Category Archives: Dutchman’s Curve And Railroad History

Members of the United States Colored Troops to be commemorated in dedication ceremony October 19

I’ve said it before and now I’m saying it again. People and events linked to Nashville history can almost always be connected to people and events associated with a set of railroad tracks once known as Dutchman’s Curve. Movements of the 13th US Colored Troops are no exception.
The Thirteenth U.S. Colored Infantry was formed in 1863. Troops from the 13th were stationed along the tracks of Nashville and Northwestern Railroad line to protect the line from raiding confederates. At that time the tracks at Dutchman’s Curve were part of the Nashville and Northwestern line.
Connected! See how that works?
This weekend certain members of the 13th US Colored Troops are getting some well-deserved attention. The African American Heritage Society of Maury County announced that a dedication ceremony to commemorate the placement of the names of 54 members of the United States Colored Troops from Maury County and 4 white Maury Countians who fought and died for the union in the Civil War will be conducted on Oct 19th, 2013 at 10 AM at the Maury County War Memorial Monument located outside the Maury County Court House.
The program includes an honor guard from the black Civil War re-enactors of the 13th U.S.C. T. Regiment who will present and post arms to honor these men, as their names are read into Maury County’s place of history.
The Key Note speakers include, Mr. Patrick McIntyre, Director of the Tennessee Historical commission; Mr. John Seigenthaler, founder of the First Amendment Foundation, and Dr. Bobby Lovett.

For further information on the event: Jo Ann McClellan 931-682-3755 or 931-698-4765


CASTING CALL: Genealogy Roadshow, National PBS Documentary Series, Calling Nashville Genealogists

Our Dawson Kin tells the history
of one branch of my family tree.  
One thing I learned researching Dutchman’s Curve, the book I am writing, is that every family has an interesting past. For more than three years I talked to the descendants of people who were either witness to or victims of the worst train wreck in U.S. history and the descendants all shared their fascinating family histories with me.
  One  descendant I interviewed is the great grandson of a man once known as “Hickman County’s youngest Confederate veteran”, the grandson of a man whose name was once listed among Tennessee’s most politically powerful men, and the son of a U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel who presided over the Dachau Trials, a military tribunal, held for Nazi war criminals inside the Dachau Concentration Camp. His family history is just one of dozens that I learned.
Have you wondered about your family history?  Do you think you are connected in some way to our nation’s rich history and folk lore? Do you have reason to believe that you are related to one of our founding fathers or a famous, or infamous, person? Is there a missing person on your family tree that you would like to find? If so, the casting directors for Genealogy Roadshow want to hear from you.
Genealogy Roadshow is an upcoming PBS documentary series. They will be in Nashville soon to reunite local families with their past and to answer their questions about their history and their lineage.
 Like the popular series Antiques Roadshow this series will have a team of experts traveling all over the country. Instead of helping people learn the history of their family heirlooms, these experts will help people learn their own family history.
 They are looking for people in Nashville and surrounding areas that have interesting family histories and want help in reuniting with long lost relatives.  For your chance to be on the show email GRSHOWCASTING1@gmail.comwith your family story by April 18th and someone from the casting department will get back with you.

Next Stop On Grandpa’s Road, new book by Terry L Coats

Author, Terry L Coats

“‘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.”

Former State Senator Annabelle Clement O’Brien Dies

“She was Tennessee’s first Madame Chairman. At a time when there were few powerful women leaders in politics or business, “Lady O’Brien” showed us with grace and style that a woman can be an influential leader.”

Photo From Honoring Lady O’Brian
By Gordon Belt
The Posterity Project

Anna Belle Clement O’Brien: 1923-2009

It is with deep regret that the Clement Railroad Hotel Museum announces the death of one of our founders, former Tennessee State Senator Anna Belle Clement O’Brien. Miss Anna Belle, as so many fondly called her, passed away yesterday, August 31, 2009.

Senator O’Brien attended the Grand Opening of the Clement Railroad Hotel Museum on June 2nd of this year. She had worked tirelessly to see her dream come true: that the birthplace of her brother, Governor Frank G. Clement, would become a historic site and museum that would preserve and interpret the heritage of railroading, the Civil War, Dickson County history, industry and innovation, and the significant accomplishments of Governor Clement during his three terms of office.

