|Although its eastern end was in Stevenson, AL, a few dozen miles short of Georgia (and hundreds of miles from Charleston), the Memphis & Charleston is included here because it strengthened the "Western" in Western & Atlantic Railroad. When the State of Georgia built the W&A, its intent was to connect by rail the Atlantic coast and the Mississippi River valley, a project certain to boost trade and commerce in the state.
The W&A reached Chattanooga in late 1849, and in 1854 the city welcomed its second railroad with the completion of the Nashville & Chattanooga. In 1858, the Memphis & Charleston became the city's third railroad, even though its tracks ended at Stevenson. The M&C had worked out an agreement with the N&C that allowed its trains to enter Chattanooga via the 38 miles of N&C tracks from Stevenson.
The Memphis & Charleston formed the final link in a continuous rail corridor from Savannah and Charleston to the Mississippi River. A traveler departing Savannah, for example, could take a Central of Georgia train to Macon, a Macon & Western train to Atlanta, a Western & Atlantic train to Chattanooga, and a Memphis & Charleston train to Memphis, where Mississippi River steamboats provided opportunities for even longer trips. If the traveler left Charleston rather than Savannah, the route would have been the South Carolina Railroad to Augusta and the Georgia Railroad to Atlanta.
In 1877, the M&C was leased to the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia. The ETV&G was folded into the Southern Railway in 1894, and in 1982 Southern became Norfolk Southern.