of Wartrace, Tennessee
|Established in 1851, the town became known as
Wartrace Depot the following year when the Nashville and Chattanooga Rail
Road built through eastern Bedford County. With the completion of a
branchline from Wartrace to Shelbyville in 1852 the town became a
quintessential "tank town" with a water tank, turntable and over
sixty N&C employed families.
The name Wartrace comes from its original use as a trail for Native
Americans. In I8I3 General Andrew Jackson is said to have carved
"this is Wartrail Creek" into a beech tree near the stream that
bears the name today.
Wartrace became known as a health resort in the late nineteenth century
when special trains carried Victorians to the sulphur springs and wells
located in the village. The demand for Wartrace bottled water was so great
that it was shipped to other towns.
Through the years there have been at least six historic inns and hotels
including The Chockley Tavern which served as a stagecoach stop and
headquarters for Major General Patrick R. Cleburne during the Confederate
withdrawal from Murfreesboro in 1862. The Old Chockley Inn & Tavern is
still serving guests at the original location near the tracks downtown.
At one time Wartrace boasted five banks and two
large flour mills. The Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway
dispatched up to thirteen mainline passenger trains per day through town
with the first class Dixie Flyer carrying well-heeled travelers between
Chicago and Miami in plush parlor cars and drawing rooms.
The famous Tennessee Walking Horse breed was developed by Wartrace area
horsemen in the I920's and 30's. The first grand champion Walking Horse,
Strolling Jim, was trained and is buried behind the present day Walking
Horse Hotel near downtown.
In the mid I990's the entire commercial district and several Wartrace
homes were placed on the prestigious National Register of Historic Places.
A "Walking Tour of Historic Homes and Buildings" brochure is
available to visitors at local shops or at the Historic Main Street Inn
Bed & Breakfast.