Atlanta & West Point Railroad

Locomotive of the Atlanta & West Point Railroad

The Atlanta & LaGrange Rail Road, chartered in 1847, was completed in May, 1854. The 80-mile line from East Point, about six miles southwest of Atlanta, to LaGrange and West Point was renamed the Atlanta & West Point Rail Road in 1857.West Point Route logo

It became a key link in the South's 1200-mile through route from the Potomac River at Alexandria to the Gulf at Mobile and a major impetus to Atlanta's emergence as a rail center.

Much of the early investment in the line came from the Georgia Railroad & Banking Company, an Augusta company whose railroads between Augusta, Athens, and Atlanta were among the state’s earliest.

Until the construction of six miles of its own track in 1889, A&WP trains entered Atlanta on the tracks of the Macon & Western Railroad (later Central of Georgia).

1855 listing from Mitchell's new traveller's guide through the United States and the Canadas.... Online at Internet Archive here.

For many years the A&WP was controlled indirectly by the Atlantic Coast Line through the ACL’s lease of the railroad properties of the Georgia Railroad & Banking Company. The lease was originally obtained by William Wadley, president of the Central of Georgia, in 1881. After some maneuvering, Wadley managed to get the lease split 50/50 between the Central and the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. In 1898-99, the L&N briefly held the entire lease, before selling a half-interest to the ACL. In 1902, the ACL gained control of the L&N (although the L&N was allowed to operate separately).

Further complicating the organizational structure was the Western Railway of Alabama, which was one of the railroad properties of the Georgia Railroad & Banking Company. Beginning in 1883, it was under the same management as the A&WP, but operated under its own name.

In the 1894 edition of The Official Railway List, the A&WP and WofA reported operating 39 locomotives, 33 passenger cars, and 692 freight and miscellaneous cars. The A&WP operated 87 miles of railroad, and the WofA operated 138.

In the late 1890s, the A&WP began building a belt line in Atlanta to connect its main line near East Point to the Georgia Railroad. After a restraining order stopped the work, the A&WP formed the Atlanta Belt Railway Company to complete the 5.5-mile line. [See Atlanta BeltLine (and Belt Lines).]

After 1903 the A&WP and the Western Railway of Alabama operated jointly under the marketing name West Point Route. An earlier such name was Atlanta and New Orleans Short Line.

The Atlanta & West Point name lasted until 1983, when it and the Georgia Railroad were absorbed into the Seaboard System Railroad.

Late 19th century locomotive and rail cars. (From: The Heart of the South along the line of the Atlanta & West Point RR. Atlanta: Atlanta & West Point RR and Western Railway of Alabama, 1898. Online at Internet Archive.)

Pacific-type locomotive built for A&WP by American Locomotive Company at its Rogers works in Paterson, NJ. (From: Railway and Locomotive Engineering, November 1907).

Maps, Timetables, and Other Information:

1863 timetable (118K)

1864 map, Atlanta to Newnan (187K)

1864 map, Newnan to West Point (183K)

1865-66 detailed map and profile at Library of Congress

1870 timetable (170K)

1883 map (282K)

1895 timetable (158K)

1906 timetable (266K)

1917 equipment list (59K)

1969 map (80K)

Suggested Reading:

Robert H. Hanson. The West Point Route: The Atlanta & West Point Rail Road and The Western Railway of Alabama. Lynchburg, VA: TLC Publishing, 2007.

Atlanta & New Orleans Short Line advertisement, 1891

From: Atlanta City Directory for 1891. Online at Internet Archive here.

art Georgia's Railroad History & Heritage. © Steve Storey.

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