Published October 14, 2019.
The state of Tennessee chartered the Memphis, Clarksville & Louisville Railroad in 1852. The line ran from Paris, Tennessee, to the Tennessee-Kentucky state line and connected with two other routes to create a seamless link between Memphis, Tennessee, and Louisville, Kentucky. The line is a microcosm of the railroad story of the mid-19th century. It shortened the time it took to travel between major economic cities, but its ability to make money didn’t match its founders’ aspirations. Its detractors ridiculed the route as “beginning in the woods and ending in a hollow tree.” Following the Civil War, the railroad revitalized the line only to run out of money and largely fade into the annals of history — until now.