Sequoyah Council, Boy Scouts of America
History of the Tweetsie
The original ET&WNC Railroad was a broad gauge railroad of 5 feet (60 inches) as specified by the State of Tennessee. Work was begun in Johnson City by the railroad's president Eliiah Simerly in 1868. By 1870, with some funding from the State of Tennessee, rails had been laid 5 miles east towards Elizabethton and 15 miles of roadbed had been graded. By 1872 little more progress had been made on track construction, and the railroad had defaulted on loan payments to the State and was sold.
ln 1875 Ario Pardee and a group of Pennsylvania industrialists bought the iron ore mine at Cranberry, NC as the Cranberry lron & Coal Company and subsequently acquired the ET&WNC RR as a means of transporting the smelted ore and timber products to larger railroads in Johnson City.
ln April 1881, work on a narrow gauge (3 ft.) railroad began and by August of the same year it opened to the public with one train daily back and forth between Johnson City and Hampton. ln July 1882 the line opened all the way to Cranberry, NC, a distance of 34 track miles from Johnson City, TN. Tennessee's first maior narrow gauge railroad, the ET&WNC, was now completed and served the mountain communities and its industries faithfully until its last run in October 1950. The little railroad's nickname, Tweetsie, came from the shrill sound of the whistles of its 10 wheel locomotives, a name given to it by the people who saw - and heard it - it daily from their mountain homes.