The history of the Tennessee Central (Railway and Railroad) is a somewhat confusing one. To compound matters, there were several Tennessee Central entities over the years, but one seems to have won the hearts and minds of railfans everywhere.
Nonetheless, the railroad is one of the more colorful railroads in history, even if its total length wasn’t all that long.
The company traces its origin to 1884 when the Nashville & Knoxville Railroad incorporated to build a line between Nashville and Knoxville. It never made it and instead laid about 76 miles of tracks between Lebanon and Monteray.
Eventually, the Tennessee Central, or one version of it, extended its route from Harriman, Tennessee, and Hopkinsville, Kentucky. But, the company was hampered by financial problems for much of its existence.
The railroad filed for bankruptcy but continued to operate until 1968.