East & West Railroad of Alabama

Rockmart, Ga., on the former East & West Railroad of Alabama

Rockmart, on the route of the East & West Railroad of Alabama.


After receiving its charter in February 1882, the E&W began constructing a winding narrow-gauge rail line from Broken Arrow, Alabama, to Esom Hill in western Polk County, Georgia, over a distance of 64 miles. It opened its first section of track in October of that year.

Also in 1882, the company leased the Cherokee Railroad, which linked Cedartown and Cartersville. The following year, contractor Daniel Callahan was hired to build the 9-mile connection between the two lines, and in 1884 he was again hired to convert the tracks to standard gauge. The actual conversion took place in 1889-90.

In 1886, the E&W acquired the Cherokee and merged it into its own operations.

East & West Railroad of Alabama, 1886 timetable

From: Rand-McNally Official Railway Guide and Hand Book, 1886. Online at HathiTrust Digital Library here.

According to George W. Hilton, the company planned to extend its line eastward from Cartersville to Gainesville where it would connect with the Atlanta & Charlotte Air-Line Railway. A new line from Broken Arrow to Birmingham would also be built. These various pieces would together form a fairly direct route from Birmingham to Gainesville.

The E&W was never able to implement these grand plans. Its sole further construction came in 1888 when it built a short connection from Broken Arrow to the Georgia Pacific Railroad at Pell City. It entered receivership the same year.

In the 1889 edition of The Official Railway List, the railroad reported operating 7 locomotives, 7 passenger cars, and 156 freight and miscellaneous cars. In the 1894 edition, the figures were 12 locomotives, 7 passenger cars, and 134 freight and miscellaneous cars.

The E&W was purchased by Seaboard Air Line Railway in 1902 and made a part of Seaboard’s subsidiary Atlanta & Birmingham Air-Line Railway.

Note: Broken Arrow was renamed Coal City and later renamed again to Wattsville. (For more of the history of the community, see Coal City History at discoverstclair.com).

Maps and Timetables:

1886 map (132K)

1887 map (71K)

1887 map, Cartersville area (192K)

1888 timetable (158K)

1893 map (310K)

1894 timetable (125K)

Ladd's Mountain near Cartersville, GA

Ladd's Mountain near Cartersville was a landmark along the line. Here decades of limestone quarrying ripped away the ridge's southeastern corner.

1881 advertisement for Ladd's Lime Works

From: Edward Young Clarke, Atlanta Illustrated. Atlanta: J. P. Harrison & Company, 1881.


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