Smoky Mountain Railroad
|Smoky Mountain Railroad|
|Dates of operation||1910–1962|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
The railroad was established by Knoxville contractor William J. Oliver, and was originally named the Knoxville, Sevierville and Eastern Railway. It was incorporated on July 15, 1907 with a capital stock of $500,000. Construction began in earnest in 1908 and a major portion of the road was opened between Vestal in South Knoxville and Sevierville on December 20, 1909, bringing the line's total length to 27.8 miles. The line connected with the Southern Railway at Knoxville.
The railroad changed ownership numerous times over years, as the line was never particularly profitable and struggled to stay afloat with as few as 300 carloads of freight being shipped out of Sevierville annually.
World War II brought about the only notable period of profitability for the railroad, as the Tennessee Valley Authority initiated construction of Douglas Dam on the French Broad River a few miles north of Sevierville. A branch line was constructed from Sevierville to the dam site, and the Smoky Mountain Railroad hauled in most of the equipment and materials needed to construct the dam.
Once the dam was complete the railroad once again began to struggle, and by 1946 the line was losing money. The stockholders of the railroad applied for abandonment in 1947, but the Interstate Commerce Commission denied the request. The railroad continued to operate until 1962 when the ICC finally approved a request for abandonment.
Several of the Smoky Mountain Railroad's former locomotives are still in existence. In 1961 steam locomotives #107, a 2-8-0; and #206, a 2-6-0; were sold to "Rebel Railroad", a narrow gauge tourist train line built at nearby Pigeon Forge for static display. Rebel Railroad changed ownership over the years and is today part of the Dollywood theme park. #107 is still displayed at the entrance to Dollywood, however #206 was sold to the "Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel" in Chattanooga, Tennessee in the early 1970s.