Western Railway of Alabama

WR of A 6-wheel switcher built by Rogers.

For most of the twentieth century the Atlanta & West Point Railroad and the Western Railway of Alabama jointly operated an Atlanta-Montgomery connection known as the West Point Route, named for the Chattahoochee River town of West Point, Georgia, where the two lines met.

The WR of A dated back to January 20, 1832 when a charter was granted to the Montgomery Railroad for theWest Point Route logo purpose of building a rail line from the Alabama city to the Chattahoochee across from Columbus. In 1834 a second charter was acquired, with the eastern terminus changed from Columbus to West Point. Because of difficulties in finding financing, the first 12 miles of road, from Montgomery eastward, did not open until 1840. Further financial troubles lead to a foreclosure sale in 1842 and reorganization as the Montgomery and West Point Railroad. The line was finally completed to West Point in 1851.

A branch line from Opelika to Columbus was constructed in 1852-56.

Having built a railroad from Montgomery to eastern markets, the M&WP’s owners soon turned their attention to building a western line to Selma. To further this effort, in 1854 they established the new Western Rail Road Company of Alabama and consolidated the M&WP into the new company. It was not until 1870, however, that the Selma line was opened and the consolidation completed.

In 1875 the Georgia Railroad and the Central of Georgia jointly purchased the WR of A. In 1881, William M. Wadley, the Central’s president, leased the Georgia Railroad. Along with it, he acquired the Georgia’s interests in the WR of A and the Atlanta & West Point. Wadley then assigned the lease jointly to the Central of Georgia and the Louisville & Nashville.

In 1882 the Columbus and Western Railway subsidiary of the Central acquired the WRofA’s Columbus-Opelika branch. This line eventually became part of the Central’s Columbus-Birmingham branch.

WRA 531 at Athens, GA on February 22, 1975. (Photo by Frankie Grove. Some rights reserved.)

In 1916 the WR of A reported operating 22 locomotives, 25 passenger cars, 422 box cars, 1 refrigerator car, 12 ice cars, 38 stock cars, 13 automobile cars, 48 furniture cars, 175 flat cars, 235 coal cars, 5 cabooses, and 40 service cars.

In the 1980s the WR of A and the A&WP were absorbed into the Seaboard System Railroad.

WR of A railcar at a restaurant in Vinings, Georgia.

Suggested Reading:

Robert H. Hanson. The West Point Route: The Atlanta & West Point Rail Road and The Western Railway of Alabama. Lynchburg, VA: TLC Publishing, 2007.

Maps and Timetables:

1868 map of West Point, Columbus, and Opelika area (177K)

1935 map (36K)

1906 timetable (266K)

1969 map (80K)

WR of A railcar at Vinings..

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