November of 1998
 All images and text (and mistakes and blunders) by Donald R.  Hensley, Jr.
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 The Smoky Mountain

Smoky Mountain 110
Smoky Mountain 110 at Knoxville, TN on April 30th, 1951
From the Collection of Donald R. Hensley, Jr.

    This meandering thirty mile standard gauge shortline ran through the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, between Vestal and Sevierville, Tennessee. This region is a rich agricultural and timber area. This railroad started out as the Knoxville, Sevierville and Eastern Railway Co. , being incorporated on July 15, 1907 with a capital stock of  $500,000. Construction began in earnest in 1909 and the first portion of the road was opened between Vestal and Sevierville (27.8 miles of 56 and 60 lb. rail) on December 20th, 1909. On January 10th, 1910 the KS&E added 2.2 miles of trackage rights on the Southern Ry.'s Marysville branch between Vestal and Knoxville for a yearly rental of  $2,172. Sidetracks in Knoxville and depot facilities were also leased from the Southern for an additional $600 per year.
    The railroad was built by the Revilo Construction Company which was owned by W. J. Oliver, the Chairman of the Board of the KS&E. Other officers of the company included C. S. McManus as president, E.G. Oates as Secretary & Treasurer.  (Click here for the KS&E's 1910 timetable from the 1911 Official Guide) The roads funded debt included $500,000 worth of gold bonds in two mortgages with a yearly interest of $28,000. A gift of $150,000  of Sevier County 20 year 5 percent bonds were received in exchange for $150,000 worth of KS&E stock. The bonds were turned over to the construction company as payment.
    An affiliated line called the Pigeon River RR (incorporated August, 1916) was to build a line from Sevierville to Pigeon Forge, then on to Gatlinburg and the North Carolina line, which would have been on the crest line of the Great Smoky Mountains. Only a small portion of this line was built. (Click here for a map of all the railroads in the area)
    By end of 1919 the railroad owned 4 steam locomotives, 3 passenger cars, 1 combination passenger and baggage car, 6 flat cars, 13 box cars, 1 coal car, 1 stock car and 1 caboose. Operations  for 1919 included 16,810  of freight train miles and 40,330  of mixed service miles.  A total of 54,868 passengers were carried along with 48,317 tons of freight. While the net earning of the road was modest ( $5,142 for 1919 ), the funded debt was killing the road. The three years average deficit from 1917-1919 was $31,000. Fortunately they had a large surplus from earlier years profits to absorb these deficits, but the handwriting was on the wall, this couldn't last for very much longer as we shall see!
    Foreclosed in July of 1921 by the bank, the KS&E was purchased by L.C. Gunter for $50,000 on November 1st, 1921 at the foreclosure sale. Reorganized as the Knoxville and Carolina RR. on November 4th, 1921 and authorized by the ICC to issue new stock and bonds in 1922. This reorganization would reduce the yearly interest charges from $28,000 to $7,920! With this new money the railroad began rehabilitating its road and equipment. By 1923 new bonds were issued to help pay for these improvements. Things were looking up in 1923, passenger revenue was $43,296 and freight revenue was at $81,626. Net earning were $26,358 with a small surplus after fixed charges (rent and interest) of $1,795. Equipment for 1925 included 2 steam locomotives, 1 gasoline rail car, 2 passenger cars, 2 combination cars, 4 box cars, 2 flat cars, 1 stock car and 1 caboose. Then further progress came to the area in three forms: improved roads, the automobile and the truck. By 1925 passenger revenue was down to $10,568 while freight was down to $55,000.  The red ink for that year was  $20,888. Times were a changing.
    May 1st, 1926 the railroad was sold at auction to T. Asbury Wright, Jr. for $50,000 for the bond holders. The bondholders however attempted to sale the road for junk, but Seiver County (owners of KS&E stock) was able to convince the local court to delay the sale. A new company was formed, The Smoky Mountain Railroad Co. in August of 1926. Then an appeal to save the road was made by the local people to the Tennessee and North Carolina Railway Co. The T&NC appeared at the sale on October 18, 1926 and bought the property for $75,000. The Smoky Mountain RR charter was given to the new owners ($75,000 stock) and the old KS&E was operated by T&NC (under a $6,000 a year lease) along with two other separate  branches. The first ran from Newport, TN to Crestmont, NC, and the second ran from Andrews, NC to Haysville, NC.  Newport was 24 miles northeast of Sevierville and lcl shipments were handled between those two towns using motor trucks on the local roads. To help the new railroad out, taxes were waived for 5 years, and businesses pledge to use the SMRR instead of trucks.
    Seiver County at this time consisted of 587 square miles and a population of 25,000 with only the SMRR serving it. The principal traffic is lumber shipped from the mountanous sections east and south of Sevierville, a town of 776 persons. The territory crossed by the railroad is hilly and fertile, farms produce wheat, corn hay and livestock. Part of this area is underlayed by marble. Of the entire area, 75 percent is in timber, 15 percent is cultivated and 10 percent in pasture. Manufacturing includes a cannery, a textile plant, a flour mill and a small chair factory. Inbound coal is estimated at 300 carloads a year. The output of factories is said to range from 125 to 150 cars per year. ( Click here for a look at the 1927 timetable from that years Official Guide.)

