Grandview sits on Walden's Ridge at the very edge of Tennessee's Cumberland Plateau. Just prior to the Civil War, the first person of record owning property in what became modern Grandview was Aaron Grant Marrs, a resident of Sulphur Springs (Spring City). After the Civil War, families began taking up residence along Piney Creek. They were a mix of "northern" veterans seeking opportunities to exploit the plateau's natural resources and "southern" farmers relocating their small farms from the valley below. Jeremiah Shufelt constructed a sawmill/gristmill combination on Piney Creek in 1870. A short distance away, William Riley Edington established the first Post Office in 1873, naming the growing collection of cabins "Piney Falls" for the 90-foot waterfall located nearby.
In the 1870s, an early settler of Piney Falls, Eastland Leander Stratton, became a regular contributor to the popular magazine, Forest and Stream. Submitting his articles under the pen name "Antler," he wrote about his experience living in the natural world surrounding Piney Falls. Mr. Stratton died Thanksgiving Day in 1899, and is buried in Grandview's Stebbins Cemetery.
By 1880, the Piney Falls village consisted of several homes (log & framed), two churches, a boarding house, a log school house and a store. Nearly thirty families comprised the village proper, and the same number of families populated the surrounding villages of Possum Trot and Mt. Zion. Per the U.S. Census for 1880, the following families were living in the immediate Piney Falls area:
Jolly, Edgerton Churchill, Whitehead, Edington, Stratton, Lockerby, Dagley, Abbott, Thompson, Edwards, Dunlap, Fortner, Morris, Carvey, Coles, Dye, Stebbins, Shufelt, Watson, Brady and Brown. Families living on Possum Trot Road leading out of Piney Falls and along the edge of the plateau toward Possum Trot included Huntington, Jewett, Powell, Gooding, Parmalee and Lemons.
On August 20, 1880, a narrow-gauge railroad was chartered by a company from England to serve the lumber operations of E.D. Albro & Co. and the mines of the Walden's Ridge Coal and Iron Company. An off-shoot of the Cincinnati Southern Railway, the intended route was from Rhea Springs (Spring City), Tennessee, up the edge of the plateau to the Piney Falls community, and then on to Jewett and the headwaters of the Sequatchie River. From there, the railroad would follow the Sequatchie River valley into Pikeville.
A crew of 300 men were employed for constructing the railroad, most of them African-Americans. A construction challenge was the bridging of Gum Gap - a near vertical drainage along the plateaus' edge. A railway trestle was built across Gum Gap at a height of 200 feet, and when the Piney Falls segment of the route was completed, passenger service was provided twice a day between the Rhea Springs depot and Piney Falls village. The first train arrived at Piney Falls on January 15, 1882.
On August 31, 1882, the next segment of the railroad was opened to Jewett, 12 miles west of Piney Falls. By that time the railroad's rolling stock included a single locomotive, a passenger coach, one baggage car, six flat cars, 14 coal cars and two service cars. After a short period of time, the passenger coach disappeared from the railroad's equipment roster, and passengers were conveyed up the plateau's edge on a flat car or in a caboose.
On September 24, 1883, ownership of the railroad changed, and the line was renamed the Tennessee Central Railroad. A new charter for the railroad was filed with the intention of extending the line west to Nashville and east to Murphy, North Carolina - a distance of 175 miles. However, construction never began, and in 1890 the railroad reported itself to the Interstate Commerce Commission as not operating. In 1891, the Gum Gap trestle burned completely to the ground, forever ending rail service for those living on the plateau.
With its Post Office founded
April 10, 1873, the village of Piney Falls became the first settlement on the eastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau between Chattanooga and the Cumberland Gap.