Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Tunnel Hill in Whitfield County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel

 
 
Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel Marker image. Click for full size.
By David Tibbs, circa 2008
1. Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel Marker
Inscription.  The 1447 foot long Chetoogeta Mountain railroad tunnel is one-half mile east of this marker. The tunnel was completed in 1850 and this opened the W&A RR from Atlanta to Chattanooga. This was the first railroad tunnel completed south of the Mason-Dixon line and linked railroads from the Atlantic to the Mississippi River. The railroad was operating during the late 1840's and goods and passengers were portaged over Chetoogeta Mountain while the tunnel was under construction. A community grew up near the construction activity and Clisby Austin built a three story hotel in 1848. Tunnel Hill was incorporated on March 4, 1848. The W&A was approved by the Georgia Legislature in 1836 and surveyed by Stephen Harriman Long. Construction of the 137 mile line took 13 years and cost more than four million dollars. William L. Mitchell was Chief Engineer and William Gray was Chief Mason. Gray was given the honor of being the first to pass through the tunnel when the two headings were driven through on October 31, 1849. The tunnel was in use until larger locomotives and loads nessitated a larger tunnel in 1928.

The tunnel played a role in one of the
Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, November 19, 2019
2. Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel Marker
most colorful exploits of the Civil War, The Great Locomotive Chase, James J. Andrews and his band of Union "engine thieves" raced the stolen General through the tunnel closely pursued by the Texas, under Wm. Fuller, and Confederate forces.
 
Erected 1992 by Georgia Historical Commission. (Marker Number 155-36.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Railroads & StreetcarsWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Georgia Historical Society series list.
 
Location. 34° 50.391′ N, 85° 2.52′ W. Marker is in Tunnel Hill, Georgia, in Whitfield County. Marker is on Clisby Austin Drive east of Oak Street, on the left when traveling east. Located at the Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel Museum. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 215 Clisby Austin Drive, Tunnel Hill GA 30755, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Clisby Austin House (here, next to this marker); Tunnel Hill (here, next to this marker); Baggage Carts (a few steps from this marker); Tunnel Hill W&A Railroad Depot (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Tunnel Hill (within shouting distance of this marker); The Excavation
Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel marker is on the very right. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, November 19, 2019
3. Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel marker is on the very right.
(approx. 0.4 miles away); Crow Valley (approx. 2.6 miles away); Mill Creek Gap (approx. 2.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Tunnel Hill.
 
Also see . . .
1. The Tunnel Hill Heritage Center. Tours are available through the tunnel. Information can be found on the Heritage Centers website. (Submitted on September 15, 2008, by David Tibbs of Resaca, Georgia.) 

2. Wikipedia entry for the Great Locomotive Chase. (Submitted on October 11, 2008, by David Tibbs of Resaca, Georgia.)
3. Photograph of tunnel through Chetoogeta Mountain, Tunnel Hill, Whitfield County, Georgia, ca. 1905. The tunnel was cut through Chetoogeta Mountain as part of the construction of the Western & Atlantic Railroad which ran from Atlanta to Chattanooga, Tenn. The first train of cars passed through it in 1850. During the Civil War the two locomotives involved in Andrew's Raid passed through the tunnel. The tunnel is no longer in use.
From the Vanishing Georgia website, hosted by the Georgia Division of Archives and History, Office of Secretary of State. (Submitted on February 20, 2009, by David Tibbs of Resaca, Georgia.) 
 
Additional comments.
1. Error in Tunnel Length
Should note that there is an error, which we
Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel Entrance image. Click for full size.
By David Tibbs, 2008
4. Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel Entrance
at the Tunnel Hill Historical Foundation are looking to get corrected, but the tunnel is NOT 1447 feet long, but is 1477 feet long, as noted on the "excavation" marker. Also note that there are two "excavation" markers, the one you have, which is on the west end of the tunnel, and an almost identical one 1477 feet away at the east end, which shows that the excavation from that end was 902 feet and gives the date that excavation began on that end, which, if memory serves, was August 8, 1848, but might be off on the actual day, but it was in August.
    — Submitted May 13, 2010, by Steve Hall of Rocky face, Georgia.
 
Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel Path image. Click for full size.
By David Tibbs, September 7, 2008
5. Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel Path
Inside the Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel image. Click for full size.
By David Tibbs, September 7, 2008
6. Inside the Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel
This is just inside the entrance to the tunnel.
A Safe Place image. Click for full size.
By David Tibbs, 2008
7. A Safe Place
This small brick alcove is just a few feet from the tracks. Workers had to be very alert to their surroundings in the tunnel because, when they heard a train coming, they had very little time to locate and take cover inside one of these small areas. They could fit two adults with ease, three was a squeeze.
Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel Entrance image. Click for full size.
By David Seibert, November 14, 2008
8. Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel Entrance
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on April 27, 2020. It was originally submitted on September 15, 2008, by David Tibbs of Resaca, Georgia. This page has been viewed 3,129 times since then. Last updated on May 11, 2010, by Steve Hall of Rocky face, Georgia. Photos:   1. submitted on September 15, 2008, by David Tibbs of Resaca, Georgia.   2, 3. submitted on November 20, 2019, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.   4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on September 15, 2008, by David Tibbs of Resaca, Georgia.   8. submitted on November 14, 2008, by David Seibert of Sandy Springs, Georgia. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.
Paid Advertisement
Jan. 17, 2021