Built and owned by the State of Georgia, the Western & Atlantic Railroad was constructed between 1841-1850. Costing a staggering five million dollars for the time, the Western & Atlantic established itself as an integral link of multiple railroads which connected ports along the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River.
Given its isolation, the first locomotive for the train had to be literally carted in pieces, delivered piece-meal, and assembled on the tracks of the new railroad line.
At the inception of the Civil War, the Western & Atlantic Railroad had grown to a total of 46 wood burning locomotives. The railroad itself played an important role in the Confederacy, providing key transportation logistics and delivery of materiel for the war effort.
Its strategic loss during the Atlanta Campaign dealt a serious blow to the Confederacy, and by some historians’ accounts, was a key contributor to the eventual downfall of the South. As with much of the South’s key infrastructure, the railroad was heavily damaged during the war.
After the Civil War, the line was repaired and passed through the hands of several railroad conglomerates. Interestingly, during the life of this important railroad, the State of Georgia has continuously held title and simply leased it out.
Presently, CSX Transportation possesses a long-term lease for the line from the State of Georgia.
Below are two Western & Atlantic Rail Road notes. The first specimen is a 25-cent note and is in VF-30 grade. The second, a 50-cent note, is in VF-20 grade.
Notes and Sources
Building the Western and Atlantic Railroad, About North Georgia, Golden Ink, ©1994
Route of the Western and Atlantic Railroad, About North Georgia, Golden Ink, ©1994
The Mountain Campaigns in Georgia / War Scenes on the W.&A., Joseph M. Brown, The Matthews-Northrup Co., 1895
The Library of Congress Digital Archives