photos
1 GE 44-ton 13014 April 1941 Retired September 1948, to Lenoir Car Works
2 GE 44-ton 13015 April 1941 to Southern #1954, retired 1966, scrapped at Chattanooga 1966
3 GE 44-ton 18159 January 1944 to Southern #1955, retired 1954, to Ware Shoals Railroad #1955
4 EMD SW1 4840 April 1947 to SOU #1002, NS #1002
5 EMD SW9 13515 November 1950 to SOU #1133, to NS #1133

View a map of the Traction Company route in Red Bank, North Chattanooga, and at the foot of Signal Mountain. This file is about 620 K in size so it may take a while to download if you're on a slow internet connection. This is a USGS topographic map and is in the public domain.


Red Bank line Signal Mountain line Today's CTC

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