The Tennessee state legislature chartered the Edgefield & Kentucky Railroad on Feb. 13, 1852, to build a line between Edgefield Junction near Nashville, Tennessee, and the Tennessee-Kentucky state line (Guthrie, Kentucky). The railroad completed its line toward the end of 1859. It consolidated with the Evansville, Henderson & Nashville Railroad, chartered in 1867, in 1871. In 1879, the Louisville & Nashville Railroad purchased the Evansville, Henderson & Nashville.
On February 4, 1852, the state of Tennessee chartered the Nashville & Memphis Railroad to build a line between Memphis and Paris, Tennessee, roughly 60 miles west of Clarksville and 130 miles east of Memphis. On Dec. 16, 1853, the Tennessee Legislature passed an act allowing the railroad to change its name to the Memphis & Louisville Railroad. On Jan. 24, 1854, the railroad’s board of directors decided to change its name once again, this time to the Memphis & Ohio. The line would ultimately connect with the Memphis, Clarksville & Louisville at Paris. The Louisville & Nashville seized an opportunity to buy the line on July 1, 1867, after the Memphis & Ohio Railroad defaulted on its interest payments.
The Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad was chartered on Dec. 11, 1845, to build a five-foot gauge line between its two namesake cities and was Tennessee’s first railroad. Its first train, pulled by a locomotive named Tennessee, operated in April 1851 between Nashville and Antioch. After the Civil War, the railroad acquired other companies, and in 1873, the company amended its name to the larger sounding Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway. Despite its new name, the railroad did not St. Louis, and in 1880, the rival Louisville & Nashville Railroad obtained a controlling interest in the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway. However, the two lines remained independent until they merged in 1957.
The state of Georgia chartered the Western & Atlantic Railroad on December 21, 1836, and the state-owned line eventually built a railroad between Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tennessee. The railroad, which formally opened on May 9, 1850, was instrumental for the founding and location of Atlanta, helping it grow from railroad crossroads to a logistics hub. The Western & Atlantic was an integral road during the Civil War. On April 12, 1862, Union spies stole a locomotive with the intent of destroying the line. The state leased the line to a private company for the first time in 1870. CSX Transportation currently leases the line from the state of Georgia.