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Picturing the Past 74: Back to the railroad

Posted Tuesday, August 17, 2010, at 2:10 PM

The train engine well remembered by older Bedford County residents as "Teton" approaches a depot in the late 1940s or early 1950s. The train ran between Wartrace and Shelbyville. (Photo by Ernest B. Robertson Jr., contributed by Bill Odle)
Several readers last month mentioned Teton or Old Teton, the Wartrace-Shelbyville spur line train which ran until the late 1950s.


These photos of Teton from the late 1940s or early 1950s were shot by Ernest Robertson, the T-G's editor from 1951-54, who was from the Wartrace area and now lives in Knoxville after a long career with the University of Tennessee's photographic and video services division. The photos were provided by Bill Odle of Wartrace, who says they were made around Wartrace and Shelbyville.


And here's the Shelbyville depot as passengers from Wartrace got off the train. The depot building outlasted the railroad: It's now restored and used as an adult learning center, surrounded by grassy landscaping and no railroad tracks around it at all.

The photo was shot looking south from just off Depot Steet. Look in the background and you'll see a large building with the words "Pencil Company" visible.

It looks like the letters "AL" are invisible in fron of 'Pencil.' Was that National Pencil Company?


From March 8, 1958, this is what's described by contributor Trey Arnold as "Tetter's last run." Is this Teton's last run? Shown are Allen and "Daddy" Bomar by the caboose.

NOW IN PRINT: Several readers have asked for Picturing the Past to become part of the Times-Gazette's print edition. Two or more of the photos you see here will be in tomorrow's newspaper. Look for Picturing the Past in ink and paper each Wednesday.

And the Picturing the Past blog will be right here as always each Tuesday with lots of photos to come and plenty of room for your comments.

Picturing the Past is featured each Tuesday in this blog and each Wednesday in the Times-Gazette's print edition. Reader submissions are welcome.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Thanks David for four more great pictures. Yes, that is the National Pencil Company in the background. That is where my Mother worked during WWII when my Daddy was in the Navy during the war.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Aug 17, 2010, at 3:36 PM

David, In the third picture down where passengers are unloading at the Shelbyville Depot it looks to me as if the engine is pointed toward Wartrace. I can never remember seeing the engine pointed toward Wartrace. I just wondered what the memories of our other bloggers are.

Thanks for the pictures in today's paper. Hopefully that will stir some more interest in what you are doing here.

-- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Aug 18, 2010, at 4:41 PM

I recall as a younster using the train yard as a shortcut from Belmont Ave to Elliott Street when we walked home from town. And yes,that is the old National Pencil Co.

-- Posted by LarLMoore on Wed, Aug 18, 2010, at 4:43 PM

leeiii: I've been told by a friend in Wartrace (who should know) that although Old Teton usually faced toward Shelbyville on its Wartrace to Shelbyville trek and then "backed up" on the return trip to Wartrace, from time to time the direction would be switched. Since there was no roundhouse at either end, I suppose they did it by using a wye switch, aka triangular junction, to change direction from time to time, but it was not a daily maneuver.

-- Posted by marnold1118 on Thu, Aug 19, 2010, at 9:09 AM

In your article of July 27th there is a picture of a steam engine with the number 365 on the cab. Several of your readers stated this could not be "Old Teton" for various reasons. However, your article of Aug.18th identifies the engine as "Old Teton" it also bears the number 365. What gives?

-- Posted by eyeavol on Thu, Aug 19, 2010, at 9:57 AM

Thanks marnold1118, I had never heard of a wye switch or triangular junction. Do you happen to remember where there was one? Also, do you ever remember there being passenger service into Bell Buckle?

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Aug 19, 2010, at 12:59 PM

David - Please write about the Old Rock Jail....What is the condition of it now?

-- Posted by Clari on Sat, Aug 21, 2010, at 8:54 AM

Very beautiful dark blue and cream diesel locomotives of the L & N Railroad plowed up and down the tracks alongside East Lane Street in Shelbyville when I was a child in the early 1960's. The F-3 diesels in dark blue and cream were especially a thrilling sight and pics of them would be tremendous.

-- Posted by zzoop on Sat, Aug 21, 2010, at 9:25 AM

zzoop, I am glad that you mentioned the diesel locomotives. I remember very well when the Steam Engine was replaced by the Blue and Cream Diesel Locomotive. You could not tell if it was coming or going until you got used to seeing it.

-- Posted by leeiii on Sat, Aug 21, 2010, at 11:23 AM

Please let me correct myself. When the spur line first changed from steam to diesel I can not remember the color of the engine. There are about three different color combinations rolling around in my mind. Red and Yellow, Blue and Yellow, and Blue and Cream. To be honest I can not remember which.

-- Posted by leeiii on Sat, Aug 21, 2010, at 2:27 PM

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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.