DALTON, Georgia — Dalton has been a critical rail junction from the earliest days of railroad history.
The Western & Atlantic Railroad was built through the area in the 1840s. The Western & Atlantic built the Dalton depot in 1852 as a combination passenger and freight depot. For many years, a restaurant occupied the historic building.
The East Tennessee & Georgia Railroad was built between Dalton and Knoxville, Tennessee, between 1847 and 1859. In 1870, the Selma, Rome & Dalton Railroad completed its line to Dalton, connecting to Blue Mountain, Alabama.
The East Tennessee & Georgia and the Selma, Rome & Dalton Railroad were later folded into the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad. In 1894, the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia and the Richmond & Danville Railroad merged to create the Southern Railway.
During World War I, following an act of Congress, the federal government took control of the nation’s railroads on December 28, 1917. The action had a minimal practical effect on the Western & Atlantic.
Between Dalton and Phelps, five miles to the south, the Western & Atlantic paralleled the Southern Railway. The feds installed switches and ran the section as a double-track line for both the Southern and Western & Atlantic.
The United States Railroad Administration maintained operations until March 1, 1920, when railroads nationwide returned to their owners.