CHRONICLE. March 2, 1904. UNIQUE ROAD. Twelve Miles Long, Made With Wooden Rails and Used For Hauling Lumber to the Tennessee Central. Thinking a description of what is known as the Griffith Tram Road of interest to our readers, we secured the following article from W. D. Holcomb, who has been thoroughly familiar with its construction from its incipiency to the present time. It is unique as there never has been such a road constructed in this county before. The further fact that it is proving a decided success makes it of especial interest.
Beginning at a point on the T. C. railroad, 7 l/2 miles east of Crossville, and keeping a northerly course for about 12 miles you will arrive at a small creek threading its way beneath the cliffs of Peavine mountain, known as Otta creek. Situated along this creek on either side at a distance of about l l/2 miles apart are three lumber mills owned and operated by the Griffith Lumber company. This company controls a vast boundary of white and yellow pine timber — 40 or 50 million feet. During the first year’s run of the mills lumber accumulated so fast, despite the fact that every available team was kept busy hauling to Dorton, that General Manager W. J. Griffith realizing the almost impossible task of getting the lumber to the railroad by such means, fell upon the very wise plan of constructing a road of wood rails upon which it was first intended to run small cars drawn by mules.
The contract was let to Joe. P. Watt of Rockwood and work was begun about the first of January, 1902. The track, as commenced then, was of oak 2 X 4 nailed down to ties split from small timber with a slat one inch thick on top to break joint. The un-workman-like manner in which it was done and a trial or two convinced the company that so far it was a failure.
Some time in April of the same year H. T. Pemberton of Clinton bought Watt out and agreed to build the road through and transfer all lumber out by the company, to the T. C. railroad. On May 12, 1902, a camp was arranged on Peavine mountain, that being the road terminus as built by Watt and supposed to be about half the distance. After investigation the whole plan of construction was changed and what track had been laid considered worthless and torn away. The road bed was changed in many places to secure a better grade and to make a track strong enough to carry a locomotive weighing fifteen tons.
The present track is of oak rails 2 inches thick, 6 inches wide, doubled and securely spiked to ties 4 l/2 feet long, 2 feet apart, 3 feet gauge.
Next week we'll learn more about the 15 Ton Locomotive and if it was successfully used to haul the lumber.