Atlanta & Birmingham Air Line Railway

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The Atlanta and Birmingham Air Line Railway (A&BAL) was formed when the Seaboard Air Line Railroad (SAL) purchased the capital stock of the bankrupt East & West Railroad of Alabama (E&W) on April 23, 1902.

The E&W Railroad had already established a line from Cartersville, Georgia, to Pell City, through the cities of Rockmart and Cedartown, Georgia, and Piedmont. The SAL merged the existing E&W trackage into its main line, and, under its A&BAL subsidiary, began extending it toward Birmingham and Howells, in northwestern Atlanta, where it built its Georgia Division offices.

In Birmingham the A&BAL made connections with the Louisville & Nashville Railroad (L&N), the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway (Frisco) and the Illinois Central Railroad (IC). The new line entered the downtown area along 1st Avenue South, south of the established Railroad Reservation. As it had to contend with existing viaduct ramps, the new line was dug into a depressed corridor in the middle of the street. The Seaboard Air Line Railroad opened a freight depot at the corner of 20th Street South and 1st Avenue South. Freight service to Birmingham began on December 5, 1904, with passenger service established by July 2, 1905. The company's local offices were located on the 5th floor of the First National Bank Building. The Jefferson Construction Company contracted with the A&BAL to construct dozens of depots and section houses along the railroad's route.

The Atlanta & Birmingham Air Line Railway was absorbed into the main Seaboard Air Line Railroad in 1909. That same year the company began rebuilding much of the old E&W track, eliminating 6 miles by straightening curves and regrading. It also lined its three tunnels with concrete.

The Seaboard line's first tunnels were constructed as part of the A&BAL, including the Bushy Mountain Tunnel near Braswell, Georgia; the Hardwick Tunnel between Odenville and Wattsville; and the Roper Tunnel near Trussville.

SAL's successor line, CSX, eventually took much of the former A&BAL out of service. Much of the east Alabama and west Georgia trackage, including the Bushy Mountain Tunnel, has been converted into recreational trails, including the Chief Ladiga Trail in Alabama and the Silver Comet Trail in Georgia.

A 69-mile segment between Wellington and Boyles Yard, including the Hardwick and Roper Tunnels, continued to be operated as the southern half of the Alabama & Tennessee River Railway (ATN), now part of the OmniTRAX rail network.