6. The Railroad Was Second in the State
Today, you might at night hear a lonely train whistle as it goes through the county.
In the development of the area, the Tennessee & Alabama RR Company, which rolled its first train on its tracks at 7:30 a.m. on March 6, 1855, left a lasting mark. For instance, the town of Thompson’s Station essentially exists because of it.
The T & E was the second railroad completed in the state of Tennessee, first connecting Franklin to its first stop in Thompson’s Station, then soon connecting to Columbia, Pulaski and finally Decatur, Alabama.
John C. Claybrook, a Williamson County resident, led a group of about 30 locals in 1852 to fund the first $20,000 to build it. The city of Franklin, a little more than 50 years old, matched with its own $20,000. Land was graded from Nashville to Franklin, a depot was built, and tracks were laid, some 20 miles connecting the city with the town. The state of Tennessee pitched in, issuing bonds at $10,000 per mile.
The tracks were strategically important in the Civil War. In 1862 Federal forces seized the tracks, while Confederates managed to make the existing rolling stock disappear. After the war, the RR became the Nashville and Decatur RR.