Smoky Mountain 206
Smoky Mountain 206 at Knoxville, TN on August 8, 1948
From the Collection of Donald R. Hensley, Jr.
     Now back to the Pigeon River RR, while only a small portion was build, this railroad was still operating in 1930 with a separate owner whom leased it to the SMRR. Located on the east bank of the Pigeon River in Sevierville this road operated 1.17 miles of track and served nine industries with 269 cars being handled  in which a switching charge of $6 per car is charged to the SMRR  as per the lease. The SMRR connected with this road on the west bank of the river. The SMRR acquired this trackage in 1930 and leased it to the T&NC.
    Because of the joint operations of the T&NC its hard to tell how the SMRR property was performing. The T&NC was operating with a profit in 1928 ($47,422) , 1929 ($27,855) and 1930 ($40,865). By 1930 only 1 locomotive was owned as well as 2 passenger cars, 2 box cars and a gas motor car. Then the times turned bad. Losses were registered in 1932 (-$30,951) and 1933(-$9,029) with only a small profit of  $1,420 in 1934. (Click here for the 1935 timetable from 1936's Official Guide)

    At the end of 1937, the T&NC sold their Smoky Mountain RR stock to the Midwest Steel Co. of Charleston, WV, a company that deals in scrap iron. These so called new owners shortly concluded that the terms of the lease were not being complied with by the T&NC, they then terminated the lease effected on March 6, 1938. But as these new owners did not want to operate the line themselves, a new amended lease was made with the T&NC for temporary operations pending a determination to its future. On April 11, 1938, the Smoky Mountain RR (by its new owners) applied for abandonment of its entire line with the new owners doing the honors of scrapping the line.
    From these 1938 ICC abandonment proceedings we learn a little more about the Smoky Mountain. Beginning at Vestal the railroad serves 14 small non agency stations, ranging in population from 2 to 30 each. Sevierville population was now at 882.

Traffic Table

type 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 First 
3 months 
of 1938
carloads freight in cars 585 1560 658 661 654 135
less than car load freight in tons 581 731 629 548 556 138
automobiles and trucks in car loads 10 26
canned goods 19 19
cement 46 75
coal 48 34
explosives 11 56
fertilizer 23 21
lumber 52 19
gasoline  93       182      
sand stone & gravel  167     83  
empty tin cans 10 29
    An engineer of the Southern Ry. Co. inspected the line for the ICC. He reported that there was considerable deferred maintenance and it would cost between $44,100 and $49,600 to place the line in good condition. He also testified that the road could be operated in its present condition. Protestants of the abandonment contend that the line has operated profitably in the past and can be made to do so in the future.
    Also reported was the construction of a new highway near Gatlinburg (the gateway to the Great Smoky National Park) will bring in about 60 car loads of cement and 190 cars of sand in 1938. This road will be extended all the way to Sevierville (15 miles) within two years bringing in additional carloads (approx. 400 cars of cement and 1,000 cars of sand!)
    The main source of income in Sevierville was the Stokely Brothers & Co. which operates a vegetable canning factory in Sevierville, producing 125,000 cases of can goods annually and employing 200 people from May to October. Outbound shipment consists of canned goods, while in bound consists of empty tin cans (from Baltimore, MD), fertilizer, shipping containers and coal. In all 46 carloads were received and 19 were forwarded by this plant. There are also three bulk oil stations in town which furnished the most constant revenue for the railroad in the later years with inbound shipments of gasoline and heating oil.
    The ICC denied the abandonment of the Smoky Mountain RR, but allowed the T&NC to cease operations over the line. This left the Midwest Steel Co. as the sole operator of the line much to their dismay. They then tried to raise money by applying for a RFC loan from the US Government, but the ICC denied their application. (Click here for the 1942 Timetable from that years Official Guide)

