Sunday, July 6, 2014

Turnpikes and bridges in Davidson County, Tennessee

An excerpt from History of Nashville Tennessee, H. W. Crew, (1890), relating to the creation of turnpike companies and the building of roadways and bridges through Davidson County. 


The Franklin Turnpike Company was incorporated by the Legislature December 31, 1829. This was the first company of the kind chartered whose road was to enter Nashville. The Commissioners appointed by the act were: Randal McGavock, John Watson, James Swanson, Laurence Bryan, Joseph Wood, Robert B. Currey, H. R. W. Hill, Robert Weakley, William Hadley, Christopher E. McEwen, John C. McLemore, and Philip Pipkin. These Commissioners were authorized to receive subscriptions to the amount of $75,000, which sum was to be divided into shares of $25 each. When $5,000 should have been subscribed a meeting of the stockholders was to be held, and the subscribers from and after the first meeting were to be the incorporators. Those at the first meeting were to elect seven Directors, who were to elect a President and other officers, and to have power to receive subscriptions to the extent of the remainder of the $75,000, to make contracts for any part of the work along the route mapped out by the Commissioners, and to call in payments on the stock, until all should be paid, in sums of $5 at a time on each share. The road was to be begun and completed within seven years; and there were to be two toll-gates, one within two miles of Nashville or Franklin, and the other within five miles of the first gate.

This act was amended December 13, 1831, so as to authorize the erection of four toll-gates, the one nearest to Nashville to be at the turn of the road near Joseph W. Horton's house, about one and one-fourth miles from Broad Street; that nearest Franklin to be at least two miles from that place; and the other two to be located by Major Thomas Edmondson, the Superintendent of the road. The same act increased the capital stock to $90,000, and required nine Directors to be elected* instead of seven. The road was completed to Franklin at a cost of about $75,000.

The White's Creek Turnpike Company was chartered May 5, 1830. John Wright, John Shelby, Andrew Hynes, Alexander Porter, Thomas Crutcher, William L. Brown, Francis Porterfield, John H. Porter, and William Seal were appointed Commissioners to receive the subscriptions to the capital stock, which was authorized to be $28,000. Of this amount the Nashville Bridge Company subscribed $10,000, and James Erwin $3,000. The road cost $31,000. Mr. C. W. Nance superintended its construction, and completed it in 1844. On August 18, 1860, the stockholders having become alarmed for the prospect of their road, on account of the building of the Evansville branch of the Louisville and Nashville railroad, and having on this account secured an act of the Legislature enabling them to do so, sold the road to C. W. Nance and E. H. Childress. The war coming on, Mr. Childress became desirous of disposing of his interest, and sold out to Mr. Nance, who has owned the road ever since.

The Gallatin Turnpike Company was incorporated January 5, 1830. The stock was subscribed and officers were elected in 1836. The original capital was $135,000, but it was afterward increased to $265,000, and it is now $261,000. The first officers were: Robert Weakley, President; and William Edwards, Secretary. The first toll-gate was opened in January, 1839, located just east of Nashville, and the road to Gallatin was opened to the public at about the same time. Toll-gates were fixed February 1, 1839, and the road was soon afterward completed to the Kentucky line near Scottsville. Besides the one toll-gate already mentioned, there were three gates above Gallatin. Some time after the road was finished the part between a point fourteen miles above Gallatin and the Kentucky line was abandoned, so that now there is kept up only fifty miles of the road. The cost of the entire road was $270,000. The officers of this company at the present time are: H. Vaughn, President; and A. G. Adams, Secretary and dispenser of dividends.

Connected with the Gallatin pike is the Vaughn pike, commencing about two miles from Nashville and running east about two miles to the residence of Hiram and Michael Vaughn, the road having been built by them in 1850. This is a free turnpike.

The Porter pike also connects with the Gallatin pike, commencing one and one-quarter miles from Gallatin, and running a little to the north of east a distance of one and one-half miles. This also is a free turnpike.

The Nashville, Murfreesboro, and Shelbyville Turnpike Company was incorporated in 1831. Books for subscription to the stock of the company were opened January 16,1832, in Nashville, under the superintendence of William Carroll, Robert Woods, Francis Porterfield, H. R. W. Hill, William Nichol, George Shawl, James Barrett, Moses Norvell, and Harry L. Douglass. The first officers of the company were: R. C. Foster, President; and Russell Dance, Secretary. The original capital stock was $200,000. After the stock held in the company by the State was purchased by the company, the capital was reduced to $103,000. It is now $85,000. The road was completed to Shelbyville, a distance of fifty-six miles from Nashville, in 1838, at a cost of at least $250,000. The present officers of the company are: A. G. Adams, President; W. Y. Elliott, Secretary and Treasurer; and J. W. Ewing, Superintendent.

