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Hiwassee History

The Hiwassee Chronicles: A Scenic Voyage on Tennessee's Famed Rail Line

The Hiwassee Chronicles: A Scenic Voyage on Tennessee's Famed Rail Line

For more information on the history of the L&N’s Atlanta Division:

  • George, Michael. Louisville & Nashville’s Atlanta Division. Collegedale, TN: The College Press, 2000
  • Buehler, Ingrid, and Linda Caldwell. The Old Line Railroad. Benton, TN: Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association and Polk County Publishing Co. Inc., 2009

The railroad over which Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum trains travel on its Hiwassee River Rail Adventures was formerly part of the Louisville and Nashville (L&N) Railroad’s Atlanta Division stretching between Etowah, TN and Marietta, Georgia.

When the line was first finished in 1890, it consisted of multiple switchbacks in the tracks in order to gain elevation while crossing the high mountains. The switchbacks proved inefficient and before long the railroad was looking for an alternative. They soon decided to loop the tracks around Bald Mountain, creating one of only three points in the United States where railroad tracks loop over themselves to gain elevation in limited space.

This loop in the tracks, completed in 1898, coupled with a double “S” curve near Jasper, Georgia gave the old line its nickname of the Hook and Eye Line. The “S” curves made up the hook and the loop made the eye.

In the first decade of the Twentieth Century, the L&N obtained a new, more efficient, right of way that passed to the west of the Hook and Eye. With the completion of the new line, the Hook and Eye became the old line. Traffic continued to move on the old line due to the mining operations in Copperhill, TN, but when that business ceased in 2001, the railroad (now CSX Transportation) abandoned that portion of the tracks. In 2002, the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association, a non-profit organization, purchased the tracks for preservation and the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum became the sole operator of historic passenger trains on the old Hook and Eye Line.

Passengers enjoy views of the Hiwassee River immediately alongside the train for much of the trip as well as waterfalls, wildlife, mountains and the ruins of historic settlements.


Hiwassee River Railroad Map

Scenic Train Rides Along the Hiwassee River Gorge

Embark on the Hiwassee River Rail Adventure Today

Map shows the Hiwassee River Railroad routes from Etowah, TN, with a short loop and a day-long ride to Copperhill, including a layover for lunch.

Hiwassee River Gorge

For information on the Hiwassee River Gorge, contact the Tennessee Overhill Association at: