Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway aka NC&StL, NC&Stl.L, ncstl,  




Bon Air, TN

The first steel rails snaked through the steep hills east of Nashville in search of coal and timber.  Capitalists had been talking about the potential wealth lying undevelopeed under the Cumberland Plateau since the Civil War.  The exploitation of the eastern part of the region began in the postwar period.  But development of the western plateau, which ran through Cumberland, Fentress, Putnam and White Counties in the Upper Cumberland, awaited rail access.  The one major exception was the Bon Air coal field in White County, developed in the 1880s by George Dibrell of Sparta, a well-connected Democratic power broker and former Confederate general.


To reach Bon Air the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway extended a spur line into White County.  The economic effects of this one rail line foreshadowed what rail connections would do for the region as a whole.  Between 1888 and 1904 coal companies built four towns on Bon Air Mountain.  Bon Air Coal itself employed 600 men, including many county natives, who mined under the supervision of immigrant Scots.  The spur line also accelerated the exploitation of the county's timber.  By 1899 the county had twenty sawmills, an axe handle factory, and a spoke factory.  Between June 1898 and June 1899 the county shipped by rail over 1,000 cars of wood industry products.

Source:  "Country People in the New South:  Tennessee's Upper Cumberland (Studies in Rural Culture)" , by Jeanette Keith, page 78

Coal Mining Historical Fair, usually held in May. 
For information, please call the BonDeCroft Elementary School at 931-935-2359.


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As a non-profit entity, NCPS presents these pages to the public purely for educational and historic interest.

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