Historic Markers Across Georgia

Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel

Marker ID: GHM 155-36
Location: At railroad crossing at Oak St in Tunnel Hill
County: Whitfield
Coordinates: N 34° 50.407    W 085° 2.587
  34.8401085    -85.04310901
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WM6213
Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel Marker  


The 1447 foot long Chetoogeta Mountain railroad tunnel is one&-half mile east of this marker. Tunnel was completed in1850 and this opened the W & A R R 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 storey 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 Grey was Chief Mason. Gray was given the headings were driven through on October 31, 1849. The tunnel was in use until larger locomotives and loads necessitated a larger tunnel in 1928.

The tunnel played a role in one of the most colorful exploits of the Civil War. The Great Locomotives Chase, James J. Andrews and his band of Union "engines thieves" raced the stolen General through the tunnel closely pursued by the Texas, under Wm. Fuller, and Confederate forces.