Among her many accomplishments, Senator O’Brien was a fierce patient advocate. She changed laws that forced medical insurance companies to cover mammograms for women, an early cancer detection procedure that saves thousands of lives each year. Furthermore, Senator O’Brien was a champion for patient rights, helping pass the law that empowered patients to control their terminal care through a living will. In the Senate, she chaired the Transportation and Education committees, the Democratic Caucus, and helped pass significant education reforms under then Governor Lamar Alexander. She is often called, “The First Lady of Tennessee Politics”.

She is survived by her sister, Emma Gene Clement Peery.

Visitation: Thursday, September 3rd, Noon until 8 p.m. at Hood Funeral Home, 2371 Highway 127 South, Crossville.

Funeral: Friday, September 4th, 11:00 a.m. at the Tansi Community Church, 2067 Cravens Drive, Crossville. There will be visitation at the church one hour prior to the funeral service.

As an expression of sympathy, Bob Clement has suggested that memorial contributions may be sent to the Clement Railroad Hotel Museum at the address below.

Clement Railroad Hotel Museum
100 Frank Clement Place
PO Box 306
Dickson, TN 37055

The Bellevue History And Genealogical Group Hosts NCPS President Terry Coats

Bob Allen And Nashville Chattanooga Preservation Society President Terry Coats Address The Bellevue History And Genealogical Group
August, 2009

Last week the Bellevue History and Genealogical Group hosted guest speaker Terry L. Coats, President of the NC&St.L Preservation Society. President Coats spoke to the group on the early development of railroading in Tennessee with an emphasis on the development and history of the Nashville & Northwestern Railroad. Prior to the Civil War The Nashville and Northwestern Railroad provided service to Bellevue and the surrounding area.

In 1873 the NC&St.L Railways purchased the N&NW Railroad. Through the years this historic rail line has passed through the hands of the NC&St.L, the L&N, Family Lines and today is part of the CSX Railroad. This line, in service since 1859 is the main line between Nashville and Memphis, and is the gateway through that city to the West Coast.

The Bellevue History and Genealogy Group, led by Bob Allen meets weekly on Fridays at the Bellevue YMCA. As the groups leader, Allen assists seniors with genealogy research and secures speakers for historical lectures, he also coordinates and leads historical oriented field trips. For more information on the Bellevue History and Genealogy Group call the Bellevue YMCA of Middle Tennessee at 615 646-9622.

Interstate Commerce Commission Valuation Map Circa 1918 Depicts A Set Of Tracks Known As Dutchman’s Curve

By Betsy Thorpe

1918 Railroad Map Showing The Set Tracks Called Dutchman’s Curve
According To This Map White Bridge Road, was called New Bridge Road in 1918

In 2007 a group of railroad historians and local history buffs formed the Dutchman’s Curve Project to research and document the events surrounding the Great Nashville Rail Disaster Of 1918, also known as the Dutchman’s Curve Train Wreck. Terry Coats, President of the Nashville Chattanooga Preservation Society, is one of the group’s most active members.

Last week Coats visited the National Archives II in College Park Maryland to research “Depots On The NC&StL”, a book he is currently writing. In the course of his research he discovered an ICC valuation map circa 1918. The map depicts a set of tracks on the NC&Stl line known “Dutchman’s Curve”. The discovery of the map is an important find for the project because shortly after the train wreck in 1918 the tracks were slightly straightened making it difficult to determine the wreck’s exact point of impact. Now by comparing the information on the official ICC report filed in August of 1918 to the markings on the valuation map the members of the Dutchman’s Curve Project will soon be able to answer with certainty the question they are most often asked, “where did the collision actually occur”?

Historic Plaque Placed In Centennial Park

Photo by Betsy Thorpe

By Betsy Thorpe

In 1953 the Nashville Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway donated Engine #576 to the citizens of Nashville. The engine was placed in Centennial Park, where it remains as a reminder of the railroads important role in Nashville’s history.

It has been almost fifty years since the last NC&StL train passed by the New Shops and Centennial Park. Many visitors to the park do not understand the significant impact the NC&StL Railway had on Nashville’s development.

The Nashville Chattanooga Preservation Society created and donated an informative palque, that they have now placed in the park near Engine 576. Information on the plaque relates important events in the railroad’s one hundred years of service to Nashville. Park visitors can now read about the NC&StL’s rich history and gain understanding of the legacy of Nashville’s railroad.