Letter: Vestal's Train Lines

I was very pleased with your May 10, 2012 issue and coverage of Vestal history. ["Local Color" photo story by Shawn Poynter, text by Jack Neely]

The points made as to Smoky Mountain Railway are important as SMR used the (still existing and operational) Southern Railway bridge over the Tennessee River to access Knoxville. The railroad through Vestal took two turns: One, the SMR turned eastward and meandered through the area and toward Chapman Highway. Never reaching sustained profitability, it was important moving resources such as lumber and leather from the mountain area before GSNP was established. The line was abandoned in stages and ceased operation circa 1962. Remnants of the line are visible in some parts of Vestal. The second turn is that Southern Railway's line (still in use today but operated by Norfolk Southern Railroad) turned southwest toward Alcoa and Maryville. This line was important in that it served World War II aluminum needs as well as was instrumental in Alcoa's dam construction projects in the early 20th century.

Charles Jones

Knoxville