The Richland Turnpike Company was incorporated January 30, 1844. The road runs in a south-westerly direction fifteen miles into the valley of South Harpeth, terminates at Providence Baptist Church, and is popularly known as the Hardin pike. It was largely constructed by General W. G. Harding, Major David Graham, Abraham Demoss, and Frank McGavock. The road cost about $35,000, and the capital of the company is now $34,400. J. M. Thompson is President of this company, and General W. H. Jackson is Secretary and Treasurer.

The Nashville and Charlotte Turnpike Company was chartered somewhere between 1835 and 1840, for the purpose of constructing a turnpike from Nashville toward Charlotte. The road as constructed is ten miles long, and cost about $60,000. It was a very important road previous to the building of the railroads, and it was no uncommon thing to see twenty teams at a time traveling on this pike, as it was the main road leading to Memphis. Since the railroads have come in this pike has become a mere local road. In 1880 it was purchased very cheaply by A. L. Demoss. It was sold by him in 1887 to Dr. H. M. Pierce, who afterward turned it over to the West Nashville Land Company, its present proprietors.

The Nolensville Turnpike Company was incorporated about 1837, with a capital of $100,000, half taken by the State, the other half being subscribed by individuals. The first officers were: Hays Blackman, President; and Benjamin King, Secretary. The road was completed about 1841, and extends three miles beyond Triune, in Williamson County, a total distance of twenty-six miles from Nashville. The cost of its construction was $110,000. The present capital of the company is $97,000. The officers are: Hiram Vaughn, President; W. C. Blackman, Secretary; and James K. Rains, Superintendent.

The Mill Creek Valley Turnpike Company was incorporated January 21, 1846. Its road is a branch of the Nolensville turnpike, running from a point on this pike about five miles from Nashville eastward to Antioch Church, a distance of about twelve miles.

The Lebanon turnpike extends from Nashville to Lebanon, a distance of thirty miles. The company was incorporated February 12, 1836. The first officers were: Dr. Haggard, President; and A. V. S. Lindsley, Secretary and Treasurer. The cost of the road was $240,000. The present officers are: H. Vaughn, President, Treasurer, and Superintendent; and A. G. Adams, Secretary and dispenser of dividends.

Stewart's Ferry turnpike commences at a point on the Lebanon pike nearly seven miles from Nashville, and runs in a south-east direction to Stone's River, a distance of about two miles.

The Louisville and Nashville Branch Turnpike Company was incorporated January 1, 1846. The stockholders were made the incorporators, and the commissioners to receive subscriptions to the capital stock were: A. W. Putnam, Josiah F. Williams, James A. Porter, Joseph L. Ewing, and Charles W. Moorman. The road runs from a point on the White's Creek pike about one and one-half miles from Nashville to Mansker's Lick (now Goodlettsville), a distance of eleven miles from the starting point. Claiborne Hooper and William D. Phillips each subscribed $4,000, and the entire capital was $16,000, the road costing that sum. It was surveyed and laid out by C. W. Nance, and was completed in 1852 or 1853. The present officers are: W. Connell, President; and Thomas M. Hart, Secretary and Treasurer.

The Nashville and Hillsboro Turnpike Company was incorporated February 3, 1848, with succession, as in most of the other turnpike companies, for ninety-nine years. The capital stock was fixed at $100,000, to be increased if necessary, the funds to be applied to the construction of a macadamized road from Nashville to the foot of Duck River Ridge, near Hillsboro, in Williamson County, a distance of about twenty-eight miles. Of this road there was constructed before the war that portion leading from Nashville to a point in Williamson County called the Perkins Lane. From Perkins Lane to Duck River Ridge, a distance of eight miles, work had been done at different points along the route, and detached portions had been completed, about one-half the route between these two points having been completed in this way. During the war the road was used by the Federal army for all purposes and worn out to a great extent, and among its other misfortunes the bridge across Big Harpeth River was destroyed. At the conclusion of the war the company commenced the repair of the road, remetaling it and rebuilding the bridge. This all took time, and so the completion of that part between Perkins Lane and Duck River Ridge was delayed, but not lost sight of, and in 1873 an engineer was employed to survey the route. About the time of the submission of his report the new bridge across Big Harpeth River was washed away by a flood, which imposed heavy expenditure upon the company, and which again delayed the completion of that portion between Hillsboro and Duck River Ridge. The company became involved in litigation on accounts, which finally resulted in the purchase of the entire road by Thomas J. O'Keefe for $7,785.72. On September 4, 1883, Mr. O'Keefe conveyed the property to Samuel Perkins, Samuel Claybrooke, and J. C. Bradford; and on the 10th of the same month these gentlemen organized themselves into a corporation, under the name of the Nashville and Duck River Ridge Turnpike Company, and became invested with the property and all the powers and franchises of the old Nashville and Hillsboro Turnpike Company.

