Here are four very nice pieces of "Nashville" pattern dining car china from the Tennessee Central Railway: a matching demitasse cup and saucer set, a sugar packet holder and a second demitasse saucer in blue and green.
These hand painted dishes are in fine condition, bright and attractive, with no cracks, chips, flakes or repairs. The maker is Shenango China, using their "Inca Ware" tan base china. This ware is not dated, but was used by the TC before passenger service was discontinued in 1955. "Nashville" was not railroad marked.
This is authentic dinnerware from the TCRR, according to "The Official Guide to Railroad DIning Car China" collectpr guide, in which an example is shown on page 153 and author McIntyre says: "I have received photographic evidence which shows this pattern in use on a TC dining car. It is uncertain whether or not this is a stock pattern, but it is not very common."
BACKGROUND: The Tennessee Central Railway's ancestor was founded in 1884 as the Nashville & Knoxville Railroad. It was built as an attempt to open up a rail route from the coal and minerals of East Tennessee to the markets of the mid-state, a service which many businessmen felt was not being adequately provided by the existing railroad companies, but the N&K was only completed between Lebanon, where it connected to a Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway branch from Nashville, and Standing Stone (now Monterey).
By the 1880s railroads were becoming a mature industry and it was not easy for a new competitor to break in. The firm and its successor companies would struggle for decades with both financial woes and hostility from the more established lines. In 1893, entrepreneur "Colonel" Jere Baxter eventually found backing and financed expansion. He organized and constructed four lines that, together with the N&K , were to become the Tennessee Central. The lines were reorganized in 1902 and renamed the Tennessee Central Railroad. Several versions of this name were used over a period of some thirty years, until the final name, Tennessee Central Railway, was adopted in 1922.
Wartime traffic in the early 1940s brightened the financial picture, but after that hard times returned. The last steam locomotives were pulled from service in 1952, and 1954 saw the opening of the first unit of the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston coal-fired power generating plant, which was largely fed coal from TC's own on-line coal mines operators. The company dropped money-losing passenger service on July 31, 1955. Brief profitability was restored through 1956, but in 1957 the TVA began awarding contracts to non-TC coal mine operators and their traffic boom went bust. Although the program of right-of-way improvement and new equipment acquisition had been carried out, the firm at length was unable to repay loans and fell into its third and final receivership in 1968.