Finding Nemo in Tennessee

Join me on a short trip to find Nemo… We’ve all seen or heard of the Disney movie “Finding Nemo” before, right? Well, all joking aside, there is a unique destination in Tennessee called Nemo and it is very much worth the time to see. It is located in Morgan County just a short drive from the town of Wartburg. I have frequented this place for several years and it is easily one of my favorite places to watch trains (known as railfanning). Some people visit for the swimming and water activities in the Emory River, while others enjoy taking their Jeeps through the abandoned railroad tunnels and along the areas numerous primitive roads. If you’re like me, however, then it’s all about the history and trains!

Nemo is along the Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific (CNO&TP) mainline, which extends from Cincinnati, OH to Chattanooga, TN. It is also part of what was nicknamed the Rathole Division of the former Southern Railway. If you know anything about this area, then you can understand how it earned that name. There are plenty of ratholes, or tunnels, to be found. More used to exist, but many were daylighted or bypassed to allow for larger trains and improved efficiency. Today, Norfolk Southern operates this very active line and it’s not uncommon to see several trains pass by within an hour timespan. I personally enjoy setting up my camera and a fold-up chair near the newer Tunnel 24 and just watch trains all day. This is especially true during fall when the weather is cooler and there’s some nice color in the gorge. It’s the best!

Regardless of the reason for visiting, there’s something for everyone at Nemo. Take a look through my photos and then plan your trip.

This is the old Tunnel 24 at Nemo which was bored in 1878 and currently abandoned. The tunnel was bypassed by a larger one during the 1960’s (“new” Tunnel 24) located within walking distance. Adventurous people enjoy taking their Jeeps through the old tunnel. I’ve been once, but it’s been a long time ago. While it was very fascinating experience, it was also a bit creepy.
Concrete marker with the tunnel number (24) just above the south portal.
This preserved steel truss bridge was rebuilt after the flood of 1929. It parallels the modern-day road bridge and is used by hikers to view the Emory River from above.
Another view of the steel walking bridge at Nemo from the Emory River level.
Any way you look at it, it’s “steel chaos.” LOL This picture turned out great in my opinion. There’s just something appealing about the disorder and craziness from this view.
The cool water of the Emory River beckons you on a hot summer day! It’s no wonder why so many people enjoy Nemo for the water.
Beautiful wildflowers can be found in abundance. Nemo is close to the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area, which offers miles of dirt roads and trails through the mountains.
This orange daylily is one of my favorite flower types. I always look forward to the time of the year when they can be found blooming in abundance.

7 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this story and pictures. I’ve heard about ‘the rat hole’ for years, but have never been in the area. This article may change my mind.

    Like

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