In the meantime the Hillsboro and Franklin Turnpike Company, chartered in 1875, had taken possession of that part of the road-bed of the old Nashville and Hillsboro Turnpike Company commencing at the G. W. Mayberry place and running to the foot of the Duck River Ridge. After several legal contests over the ownership of this portion of the road, the courts finally decided in favor of the Hillsboro and Franklin Turnpike Company, thus depriving the Nashville and Duck River Ridge Turnpike Company of that portion of its road-bed running from Hillsboro to
Duck River Ridge, a distance of about three miles. The latter company therefore now owns only the road from Nashville to Hillsboro, a distance of about twenty-five miles. Its officers at this time are: Samuel P. Claybrooke, President; Thomas J. O'Keefe, Secretary; J. C. Bradford, Treasurer; and B. F. Short, Superintendent.

The Franklin College and Stone's River Turnpike Company was incorporated February 3, 1848, the stockholders being made, as in most cases, the incorporators. The commissioners to receive subscriptions to the stock were: Dr. J. R. Wilson, E. H. East, Robert Buchanan, James M. Murrell, James Charlton, James Matlock, John W. Birdwell, Turner Perry, and George W. McQuiddy. The road was built in a year or two after the company was incorporated, from a point on the Nashville and Murfreesboro turnpike about four miles from Nashville to Couchville, on Stone's River, a distance of ten miles. The cost of the road was about $30,000. In 1887 it was purchased by E. H. East and associates, and the name changed to the Nashville and Statesville Turnpike Company. In 1889 E. H. East and associates sold the road to Davidson County, on the condition that said county should build a bridge across Stone's River at Couchville; and, in carrying out its part of the contract, the county of Davidson is now (April, 1890) erecting an iron bridge across Stone's River at Couchville, which when completed will have cost $15,000.

The Hyde's Ferry Turnpike Company was chartered January 25, 1848, for the purpose of constructing a turnpike from Nashville to Sycamore Mills. The first meeting of the company was held at Zion's Meetinghouse November 1, 1848, Thomas Harding, David T. McGavock, Richard Hyde, R. A. Barnes, Lewis Williams, William Drake, Edmund Hyde, O. A. Simpkins, Dennis Dozier, and Thomas W. Sehon being the commissioners to receive subscriptions to the stock. F. R. Rains, David T. McGavock, J. E. Manlove, Dennis Dozier, O. A. Simpkins, Thomas Harding, and Robert A. Barnes were the first Directors, of whom John E. Manlove was President, and Robert A. Barnes Secretary. The capital stock was fixed at $30,000, and was afterward increased to $50,000. By 1853 the road was built to the bluff below Hickman's Ferry, and year by year additions were made to its length until the completed road reached Marrowbone, sixteen miles from Nashville. The war cut off further construction, and a resolution was adopted by the Board of Directors deciding to go no farther. After the war, in 1870, work was resumed, but not until 1878 was the whole road opened up, and it was not completed until 1884. It is twenty-four miles long, and extends from Nashville to Lyceum Mills, and cost $50,000. The present Board consists of B. G. Hampton, W. P. Harding, W. R. Hyde, W. M. Pegram, G. Stritch, and E. C. Lewis. The officers are: B. G. Hampton, President; and E. C. Lewis, Secretary and Treasurer.

The Buena Vista Turnpike Company was incorporated November 5, 1849, James C. Owen, William Pybus, and Thomas J. Munford and their successors being named as incorporators. The road was to commence at or near the north end of Spruce Street, and pass to White's Creek, about three miles from Nashville, and then up White's Creek valley to a point on the White's Creek turnpike about five miles from Nashville. The road was completed in 1857 or 1858, and cost $13,000. It was then sold out to John Cato, Daniel Young, Andrew Gregory, Augustus Butler, and C. W. Nance. In i860 Mr. Nance bought out all the other stockholders, and has owned the road ever since. The ferry across the Cumberland River was always very profitable, especially during the war, until the bridge was constructed over the river in 1889, since when it has been comparatively unprofitable.

The Granny White Turnpike Company was incorporated January 25, 1850. John Nichol, Henry Compton, Dr. William Lawrence, Thomas McCrory, James Walker, Edward Bradford, and William Sawyers—or any three of them—were authorized to open books for subscription to the stock of the company. This road runs in a southerly direction to the Williamson County line; was completed in 1855, and is now owned by the county of Davidson.

