Railroad Track Through Backbone Rock

Photo of Backbone Rock as it appeared in the early 1900's

Backbone Rock is one of the most interesting geological features in the world. It is basically a long, tall spur of stone that extends out from Iron Mountain in the Cherokee National Forest at Sutherland, TN.

The photo below shows how Backbone Rock looked in the early 1900's, complete with railroad tracks running through it. If you look closely you can see men standing on top of the rock.

You will also notice that the top of the tunnel isn't evenly rounded... when they blasted the hole through Backbone Rock they forgot to account for the height of the train's smokestack, so they had to go back and chisel away some more!
Backbone Rock in the early 1900's
 Photo courtesy of Gibson Parks Vance, Jr. 

The tunnel was blasted through the rock so trains loaded with timber could pass through on their way from the logging operations in Shady Valley, TN to the sawmill in Sutherland. The railroad tracks were later replaced by a two-lane road which is still in use today.

Here is another old photo of Backbone Rock that was taken after the railroad tracks had been removed:

Backbone Rock with a dirt road running through it.
Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech Imagebase. 

Backbone Rock has been around for eons, but its appearance has certainly changed several times during the last century. Click the link below to see a modern view of Backbone Rock...

See how Backbone Rock looks today


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