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The Brimstone & New River Railroad is a disused railroad from the Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railway (CNO&TP, Cincinnati Southern) at New River, Tennessee southeast to Lone Mountain. Chartered as the Brimstone Railroad 1 by the W.M. Ritter Lumber company of Virginia,2 the logging line followed Brimstone Creek and featured lightweight, unballasted track. The line came to fruition after Ritter purchased the New River Lumber Company. The railroad featured a branch within nearly every hollow, with tracks that ascended the mountains via switchbacks.

The Brimstone, from Slick Rock north, was paralleled by the earlier Knoxville and New River Railroad (K&NR).2 The line operated three shay locomotives.

Knoxville and New River Railroad

The K&NR was chartered by the state on May 14, 1883, and was proposed between Robbins at the CNO&TP near Brickyard Hollow and the divide of the New River and Brimstone Creek near Lone Mountain.2 The 13-mile timber narrow-gauge railroad was planned to extend south of the Windrock Mountains and into Anderson County, where it would have connected to the Knoxville & Ohio.

The initial alignment, which became operational in 1885, diverged south from Robbins via Butchers Creek, where it terminated at Sawdust Hollow and Black Wolf Creek.2 An extension was later completed to Indian Fork Creek and then to Mill Creek, where it terminated at Slick Rock.

The K&NR was abandoned on March 3, 1893 when the timber reserves were depleted and financial woes forced the railroad to default.2

Brimstone Railroad

The primary uses for the Brimstone line was to assist in the extraction of timber and coal. There were two coal mines at Hughett and Lone Mountain.2 Timber were taken to the W.M. Ritter Mill, located at the railhead at New River, until it burned, when they were delivered to a mill in Verdun.

On July 10, 1963, a new New River crossing was completed approximately one mile north of the community of New River, and several miles of the CNO&TP was abandoned.(3a) The tracks from Helenwood to New River were kept to allow access by the Brimstone Railroad.2

In 1965, the railroad was reorganized as the Brimstone & New River Railroad,1 and again as the New River Railway just one year later when the W.M. Ritter Company merged with the Georgia Pacific.2

Traffic on the line became scarce during the latter-half of the 20th century because coal within Scott County had less-desirable high sulfur coal.2 In addition, the reliable shay locomotives were delcared to be unsafe for operation due to flanges that were worn to the point of needed replacement. With no new parts available, the shays were sold.

The Brimstone shays were purchased by the Southern and warehoused at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.2 They were later sold; one is in use by the Cass Railroad (#10) in West Virginia.

In 1970, the line was purchased by the CNO&TP, with trackage rights by the Southern, which later became part of Norfolk Southern.2 The rail line was used for another ten years until its eventual disuse. Today, the railroad is abandoned with no active coal mines along the route.

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