This northwest Georgia railroad began its existence in 1881 when the Rome & Carrollton Railroad was chartered to build a line between those two cities. It was not until 1884, however, when new ownership took over, that track construction began.
About 20 miles of narrow-gauge track between Rome and Cedartown had been put into place when, in 1887, the company reorganized and changed its name to Chattanooga, Rome & Columbus Railroad, reflecting more ambitious goals for the enterprise. It was also decided that the railroad should be a standard-gauge line, so the earlier trackage was rebuilt and all later tracks were constructed at that gauge.
The primary contractor on the line was Daniel Callahan, whose crews had constructed many miles of rail in various parts of Georgia and neighboring states.
Finally, after seven years of delay, false starts, and late progress, the 140-mile line between Chattanooga and Carrollton opened on July 1, 1888. By 1890 the railroad had added 18 miles of branch lines to area iron ore mines and furnaces.
The owners planned to extend the main line as far as Columbus, some 230 miles from Chattanooga, but no tracks were ever constructed beyond Carrollton.
In 1889 the railroad operated 12 locomotives, 12 passenger cars, and 400 freight and miscellaneous cars. President J. D. Williamson and most of the other officers were residents of Rome.
The line was bought by the Savannah & Western Railroad, a subsidiary of the Central of Georgia, in 1891. Soon after the purchase, the S&W and its parent Central
of Georgia went into receivership. In early 1894 the federal courts
separated the CR&C from the Savannah & Western and returned
it to its original owners.
Three years later, the line was once again in financial trouble.
It was sold to Simon Borg and Company and was reorganized as the Chattanooga, Rome & Southern Railroad.
In 1900 the CR&S purchased the Chattanooga & Durham Railroad, a 17-mile road that ran west from Chickamauga to coal mines
atop Lookout Mountain.
On May 16, 1901, the Central regained its connection to Chattanooga by purchasing the CR&S.