Built by industrialist Mark Anthony Cooper in 1858-59, the Etowah Railroad connected Cooper's ironworks and flour mills with the Western & Atlantic Railroad near Emerson. About four miles long, the line ran along the north bank of the Etowah River in the area that now lies between U.S. 41 and Allatoona Lake. The railroad ceased operation after Federal troops destroyed the ironworks and mills on May 22nd and 23rd, 1864.
Cooper and his partners Moses Stroup and Leroy M. Wiley acquired the charter for the Etowah Railroad Company in December of 1847, well before the W&A was completed. The new company was authorized to build a railway up the river to Canton, and even as far as the gold mining town of Dahlonega. Investors for the ambitious project could not be found, however, and only the section to the ironworks was ever put into operation. Cooper had to pay $40,000 of his own funds for its construction.
Today the railroad has been gone for well over a century but a couple of sizeable reminders of it history can still be seen. Alongside the U.S. 41 crossing of the Etowah are the tall stone piers of the W&A bridge, where the Etowah Railroad connected with the larger line. At the eastern terminus is the massive Cooper furnace, a stone pyramid that produced iron for the Confederacy during the Civil War.
The Yonah, a steam engine operated by the Etowah Railroad, played a significant role in the Great Locomotive Chase.
More info on Cooper's Furnace Day Use Area.
Area map showing railroad location.