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Elizabethton in Carter County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
 

Bemberg Station / Port Rayon

 
 
Bemberg Station / Port Rayon Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, May 13, 2019
1. Bemberg Station / Port Rayon Marker
Inscription.  In the 1920s, German and Dutch investors established two factories for the production of rayon in Elizabethton: American Bemberg Corporation and North American Rayon Corporation. The East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad (ET&WNC), originally built in the 1880s to transport iron ore from Cranberry, NC to Johnson City, TN, became a major source of transportation for these factories. A passenger and freight station was established on this site in 1929, consisting at first of a boxcar set on blocks. The permanent Bemberg Station seen today opened soon thereafter, serving both the Bemberg and North American Rayon plants. The station became especially important during World War Two, as the US government took over operation of the factories and Bemberg Station was renamed Port Rayon. Most of the workers in the vital factories were women and, due to gasoline rationing, most needed public transportation. Beginning in August 1942, the railroad ran three daily round trips from Johnson City to Shell Creek, TN, and later to Elk Park, NC. The commuter service ended in 1945 but after the war the railroad continued to ship freight to and from the
Marker detail: Locomotive passes the water tower that was located just east of Bemberg Station image. Click for full size.
ETSU Archives of Appalachia, Cy Crumley Collection
2. Marker detail: Locomotive passes the water tower that was located just east of Bemberg Station
factories for many years. American Bemberg shut down in 1974, while North American Rayon, under various owners, operated until 1997.

Source: John R. Waite, The Blue Ridge Stemwinder (2003)
--Department of Appalachian Studies, East Tennessee State University

(photo captions)
• A locomotive passes the water tower that was located just east of Bemberg Station. (ETSU Archives of Appalachia, Cy Crumley Collection)
• A postcard, probably from the 1940s. Note Bemberg Station at bottom right. (ETSU Archives of Appalachia, Ridley Wills East Tennessee Postcard Collection)
• The remaining portion of the Bemberg factory today. (ETSU Dept. of Appalachian Studies)
 
Erected by The Tweetsie Trail and East Tennessee State University.
 
Location. 36° 20.891′ N, 82° 14.488′ W. Marker is in Elizabethton, Tennessee, in Carter County. Marker is on West Elk Avenue (U.S. 321) 0.1 miles east of Hudson Drive, on the right when traveling east. Marker is located along the Tweetsie Trail, on the north side of the Elizabethton High School Stadium grounds. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1100 West Elk Avenue, Elizabethton TN 37643, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Bemberg Water Tower (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Green Hill Cemetery
Marker detail: Postcard of American Rayon Corporation, circa 1940s image. Click for full size.
ETSU Archives of Appalachia, Ridley Wills East Tennessee Postcard Collection
3. Marker detail: Postcard of American Rayon Corporation, circa 1940s
(approx. half a mile away); Transylvania Purchase (approx. 0.6 miles away); Watauga Fort (approx. 0.6 miles away); Watauga Purchase (approx. 0.6 miles away); Sycamore Shoals of the Watauga (approx. 0.6 miles away); Cedar Grove Cemetery (approx. 1.6 miles away); Duffield Academy (approx. 1.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Elizabethton.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Bemberg Station, Elizabethton, Tennessee
 
Also see . . .
1. Bemberg and North American Rayon Corporation. The northern skyline along West Elk Avenue in Elizabethton is outlined with the smoke stack and empty shell that represents Carter County's largest employer ever. The decision to build a manufacturing facility in Elizabethton was finalized sometime around 1925. In October of 1926, American Bemberg began the manufacture of what was called "artificial silk," which was also known as rayon. (Submitted on June 21, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. North American Rayon Corporation and American Bemberg Corporation. Throughout the Great Depression
Bemberg Station / Port Rayon Marker<br>(<i>wide view • Bemberg Station in background</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, May 13, 2019
4. Bemberg Station / Port Rayon Marker
(wide view • Bemberg Station in background)
Marker is located alongside the Tweetsie Trail
the plants remained operational and, overall, continued to profit. The number of workers employed bottomed out at 2,491 in 1932 and peaked at 4,500 in 1939. During World War II the plants’ production of rayon yarn increased, and the plants altered production to meet wartime demands. Bemberg, for instance, made parachute cloth. Beginning in 1949, the plants entered into a long period of struggle precipitated both by the failure of low-wage industries in the South to experience significant growth and by changes in the synthetic fibers market. (Submitted on June 21, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceRailroads & StreetcarsWar, World II
 
Bemberg Factory Ruins<br>(<i>view north from parking lot northwest of marker</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, May 13, 2019
5. Bemberg Factory Ruins
(view north from parking lot northwest of marker)
Bemberg Station (<i>west side • view from near marker • Tweetsie Trail on left</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, May 13, 2019
6. Bemberg Station (west side • view from near marker • Tweetsie Trail on left)
 

More. Search the internet for Bemberg Station / Port Rayon.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 21, 2019. This page originally submitted on June 19, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 71 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on June 21, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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