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May 11

Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel

Historical Marker: Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel

The 1447 foot long Chetoogeta Mountain railroad tunnel is one-half mile east of this marker. The tunnel was completed in 1850 and this opened the W&A RR from Atlanta to Chattanooga. This was the first railroad tunnel completed south of the Mason-Dixon Line and linked railroads from the atlatnic to the Mississippi River. The railroad was operating during the late 1840′s and good and passengers were portaged over Chetoogeta Mountain while the tunnel was under construction. A community grew up near the construction activity and Clisby Austin built a three story hotel in 1848. Tunnel Hill was incorporated on March 4, 1848. The W&A was approved by the Georgia Legislature in 1836 and surveyed by Stephen Harriman Long. Construction of the 137 mile line took 13 years and cost more than four million dollars. William L. Mitchell was Chief Engineer and William Gray was Chief Mason. Gray was given the honor of being the first to pass through the tunnel when the two headings were driven through on October 31, 1849. The tunnel was in use until larger locomotives and loads nessitated a larger tunnel in 1920.
The tunnel played a role in one of the most colorful exploits of the Civil War, The Great Locomotive Chase, James J. Andres and his band of Union “engine thieves” raced the stolen General through the tunnel closely pursued by the Texas, under Wm. Fuller, and Confederate forces.

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Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel
Georgia Historic Marker. 155-035, Georgia Historical Commission, 1992
Whitfield County Georgia
Latitude: 34° 50′ 24.492″ N
Longitude: 85° 2′ 35.4″ W

Photograph taken by Linda Woodward Geiger. All Rights Reserved

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