The western entrance to the Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel in Tunnel Hill, Georgia. This is the way we entered. September 1, 2012.
(Note: All pictures may be enlarged by clicking on them.)
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On the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, Betsy attended another pre-wedding event for her future daughter-in-law in Dalton, Georgia. While Betsy was partying, her son Jeff and I visited the historic Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel in nearby Tunnel Hill, Georgia.
The interior of the tunnel, showing the layers of rock the workers had to cut through. September 1, 2012.
The tunnel was built to connect the port of Augusta, Georgia, and the Tennessee River Valley. The tunnel is 1,477 feet long through the base of Chetoogeta Mountain, and it was designed to be the first railroad across the Appalachian Mountains.
Another view of the rock inside the Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel. September 1, 2012.
Construction of the tunnel began in 1848, and the first Western & Atlantic train passed through the tunnel on May 9, 1850. The town of Tunnel Hill sprang up during construction of the tunnel, and after the tunnel was completed Atlanta became one of the railway’s major hubs.
The railroad tunnel played a part in several Civil War events, including the Great Locomotive Chase and the 1864 Battle of Tunnel Hill.
After the Civil War larger train cars got stuck in the tunnel several times, which led to the building of a larger, parallel tunnel. The railroad stopped using the historic tunnel in 1928.
The eastern entrance of the tunnel, 1477 feet from the western entrance. Tunnel Hill, Georgia. September 1, 2012.
The tunnel suffered neglect for about 70 years, but in 1992 steps were taken to preserve and rehabilitate the old tunnel. It was opened to the public in 2000 in time to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first train passing through.
The ceiling of the tunnel. The black is soot from the wood- and coal-burning engines that traveled through the tunnel. September 1, 2012.
I couldn’t take my tripod into the tunnel, so most of the interior photos are not very good. But it was fascinating to walk through the tunnel and remember that it was built with hand tools.