Bay Line Railroad

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Bay Line Railroad
Bay Line Railroad logo.png
Reporting mark BAYL
Locale Florida Panhandle and southeastern Alabama
Dates of operation 1994–
Predecessor Atlanta & Saint Andrews Bay Railroad
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length 103 miles (166 km)
Headquarters Panama City, Florida
Bay Line woodchip car

The Bay Line Railroad (reporting mark BAYL) is one of several short line railroad companies owned by Genesee & Wyoming Inc. It operates between Panama City, Florida, and Dothan, Alabama, including a branch from Grimes to Abbeville, Alabama, reached via trackage rights on CSX's Dothan Subdivision between Dothan and Grimes. The line interchanges with CSX's P&A Subdivision at Cottondale, Florida, and their Dothan Subdivision at the trackage rights section near Dothan, Alabama. It also interchanges with the Chattahoochee Bay Railroad in Dothan.

A wide variety of commodities are carried, including aggregates, brick, cement, chemicals, coal, food and feed products, forest products, metallic ores and minerals, steel, and scrap.[1]


An old logo for the line, which sent Pullman sleeping cars from Panama City to Atlanta, Georgia by handing them over to the Central of Georgia Railway in Dothan.

Constructed beginning in 1906 as the Atlanta & St. Andrews Bay Railway (reporting mark ASAB) the railroad completed its mainline between Dothan and Panama City in 1908 for a distance of 82 miles (132 km).[2] Connections were made with three Class I railroads; the Louisville & Nashville, the Central of Georgia, and the Atlantic Coast Line.

Early years[edit]

As with many railroads in the region, the A&SAB began in the minds of timber investors and land developers seeking to access the agricultural resources of the Florida Panhandle and South Alabama. Chief among them was A. B. Steele, who created the railroad on February 14, 1906[2] to build south out of Dothan towards the Gulf Coast.[3] The railroad was completed on July 15, 1908, and Panama City was incorporated the following year at the terminus of the line. Plans were soon made to extend the railroad north to Atlanta, however financial difficulties and pressure from the Central of Georgia railroad put an end to any plans for extension.[4]

Later, the railroad came under the control of Minor C. Keith of the United Fruit Company. Control of the railroad was maintained until 1931, after which it was purchased by International Paper. After acquiring the railroad, International Paper constructed a paper mill near Panama City and upgraded the railroad to handle traffic generated by the new plant.[4]

World War II brought about a considerable increase in traffic on the A&SAB. Several military bases in the vicinity of Panama City ensured the Bay Line would remain a hotbed of activity for the duration of the war. Shortly after the war in 1947, the A&SAB was granted Class I status.[4]

Post-war era[edit]

TOFC service began in 1962 with the construction of ramps at Panama City and Cottondale. Additional expansion came with the construction of a branch line to Graceville in 1971. In 1979 International Paper sold the railroad to Southwest Forest Industries, and the railroad changed hands again with the sale of Southwest Forest Industries to the Stone Container Corporation in 1987.[4]

In 1989, Stone Container Corporation purchased from CSX Transportation a branch line from Grimes to Abbeville, Alabama. The new railroad, the Abbeville-Grimes Railway Company, was operated by the A&SAB.[5] The next change came when the line was sold effective January 1, 1994 to Rail Management Corporation and officially renamed the Bay Line Railroad.[6]

On May 26, 2005, it was announced that all assets of Rail Management Corporation were to be bought by Genesee and Wyoming, Inc. with an effective date of June 1, 2005. The Bay Line Railroad was included in this purchase.[7]

Graceville branch[edit]

Construction of the branch spanning 7 miles (11 km) from Campbellton, Florida to Graceville was completed on July 14, 1971.[5] Graceville was located at the terminus of the Georgiana branch of the Louisville & Nashville railroad. This allowed for interchange between the two railroads and access to a Southwest Forest Industries woodchip mill located in Graceville that supplied the Panama City paper mill. In addition to the woodchip mill, Gold Kist operated a peanut mill in Graceville.[4]

The Louisville & Nashville abandoned their line into Graceville on January 16, 1984.[8] The Bay Line purchased the small yard and wye track in Graceville from the vacating L&N and continued serving the city.[4] Declining traffic prompted the abandonment of the branch by the mid 1990s.

Abbeville branch[edit]

Stone Container Corporation purchased the line between Grimes and Abbeville on March 1, 1989.[6] The primary source of traffic is a woodchip mill near Abbeville, which provides woodchips for the Panama City paper mill. The Bay Line accesses the Abbeville & Grimes branch via trackage rights with CSX between Grimes and Dothan.[3] On January 1, 1994 Stone Container Corporation sold the Bay Line railroad to Rail Management Corporation. Included in the sale was the 27 miles (43 km) from Abbeville to Grimes.[6] The A&G was formally merged into the Bay Line on June 26, 1996.[9]

Passenger service[edit]

Throughout its history the line's primary business was freight hauling; however, passenger service was available from the line's inception until 1957. Atlanta was reached via trackage rights over the Central of Georgia Railroad, from Dothan, Alabama, via Albany, Georgia, and Macon.

Motive power[edit]

The railroad was an early adopter of diesel power. By 1947, all steam locomotive power was gone from the line. In that same year, the railroad was granted Class 1 railroad status. This had an interesting side effect of making the Bay Line the first Class 1 railroad in the United States to be 100% dieselized.


  1. ^ "Bay Line Railroad". Archived from the original on 2 December 2010. Retrieved 26 November 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Lewis, Edward A. (1986). American Shortline Railway Guide (3 ed.). Kalmbach Publishing Company. p. 25. ISBN 0-89024-073-6. 
  3. ^ a b Nelson, Bruce (2005). "The Bay Line Railroad". The Railroad Press (65): 44–49. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Smiley, Tom (1989). "Modeling the Bay Line Railroad". Prototype Modeler (January/February): 20–27. 
  5. ^ a b Lewis, Edward A. (1991). American Shortline Railway Guide (4 ed.). Kalmbach Publishing Company. pp. 8, 27. ISBN 0-89024-109-0. 
  6. ^ a b c Lewis, Edward A. (1996). American Shortline Railway Guide (5 ed.). Kalmbach Publishing Company. pp. 40–41. ISBN 0-89024-290-9. 
  7. ^ "Genesse & Wyoming to Acquire Assets of Rail Management Corporation". Retrieved 26 November 2010. 
  8. ^ "Alabama Rail Plan 2008". December 2008. pp. Table 4–1. Retrieved 10 September 2010. 
  9. ^ "STB Finance Docket No. 19936". 21 June 1996. Retrieved 27 November 2010. 
  1. ^ United States Railroad Retirement Board, bcd94-72.pdf (PDF).
  2. ^ United States Railroad Retirement Board, bcd94-63.pdf (PDF)
  3. ^ United States Railroad Retirement Board, bcd97-56.pdf (PDF)
  4. ^ United States Railroad Retirement Board, bcd94-106.pdf (PDF)