SAL Atlanta-Birmingham through service : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

I would like to know when the last passenger service was operated on the Seaboard Atlanta-Birmingham line.

I would also like to know when the line was last operated with through freights. Sounds like the line was abandoned piece-meal over the past 10-20 years.

Did SAL have much freight business bewteen Atlanta and B'ham? What about SCL and now CSX? Does much freight operate today between the two cities over the old A&WP/ACL routing? Does CSX have any significant interchange/feed in B'ham? Or is the Atlanta-Birmingham only a Norfolk Southern stronghold, as CSX's current route appears much longer than either NS or the old SAL?

-- Tom Randall (, June 29, 1999


The last passenger train that operated over the SAL Atl./B'ham line was the Silver Comet, whose last run took place in 1969. I lived not far from that line in the late 1988, the whistles were few and far between and trains were really small-although I remember seeing a SP run-through engine on one train. I was en route to Marietta when I passed over the last train I saw on that line in '88...I remember it had a Chessie GP30 on the front. I don't know what gives about why CSX ripped the line up-a crewman told me they had just laid down MSI cable around it! CSX was really baffling at the time, though, and made several decisions that didn't make a lot of sense to me (bye-bye Grafton-St.Louis:bet they wish they hadn't done THAT now, huh?).There's a railfan rumor going around that CSX was afraid of being merger bait and ripped up the line to keep from being taken over by a bigger western outfit...Anybody wanna' comment? Bud Leggett

-- Bud(David L.)Leggett (, June 21, 2001.

Was that "Terminal Station" or another facility?

By the way, does anyone happen to know the legal condition of the right of way for the two abandoned portions of the SAL line, South Cobb to Rockmart, and Cedartown to Wellington? I think the State owns the former, but I am not sure about the corridor between Cedartown and Wellington.

I may be in left field, and I must confess I am a little hung-up on the abandonment of this line, as it would appear to offer strategic value to CSX if it were to have been "leveraged" (to use a '90s term) to its potential. I see potentials as:

A) A secondary route from Cartersville into Atlanta through the Cartersville branch and Rockmart wye. It about 22 miles longer, but could relieve congestion on this overtaxed portion of the W&A.

B) A direct route from eastern Kentucky to B'ham (via Junta/Cartersville branch, Rockmart), as well as a secondary route from Cincinatti to B'ham and points south.

C) A more direct route (about 70 miles) than the current Atlanta- B'ham route.

and lastly, D) A much more direct route (about 90 miles) to Memphis from Hamlet (or Savannah/Charleston) via Atlanta/B'ham, compared to via Atlanta/Chattanooga/Nashville. This would require some sort of through service or traffic rights on BNSF's old Frisco B'ham-Memphis line.

Thanks for any responses and I will try to lay off this subject for a while!

Tom Randall

-- Tom Randall (, September 30, 1999.

I don't mean to split hairs here, but the SAL did not use the Southern's station in Atlanta. It used the facility owned by the Atlanta Terminal Company, which was owned in equal shares by the Atlanta & West Point, Central of Georgia (independent until 1963), and Southern Ry.

Bob Hanson

-- Robert H. Hanson (, September 30, 1999.

In the 1970s, there was an SLSF/SCL run-through between Memphis and Hamlet that used the ex-SAL between Birmingham and Atlanta (2 trains per day in each direction). There was also one train that ran Richmond-Birmingham.

In SAL times, there could have been interchange with the GM&O and IC at Birmingham (there certainly was interchange with the GM&O at Montgomery).

By the way, the Southern Crescent operated over the ex-SAL between Atlanta and Birmingham for several days in 1974 or 1975 after a major wreck on the Southern's Atlanta-Birmingham line. SAL had used the Southern's passenger stations in Atlanta (downtown) and Birmingham, so the interchange was simple. The passenger lead from the SAL to the Southern at Howell Tower in Atlanta was pulled up in the early 1980s, however.

-- Chuck Till (, July 01, 1999.


CSX currently runs one dedicated Atlanta/Birmingham train over the A and WP sub/Lineville sub. The train is 678 and 679. A and WP crews take 679 as far as LaGrange, where it is then picked up by a Lineville sub crew and vice versa for 678. LaGrange is used alot as a drop off, pick up point for cars destined to Atlanta/Hamlett/Birmingham, etc. The Dunsen Lead and small yard serves this purpose. Several years ago there was also a coal train that ran out of Atlanta to a powerplant outside B-ham, I think Gaston? The coal train no longer runs this route. The train was known as "The Wilsonville Coal Train". I'm not too up to date with ops now, but I think they remain the same. A new connection was installed in LaGrange for traffic from Manchester, to reach the new pig yard at Fairburn. I do not know what kind of new traffic Fairburn will introduce. I'm sure it will effect the A and WP and the south end of the Lineville sub from LaGrange. As far as the past ops, I cant tell ya anything about it. Sorry.


-- Jim (, June 29, 1999.

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