Fatherland-Shelby Street Railroad Line

The railway line that serviced Nashville

In 1871, the Nashville and Edgefield Street Railroad Company began construction on a street railroad for the city. The street railroad had lines on Fatherland Street, Woodland Street, and Main Street and was completed the following year. The first car ran on January 23, 1871. These street railroads allowed the people of Edgefield to go to and from downtown Nashville with more ease than ever before and was praised by many. The Tennessean went so far as to say, “Nothing that has ever started in Edgefield has done so much to develop the town as this road, which is a great public benefit.”

In May 1872, the first railcar crossed the Cumberland River on a suspension bridge that also serviced the Fatherland-Shelby line. One car left the terminus every fifteen minutes with a fare of five cents. Street railroads such as these contributed to the nation-wide trend of urban dwellers relocating to less-dense suburbs. The Nashville and Edgefield Street Railroad Company allowed other street railroad companies to use their lines. For five dollars per car per month, any other railroad company could run their cars across Nashville and Edgefield Street Railroad Company lines as long as they did not interfere with the regularly scheduled cars of the Nashville and Edgefield Street Railroad Company. In the time of street railroads, steam ferries, and cable cars, suburbs popped up outside of major cities all across the world, including New York, Chicago, and London. Edgefield grew up in this age of commuter suburbs.