DeRossett Railroad Section House Museum
The DeRossett Railroad Section House Museum is housed in an original Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway section house. The house has been restored to its original condition through the efforts of the volunteers of the Bon Air Mountain Historical Society. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior in July, 2011.
The section house was built circa 1904 to house work crews of the N,C&SL Railway that served the Bon Air Mountain mining communities which were a major producer of coal for the state of Tennessee. DeRossett had five section houses, a depot and storage facilities to support the operations of the N,C&SL Railway. The section house retains over 90% of its original design, materials, and workmanship.
The DeRossett section house is a good example of an early twentieth century railroad section house and is the only one of its kind still in existence. The museum is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the mining history of the region as well as the history of the railroad in this rugged part of the Cumberland Plateau. The section house is located adjacent to historical US Highway 70 which is known as the “Broadway of America”.
The rugged, mountainous Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee has a long history of mining and natural resources extraction including much of Tennessee's coal deposits. Early commercial ventures in this remote area focused on coal mining, especially during the latter half of the nineteenth century as the industrial base of the South began to expand. Major railroads of the region such as the N,C&SL Railway began to expand their operations to take advantage of new business opportunities. New transportation links were established in areas such as the Cumberland Plateau which were previously isolated from population centers. The coming of the railroad ushered in a new era of transportation and economic development. The people of the Cumberland Plateau found themselves able to travel to distant cities and the coal they mined could be shipped to various commercial centers.
By the early 1920s, highways were being constructed throughout the country including the Cumberland Plateau. US Highway 70, known as the Broadway of America, was one of the main east – west highway routes that extended from the Atlantic coast in North Carolina to the Pacific coast in California. US Highway 70 passed over the Cumberland Plateau and through DeRossett which further opened up the area for development. By World War II, this once isolated region had become accessible to people from all over the country who visited the region to enjoy its natural beauty and recreational opportunities.
The DeRossett Section House museum is home to a comprehensive collection of historical artifacts related to the mining and transportation history of Bon Air Mountain. Since opening in 2009 the museum has welcomed over 1000 visitors from fourteen states. Please see the "Contact Us" page for hours of operation and other important information.