Birmingham & Pratt Mines Railroad

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The Birmingham & Pratt Mines Railroad was an industrial railroad constructed by the Pratt Coal and Coke Company beginning in 1878. It was about 6.5 miles long, connecting the Pratt Mines on the eastern edge of the Warrior Coal Field to the Alabama & Chattanooga Railroad and Louisville & Nashville Railroad in Birmingham. The completion of the line in 1879 established a reliable supply of coal to downtown foundries and helped reinvigorate hopes for an industrial boom in Birmingham. Henry DeBardeleben's Alice Furnace, the Birmingham Rolling MIlls and Linn Iron Works were all constructed adjacent to the Birmingham & Pratt Mines track.

Enoch Ensley purchased the Pratt Company and its railroad along with the Alice Furnace and Linn Iron Works in 1882, reorganizing as the Pratt Coal & Iron Company. He sold his interests to the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company in 1886 and was installed as its president. The company immediately began constructing new furnaces at the Ensley Works and expanding coal mining operations.

By 1887 the company's railroad, now paralleled by the Kansas City, Memphis & Birmingham Railroad, had been extended to Ensley to supply the new furnaces. Additional westward expansion occurred after TCI's acquisition of the DeBardeleben Coal & Iron Company, Cahaba Coal Mining Company and Excelsior Mining Company in 1892. The line now stretched from Birmingham to Bessemer with connections to several coal mines. The railroad also assumed operation of the Cahaba Company's Woodstock & Blocton Railroad.

The Tennessee Company spun its railroad operations out into a separate corporation, the Birmingham Southern Railroad, in February 1899. TCI and BSRR were taken over by U. S. Steel in 1907.


  • Mele, Ronald Gregory (2000) Birmingham Southern Railroad Company: The First Century. 2nd ed. Rail Images/Craftsman Printing