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Chickamauga-to-Durham Railroad Line

The original name of this 17.2-mile railroad was the Chattanooga and Gulf Railroad Company. It was incorporated Nov. 12, 1889, and on Sept. 1, 1891, its name was changed to the Chickamauga and Durham Railroad Company. The line was used to ship coal from mining town of Durham, Georgia, on top of nearby Lookout Mountain. The mines were operated mostly by state convicts who dug the coal from the underground seams and loaded them into 'dinky' carts that were then hauled out of the mine by donkeys. The coal was then taken to Rock Creek to be washed and loaded onto rail cars.

The railroad was constructed by convict labor and finished in 1892. In 1894 the railroad was sold, at foreclosure, and became the Chattanooga and Durham Railroad Line. In 1900 the railroad was sold again to the Chattanooga, Rome and Southern Railway. One year later, Central of Georgia Railway acquired the Chattanooga, Rome and Southern Railway and operated it until abandoned in 1951.

The rail line took a winding route up the mountain and wound around a point of the mountain, called Eagle Cliff, near Lula Lake, then across 14 wooden trestles in its path along rugged Rock Creek to the mines. The precarious route limited maximum speeds on the railroad to only 12 miles per hour, yet two steam locomotives were often required to haul the cars up and down the mountain. Two trips a day were made by the trains to the Chickamauga Coke ovens, operated by The Durham Iron and Coal Company, delivering the coal to be burned at high temperatures and converted to coke. Passenger service was also offered on the line until it was discontinued in 1936.

By the turn of the 20th century, the mines were producing almost 1000 tons of coal per day. The coal began to be depleted from the mines during the depression years and the coke ovens ceased operation soon thereafter, although coal continued to carried by rail from the mines throughout the 1940's.

The old coke ovens have been restored and the area is now operated by the City of Chickamauga as a park and educational facility. Also located in Chickamauga is the Walker County Regional Heritage/Train Museum.

Traces of the old road bed can still be spotted around the area today.

More information about this rail line can be found at

Durham Railroad Workers doing fill work on trestle
A work train filling in number 7 trestle on the old Durham line near Lula Lake.
Probably taken prior to 1920's - Photo copyrighted by Central of Georgia Railway Historical Society - used by permission

Modern Day view of the same area
Current photo of the trestle number 7 area
Photo courtesy of Warren D. Stephens

The Cenchat depot stood where the Durham branch crossed the TAG Railway
The Cenchat depot stood where the Durham branch crossed the TAG Railway
Photo courtesy of Warren D. Stephens - all rights reserved.

Steam locomotive and coal cars on the old Durham Railway line
Steam locomotive and coal cars on the old Durham Railway line
Photo courtesy Chickamauga Public Library - all rights reserved.

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