By Todd DeFeo
CARTERSVILLE, Ga. – Trains first reached this north Georgia city in 1845 with the completion of the Western & Atlantic Railroad.
Cartersville as a town was incorporated in 1850 and as a city in 1872. The city’s train depot, located in the middle of the square, was completed in 1854, after outgrowing a boxcar that had previously served as the station.
The depot was an important site during the Civil War. In 1864, Confederate troops fortified the depot by knocking out bricks to make gun ports. During the war, both the floor and the roof were burned.
Additions were made to the depot in 1902, but much of the building was razed in 1972. The remaining portion serves as the home to the Cartersville Welcome Center and the Downtown Development Authority.
In addition to the Western & Atlantic Railroad, the town was served by the Cartersville and Van Wert Railroad, which was to connect with the Selma, Rome and Dalton Railroad at Prior, Ga., near the Alabama state line. Chartered in 1866, by 1870, the railroad managed to build only 14 miles to Taylorsville, Ga. Complicated by sketchy financial deadlines, the railroad reorganized as the Cherokee Railroad.
In 1866, officials proposed Cartersville and Gainesville Air Line. Though the name changed over the next few years, the proposed line never came to fruition.
Later, the Atlanta, Knoxville & Northern started building a line between Cartersville and Knoxville. The line was to replace the existing Marietta and North Georgia line, known as the “Hook and Eye Line.”
The main line through downtown today is operated by CSX and as many as 60 trains pass through the city daily.