The Nashville and Florence Railroad Company was incorporated on February 24, 1879 and whose purpose after some pruning of legalistic verbiage, was to construct a line from Columbia, TN to Florence, AL, a distance of 79 miles. The proposed line traversed finely timbered country and it was hoped that the iron ore deposits located in Lawrence County, through which 38 miles of the road passed, would prove to be important revenue producers.
The L&N, soon thereafter acquired a majority of the capital stock in this company and advanced the cost of construction, which by July 1, 1883, had reached a point about 20 miles south of Columbia, TN. The N&F rebuilt the line between Columbia and Mt. Pleasant (11 miles) formerly the property of the Nashville and Decatur, and by February, 1884, its line had reached St. Joseph, TN, 56 miles from home base. Here it rested for several years and on January 19, 1887, the Tennessee and Alabama Railroad was chartered in Alabama for the purpose of building a railroad from Sheffield, AL across the Tennessee River from Florence, to a point of connection with the N&F at the Tennessee-Alabama state line.
The T&A Railroad, however, never turned a spade or wheel and it w as consolidated with the N&F on May 16, 1887, to form the Nashville, Florence and Sheffield Railroad Company, which completed the line from St. Joseph to Florence, 24 miles, on July 1, 1888. Access to Sheffield across the Tennessee River, was gained through the use of the bridge and other facilities of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad Company, which became part of the Southern Railway System. The West Point Branch (now abandoned) was completed the same year. As owner of the majority of the capital stock of the Nashville, Florence and Sheffield Railway, the L&N operated this road for
its owners from July 1, 1987 to May 31, 1900, when it purchased the property outright. The Sheffield & Tuscumbia Railway Company, 2-1/2 miles long, which had originally been incorporated on November 23, 1886, as the Sheffield & Tuscumbia Street Railway Company, was completed and placed in operation September 10, 1895, by the Nashville, Florence and Sheffield Railway Company.
The Tri-city area of Sheffield, Florence and Tuscumbia in Northwestern Alabama w as at this time enjoying a boom, which threatened Birmingham’s supremacy as a center for the manufacture of iron; a boom which to a large extent owed much to the completion for the railroad. Another potent factor in its development was Colonel Enoch Ensley, who had trekked northward, following certain disappointments in the Birmingham district. Under his energetic guidance and that of his associates a number of blast furnace were built at Sheffield. The building of the blast furnaces attracted other industries and a number of factories manufacturing pipe, stove, etc. sprang up. The formation of the Lady Ensley Coal, Iron and Railroad Company in 1891, predecessor of what later became the Sheffield Iron and Steel Company, added impetus to the development of the Sheffield, Florence, Tuscumbia district. (This history retyped from an old xerox copy from unknown source)
The image below show the route of Florence, AL to Columbia, TN railway. To the present day to the best of our knowledge follows the original railway bed.