The tunnel through Chetoogeta Mountain in Tunnel Hill, Ga.
The tunnel through Chetoogeta Mountain in Tunnel Hill, Ga.

TUNNEL HILL, Ga. — Like so many other North Georgia towns, Tunnel Hill grew along the Western & Atlantic Railroad.

The railroad was authorized on Dec. 21, 1836, by the Georgia state Legislature. It was intended to connect Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tenn. However, to complete the road, a tunnel through the Chetoogeta Mountain in North Georgia would have to be built.

Construction of the tunnel began on July 15, 1848, and the first train passed through the 1,447-foot long passageway on May 9, 1850. As work on the tunnel progressed, the town of Tunnel Hill grew up and in 1850 a train depot was erected.

In 1926, work on a second, larger tunnel began. The new tunnel opened two years later and rail traffic no longer used the historic 1850 tunnel.

On May 9, 2000, the 1850 tunnel reopened to commemorate the passageway’s 150th anniversary.

On April 12, 1862, members of the Andrews Raid passed through the tunnel, which was a primary target of the mission. However, because of a pursuing party, the raiders were unable to destroy the tunnel. A historical marker nearby the tunnel commemorates the raid.

Tunnel Hill Timeline

  • 1836: Georgia state Legislature authorizes the Western & Atlantic Railroad
  • July 15, 1848: Work begins on a tunnel through the Chetoogeta Mountain
  • Oct. 31, 1848: at 11 p.m., workers completed the first opening and brought about a night of celebration
  • 1850: Historic train depot
  • May 9, 1850: The first train passes through the tunnel, completing the rail link between Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tenn.
  • April 12, 1862: The Andrews Raid passes through the tunnel
  • 1926: Work begins on a second, larger tunnel
  • Dec. 17, 1928: A larger, more modern tunnel opens and the historical 1850 tunnel closes
  • May 9, 2000: The historical 1850 tunnel opens to commemorate its 150th anniversary