“‘From the trains, onto the station platform stepped the backbone of American culture: the teacher and the students, the minister and the sinner, the farmers and the construction worker, the accountant and the drummer with his wares. Each person had his or her own story, each one using the train as transport to the next great adventure or maybe even the next phase of life.”
Excerpt from “Next Stop on Grandpa’s Road”
By Terry L Coats
Boundless paths of steel move across the landscape of America, they pass through cities, towns and farm lands; they wind around imposing mountains and stretch through wide open spaces. At one time they formed the roads that helped build the nation, as trains transporting agriculture and manufactured goods thundered over their tracks, delivering freight and passengers to the countless depots and terminals spread along their lines.
For more than a century railroads ruled supreme and throughout the country scattered depots and terminals bustled with activity as both railroad operators and customers conducted business inside. Many of the structures have been razed; in many instances overgrown tracks and crumbling platforms are the only reminders that a railroad station ever existed. Many have just disappeared; leaving no evidence of the status they held in their community or of the trains that once rumbled past their doors.
Nashville historian Terry L Coats has a keen understanding of how the early railroads helped develop communities and of the significant position stations and depots held in their communities. In his book, “Next Stop On Grandpa’s Road” Coats relates many aspects of Tennessee’s colorful history as he takes his readers on a journey through the past by visiting more than three hundred stops on the state’s first operating railroad, the historic Nashville Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway line.
“Next Stop on Grandpa’s Road,” starts with the founding of the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad, as Coats expounds on the impact railroads had on the antebellum south. The book then explores the railroad’s commercial development and place in local society, as Coats ably uses the history of the N&C to relate contemporary events. “Next Stop on Grandpa’s Road” gives the reader a candid look at a world gone by. It contains over five hundred historic photographs, illustrations and drawings. The images include photographs of railroad workers, locomotives, trains and trackage as well as photos and illustrations of the architecture and locales of the various depots and terminals on the N&C line.
Coats writes with the authority and confidence that comes from years of research and a passion to know his subject. He is known as the “go to guy” for those interested in Tennessee railroad history and is involved in several historical research projects. He is a popular public speaker. In addition to speaking on the history of the N&C, Coats is also sought as an expert speaker on railroad activity during the Civil War, on the famous story of “The General” (the notorious locomotive chase), and on the 1918 Nashville train wreck,( the worst rail disaster in U.S. history). He is the president of the Nashville Chattanooga Preservation Society, a group he helped found in the interest of promoting and preserving history and information related to the NC&StL Railway.
I recommend “Next Stop On Grandpa’s Road” to anyone interested in history or in railroads. Readers will definitely find it a substantial and fascinating book.
Go here to learn more about author Terry L Coats and his book “Next Stop on Grandpa’s Road.”