The L&N Railroad was a working railroad operating through the Vollintine-Evergreen Neighborhood from the pre-Civil War of 1980.
The road had previously reached from downtown Memphis to Raleigh and beyond to Nashville and Louisville. In its later years, the L&N route served only the large Sears Distribution Center on Cleveland Street, which is now creating the Crosstown Concourse.
The successor railroad had abandoned the L&N Railroad right of way in 1980. The path included 1.8 miles to Vollintine-Evergreen. The City of Memphis decided not to buy the property, and the State of TN did not have rail bank land, so the area remained empty and could not be maintained. Dumping, garbage, and high weeds became commonplace, and became an enticing refuge for crime. Adjacent residents were scared to walk the area because of its “no-man’s land” appearance.
In 1995, the Vollintine-Evergreen group obtained grants from the Pew Charitable Trusts to pursue a widespread revitalisation of the community. VECA used some of these funds to buy the abandoned right-of-way on 11 November 1996 and renamed it V&E Greenline. In 1997, V&E Greenline became a VECA program and as such is entitled to the privileges of a non-profit, tax-exempt entity IRS 501(c)(3). The property is owned by a separate neighborhood company, the V&E Greenline Community Corporation, while maintenance is handled by the V&E Greenline Committee.
The V&E Greenline is now a 1.8-mile path that stretches from near Crosstown Concourse to the west, past Rhodes College in the centre, and finishes at Springdale Street to the east. This prime natural trail is used for walking, running, dog training, leisurely cycling, and neighborly contact. It is used by residents of Vollintine Evergreen and Evergreen, as well as other neighboring and distant communities. The path has two bridges, a train station with a walkway, a wide tree canopy with oaks and several other plants, and a well-maintained but natural trail. It has many sculptures of art, shades and sun gardens, and wildlife, particularly near Lick Creek. It is funded by residents and trail users who contribute maintenance costs and has a wide pool of volunteers who manage and maintain the trail. Infrastructure was financed by grants and built up with in-kind corporate services and volunteer efforts.
V&E Greenline Trail Sections
“The Springs” is the eastern end of the V&E Greenline. It’s a small, quiet area with large trees that provide shade and beauty. It is also the widest portion of the Greenline and has many types of trees, shrubs and vines. It had an active spring in historic days, and it was also close to the baseball diamond and dance pavilion. A railroad track was temporarily constructed to supply materials for the construction of the first Rhodes College buildings.
Arbors and Gardens
‘Arbors and Gardens’ portion between Auburndale St and McLean Blvd includes 15 species of trees classified as arboretum. Adjacent residents were visionaries who moved a lot of trees from their backyard to V&E Greenline and watered them by hand in the first few years. Many of the trees in the Arbors were planted in 1995, and the canopy forest is now home to birds as well as a resting spot for users of the Greenline who want to enjoy sitting under the trees. Residents have began the garden on a small plot of land. Gardening was impossible because there was no soil—only railroad gravel and ballast. Idlewild gardens are the product of cooperative efforts and now have 30 varieties of annual flowers.
The West End” segment begins at the bridge near Watkins and North Parkway and goes to Stonewall St. Steep Bluffs. The Bluff’s panorama of trees and greenery is a natural location for the “Big Kids” sculptures, planned and created by the Rhodes College Art Class. To the west is the Crosstown Concourse building, which is conceived as a vertical urban village, including health care, housing and the arts. One of the neighboring residents said that gazing out at her back yard reminds her of the Smoky Mountains where she camped.
The “Keeler Bridge” segment from Stonewall St to Avalon St is highlighted by a beautiful iron bridge designed and donated by Keeler Ironworks. The bridge serves to connect this portion of the V&E Greenline to neighboring neighborhoods. The lovely Glenmary, a full-service community for seniors, is located south of the trail.
The “Stationhouse” portion runs from Avalon St to Belvedere St and has open green spaces containing water pumps from the golden sands of the aquifer from which MLGW supplies water to residents and businesses of Shelby County. Mature oak trees have a canopy for shade and an ideal spot for outdoor activities. This area is named after a railway station in the 19th century, located at 1625 Tutwiler, which acts as the “Trail Center” for V&E Greenline. The area is the location of the annual V&E Artwalk and the Woodland Memory Path. Ot has a water fountain for both humans and pets.
The “Lick Creek” portion runs from Dickinson St to Tutwiler Ave, across the creek on a bridge designed by Keeler Ironworks. The creek, a natural and living ecosystem, has a wide range of wildlife and has been a long-standing draw for children. After heavy rains, the bridge gives access to an impressive, raging flood, carrying water from the Overton Park area to the Mississippi River, a 6.6-mile water path.
“The Cut” segment from McLean Blvd to University St has high earth walls and is surrounded by a beautiful canopy of trees. Due to erosion issues, the former railroad owners planted kudzu, an invasive vine. Most of the volunteers tamed the kudzu and helped save the trees that had been strangled. The entrances have notched posts called bollards, which are located along the V&E Greenline to discourage motorized vehicles from accessing the trail.
Beautiful Memphis, Tennessee, is jam-packed with some of the state’s best hiking trails. If you’re a resident or just a visitor, make sure to check these hikes with your friends and family:
- Nesbit Park – Stanky Creek Trails
- Wolf River Refuge Trailhead
- Wolf River Greenway
- Big River Crossing
- The Hampline Agricenter Sunflower Trail
- Shelby Farms Park
- Tour de Wolf Trailhead
- Chickasaw Trailhead
These amazing trails are located just down the street from our location at South Third Street across from The Southgate Shopping Center. Stop by for a visit anytime!