The History of Wartrace
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WARTRACE Chamber of Commerce
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Wartrace Chamber of Commerce P.O. Box 543 Wartrace, Tennessee 37183 (931) 240-0300
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The name Wartrace evolved from Native Americans who used area  trails as warpaths or war trails. In the early 1800's Andrew Jackson  purchased a large tract of land from James Robertson that included  the site of present day Wartrace. In 1813 Old Hickory is said to have  carved "this is War Trail Creek" into a beech tree near the stream that  bears the name Wartrace Creek today. In 1851 Rice Coffee donated  eight acres of land to the newly chartered Nashville and Chattanooga  Rail Road to attract the proposed line to eastern Bedford County.  Wartrace Depot came into existence when the N&C was completed in  1852. On October 3rd. 1853 a formal charter was granted to Wartrace  Depot which was eventually shortened to Wartrace. With the  withdrawal of Confederate troops from the battle of Murfreesboro at  Stones River in 1862, Wartrace became a winter encampment site  during the Tullahoma Campaign. General William J. Hardee  established his headquarters and camps at Beech Wood Plantation one mile east of the present town limits. An earthen  fort, or redoubt, still exists on private property located atop the highest hill on the east side of Wartrace.  On April 11, 1862 a skirmish between Union and Confederate troops  took place in Wartrace and is recounted in a journal by Lt. Col. James  M. Shanklin, the commander of a Federal 42nd Indiana detachment  stationed in Wartrace. Shanklin's journal was later published in Vol. 1  of The Soldier of Indiana in the War for the Union in 1866.  Old Chockley Tavern, a stagecoach stop near downtown, became a  meeting  place for Confederate officers including Major General Patrick  R. Cleburne. In "Dairy of A Confederate Soldier" by John Jackman, he  mentions area locations visited during the Tullahoma Campaign. Wartrace thrived during the late nineteenth and early twentieth  centuries. At one time the town had five banks, two large flour mills  and as many as six inns and hotels for rail travelers transferring to the  Shelbyville branch line. During the peak agricultural seasons train loads of hogs and potatoes were shipped to market  from Wartrace.   Wartrace briefly became known as a health resort in the late 1800's when special trains carried Victorians to the sulphur  springs and wells located in the village. The demand for Wartrace bottled water became so great that it was shipped to  other towns. The Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway dispatched up to  thirteen passenger trains per day through Wartrace during the heyday  of train travel. NC&St.L's first class flagship, the Dixie Flyer, carried  well-heeled travelers between Chicago and Miami in plush parlor cars  and private drawing rooms. The first formally organized horse show was  held in 1906 on the town square. The famous Tennessee Walking Horse breed was developed by Wartrace area horsemen in the 1920's and  30's. The idea for a Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was hatched by a group of breeders and trainers, including noted horseman  Henry Davis, in the dining room of the Walking  Horse Hotel in 1938. The first National Grand Champion Walking Horse (1939), Strolling Jim,  was trained and stabled; and is now buried, behind the present day  Walking Horse Hotel. In the mid 1990's the entire downtown commercial district and dozens of Wartrace homes were placed on the  prestigious National Register of Historic Places. For history buffs, there are five state historical commission markers  inthe area, a Tullahoma Campaign informational kiosk in Memorial Park and various bronze historical plaques on  downtown buildings. A "Walking Tour of Historic Homes and Buildings" brochure is available at local shops and in  TownHall.