Nashville Interurban Railway – Public Square
It was no small wonder that investors were forced to turn to a New York bank for financing of the Franklin Interurban Railroad: Franklin merchants feared shoppers would head to Nashville to spend their money. Nashville real estate agents feared the scenic Williamson County suburbs would lure developers and homebuyers. Tollgate collectors on Franklin Pike feared for their livelihood. The Louisville & Nashville Railroad feared the competition. Owners of sprawling estates in southern Davidson and northern Williamson Counties feared the potential loss of privacy. Farmers feared the trolleys’ high-pitched whine would disturb the livestock. The Daughters of the Confederacy feared that tracks encircling the Confederate monument would diminish the memorial’s environs on Franklin’s quaint town square. Despite such staggering discouragement, eight investors met in March 1902 to plot out a commuter rail line between Nashville and Franklin. The project sputtered along until December of 1905, when the board of directors reorganized and named noted Franklin citizen Henry Hunter Mayberry as President. Soon, the Carnegie Trust Co. of New York agreed to furnish the needed capital. When that bank failed, local investors finally bought into the idea. On May Day, 1907, project enthusiasts gathered at Mayberry’s home to lift a spade of dirt to commemorate the beginning of construction. On Christmas Eve, 1908, a crowd on Franklin’s square roared its approval as the first yellow electric trolley car braked to a stop while Franklin’s mayor drove in the track’s final spike, a golden one. Acquiring right of way for the 50-foot-wide strip was a project in itself, considering the line’s completed length of 88,440 feet. A bitter lawsuit regarding the right of way needed across James E. Caldwell’s driveway ended up before the Tennessee Supreme Court. The Interurban won the suit, but Caldwell’s driveway was granted the status of a railroad crossing. Every car had to stop at the Caldwells’ and the conductor was required to climb out and flag the driveway. No matter the time of day, the conductor added a bonus – a loud and long whistle. Better roads and the automobile eventually drove the Interurban out of business. The unique venture made its last run on November 9, 1941.