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.
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).
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.