The Brick Church Turnpike Company was incorporated January 25, 1850, with a capital of $5,000, and with authority to increase it to $20,000. The Commissioners appointed in this act to receive subscriptions to the stock of the company were: Daniel P. Lanier, William H. demons, W. J. Lanier, Joseph Hyde, David B. Love, Maxwell Redden, and Jefferson Waggoner. The road was to begin at a point on White's Creek turnpike on or near the line between Handy's and Talbot's tracts of land, about one and one-half miles north of Nashville, and runs nearly due north a distance of seven miles to Cloyd's Camp-ground. It was completed in 1856.

The Owen and Winstead Turnpike Company was incorporated January 30, 1859. Its road starts from a point on the Nolensville turnpike about seven miles from Nashville, and runs south-westwardly a distance of about eight miles.

The Dry Fork turnpike starts at Nolensville, seventeen and one-half miles from Nashville, and runs east toward Murfreesboro a distance of about seven miles. It was completed in 1885.
The magnificent bridge already described, which was built in 1823, was used until sometime after 1850, in which year the first suspension bridge was built across the Cumberland River at the same point where the present double bridge, described below, was constructed in 1886. The suspension bridge was planned by A. Heiman, an architect of Nashville, and the building of it was contracted for by Captain M. D. Field, brother of Cyrus Field, who superintended the laying of the first Atlantic cable. The bridge was seven hundred feet long, and it was one hundred and ten feet above low-water mark. This bridge was very unwisely destroyed by the Confederate army upon its evacuation of Nashville immediately after the fall of Fort Donelson, in February, 1862. Subsequently another suspension bridge, similar to the one thus destroyed, was erected at the same place, which continued to serve the purposes of the city until condemned and taken down in 1886.

The last bridge erected over the Cumberland River at Nashville was the substantial and elegant iron structure on Bridge Avenue, erected in 1886. The movement which resulted in its construction was inaugurated in 1884, the bill therefor being passed by the City Council on June 20 of that year. This bill provided for a bridge fifty-four feet wide, with roadways of eighteen feet each, and two sidewalks of seven feet each, which was estimated to cost $343,525, The foundation and masonry were estimated to cost $124,000; and the superstructure, $159,125. A contract was entered into between the city of Nashville and Flannery & Holmes, composed of Patrick Flannery, of Louisville, and H. F. Holmes, of Indianapolis, for the construction of the piers and abutments of this bridge, August 1, 1884. The contract price for this part of the work was $76,720. The stone for this portion of the bridge was procured from the quarry of Mr. George Washington, situated two and one-half miles from the corporation line, on the Lebanon turnpike. The coffer-dam for the construction of Pier No. 1 was settled in position on September 10; for Pier No. 2, on September 25; and for Pier No. 3, sometime later. The contract for the construction of the superstructure of the bridge was awarded on March 7, 1885, to the Louisville Bridge and Iron Company, for $90,000. It consists of four spans resting on the three piers. The plans specified that the west span should be one hundred and ten feet; No. 2, two hundred and fifteen feet; No. 3, one hundred and sixty feet; and No. 4, one hundred and fifty-four feet. Total length, six hundred and thirty-nine feet. The height of the bridge above low-water mark is ninety-three feet, so that there is no obstruction to navigation at any time. The superstructure is, of course, of iron, except the floors.

The bridge was completed and ready for the final test, April 10, 1886, on which day the test was made, and was in every respect satisfactory to the city. The Nashville Union of April 11 described this test as follows:

"The procession started promptly at two o'clock, with the steam road roller in the lead. The entire engineering force, under command of Mr. Bouscaren and the City Engineer, were stationed at regular intervals on the iron beams underneath the floor, so as to be able to detect at once the slightest inflexion of the camber. The weight placed on each of the spans cannot be accurately approximated, but there was at one time crowded on the first span the steam road roller, five fire-engines, six hose-carts, one hook and ladder truck, together with the men and horses accompanying each; also thirty two-horse wagons and fourteen carts loaded with broken stone. The estimated weight of the steam road roller is 35,000 pounds; the fire-engines and outfits, 110,000 pounds, which, with the other vehicles, would bring the total weight up to 400,000 pounds. This enormous weight was allowed to remain ten minutes upon each span, and the cavalcade proceeded to the next span, and this process was continued until every span was tested."

The American of the same day said that the total weight upon the bridge at one time was 548,750 pounds. Under this great weight the deflexion of each span was from one-third to one-half what was allowed in the specifications, and no appreciable difference could be observed after the load was removed.

The people took great interest in the test of this new structure, at least five thousand of them being present as spectators of the event, and all manifested a desire for its success.

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