Smoky Mountain 110
Smoky Mountain # 110 at Knoxville, TN on July 6, 1952
From the Collection of Donald R. Hensley, Jr.

    The building of the Douglass Dam on the Little Pigeon River provide much needed revenue and a long spur was built to handle the traffic. World War II's gasoline rations brought about increases in its train ridership. By 1946 the line was once again losing money. In January of 1947 a washout from a clogged culvert and the scrap company owners jumped at the opportunity to force abandonment. Claiming it would cost thousands of dollars to repair (the wash out only covered 2 rail lengths) and no money in the till, they applied for abandonment which was denied. Then the owners applied for bankruptcy protection in March, but had to repair the line in the meanwhile. The ICC approved a loan for $10,000 and four of their customers came up with $3,750 and the line was back in operation by summer. In April of 1948 General Frank Maloney was named trustee by the Federal Court. But the scrap owners still were pressing for abandonment saying that the line was in too bad of shape to operate. This was disputed by Maloney.
Smoky Mountain 444
Smoky Mountain # 440 at Knoxville, TN on September, 27, 1957
From the Collection of Donald R. Hensley, Jr.
    The shippers, who had came up with the money for fixing the washout, decided they have heard enough, took action by forcing receivership through the local court, naming John B. Waters as receiver. This started a little tug and war match with the federal court that ended with the county court in charge.  By 1951 (John Temple, reciever) passenger traffic was dropped, leaving only freight and express for the little road to carry. By 1958 receivership had ended with B.M. Angeli (Indianapolis, IN) as president of the SMRR. In February of 1962 the president was John B. Waters of the Sevierville Bank. Abandonment soon followed though scrapping did not occur until 1964.

Smoky Mountain 206
Smoky Mountain 206 at Sevierville, TN
From the Collection of Donald R. Hensley, Jr.

(Thanks to Robert W. Brendel)
Knoxville, Sevierville & Eastern 1909-1921
Knoxville & Carolina 1921-1926

NUMBER         TYPE                BUILDER        C/N                    DATE            HISTORY
20 4-6-0 Baldwin
34 4-4-0 Baldwin 6941 9/83 ex Cin.Southern # 81,  re CNO&TP # 581, re # 545, re Southern # 6401, to Eagle Coal # 31 6/17, to SI&E # 1190, to KS&E #34 9/14/18 
35 2-6-0 Baldwin 14407 8/95 Mobile & Birm. # 14, re Southern # 3001, to KS&E 4/15
36 4-6-0 Baldwin 15502 9/97 Mobile & Birm. # 16, re # Southern #s 704, 657, 1378, to KS&E 1915

102 2-6-2 Lima 1327 12/13 Tenn. & NC # 5, re# 102, to SM # 102 
scrapped c1943
107 2-8-0 Baldwin 8869 11/87 ETV&G # 419, re # Southern # 107, to SM # 107 on 5/16/1942. 
To grover Robbins, Jr. and on display at Pigeon Forge, TN
110 4-6-2 Baldwin 37303 11/11 Little River # 110, to SM # 110 in 1942. 
To Terry Bloom, Brooksville, OH 5/1972
206 4-6-2 Baldwin 34964 7/10 Genesse & Wyoming # 9, to SI&E # 1498 in 1918, to Brooklyn Cooperage # 16 11/19, to BR&L 8/29 to SM # 206 
To Grover Robbins, Jr., on display at Pigeon Forge, TN
440 44 tonner GE

Smoky Mountain by William H. Schmidt, Jr. Trains, December of 1949
ICC reports
Official Guides and Equipment Registers
Roster by Robert W. Brendel
Photos collection of Don Hensley
Many thanks to Russell Tedder for supplying new additional research material for which this much expanded history relied much upon.
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