The story of a forgotten America.

Brimstone & New River Railroad

The Brimstone & New River Railroad is an out-of-service railroad between the Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Railway (CNO&TP) at New River southeast to Lone Mountain in Tennessee.

The Brimstone Railroad 1 was chartered by the W.M. Ritter Lumber company of Virginia, 2 and followed Brimstone Creek in northern Tennessee. As typical for a logging route, each hollow featured a railroad branch, and switchbacks were used to ascend steep grades via three shay locomotives. A portion of the Brimstone was paralleled by the earlier Knoxville & New River Railroad (K&NR). 2

The K&NR was chartered on May 14, 1883, with the intent of connecting Robbins at the CNO&TP and the divide of the New River and Brimstone Creek near Lone Mountain, with a potential extension south of the Windrock Mountains to the Knoxville & Ohio Railroad. 2 The proposed 13-mile narrow-gauge was completed in 1885 between Robbins and Sawdust Hollow and eventually extended to Slick Rock. The K&NR was abandoned on March 3, 1893.

The Brimstone Railroad primarily hauled timber and coal, with two underground coal mines located at Hughett and Lone Mountain. 2 Timber was taken to the W.M. Ritter Mill at New River and later to a mill in Verdun.

The CNO&TP completed a new high-level bridge over the New River near Robbins, and several miles of the CNO&TP was abandoned. 3a A portion was left intact to allow access by the Brimstone. 2

The railroad was reorganized as the Brimstone & New River Railroad in 1965, 1 and as the New River Railway in 1966 after the W.M. Ritter Company was acquired by Georgia Pacific Corporation. 2 The line was purchased by the CNO&TP in 1970.

Traffic along the New River Railway became increasingly scarce because the high-sulfur coal found in the region had become less desirable and the last active coal mine along the route closed in 1980. 2 Most of the New River has since been dismantled.



  1. “Scott County’s History.” Scott County. 22 Apr. 2010 Article.
  2. Storey, G. Allen. “The Railroads in Scott County.” FNB Chronicle 14.4 (Summer 2003): n. pag. Web. 22 Apr. 2010. Article.
  3. “August 1963 Ties.” Southern Railfan. Southern Railway System Magazine, Aug. 1963. Web. 22 Apr. 2010. Article.
    3a. “Helenwood to Robbins, Tenn.” Article.

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