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History 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.