Originally called the East and West Railroad of Alabama, the Atlanta and Birmingham Air Line Railway was formed when the Seaboard Air Line Railroad purchased the capital stock of the Bankrupt E&W on April 23, 1902 and merged it to a new SAL subsidiary the A&BAL in1903. With connecting additions on each end of the existing E&W line,a 37-mile extension from Coal city (renamed Wattsville)to Birmingham Ala.and a 43-mile connection from Howells to Rockmart Ga,along with the construction of several steel trestles, and the boring of the only 3 tunnels on the entire Seaboard railroad,all located on the Birmingham line,Divide tunnel located east of Rockmart Ga.Hardwick tunnel between Wattsville and Odenville Ala.and Roper tunnel west of Irondale Ala.all were concrete lined and totaled 2,964 ft in length.the rebuilding of the Original E&W line also included straightening of curves on the existing trackage, requiring deep cuts through granite rock, resulting in the removal of over 6 miles of circuitous trackage. in 1904 the A&BAL reached Birmingham, AL where it interchanged with the Louisville & Nashville (L&N), the St Louis - San Francisco (Frisco) and the Illinois Central Railroads, and Howells, GA (located in Northwest Atlanta),which became the location of the Seaboard Georgia division offices,and a switching yard and Locomotive servicing and repair shop. The line opened for freight traffic on December 5, 1904 and passenger service July 2, 1905. SAL fully absorbed the A&BAL in 1909.the Atlanta-Birmingham line was closed by successor Railroad CSX in 1988. A large portion of the former right of way just west of Atlanta to the Ala.border is now part of the Silver Comet biking and walking trail.
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