W&A Railroad Tunnel Restoration Project
The historic tunnel was completed in 1850. The tunnel at Chetoogeta Mountain allowed the shipment of goods by rail between the southern Atlantic Coast and the Ohio and Tennessee River Valleys. Atlanta, thereby, became a strategic shipping point as the first aggregating point of commerce that connected the southern coastal cities such as Charleston and Savannah with the Midwest.
The tunnel at Tunnel Hill is the only historical resource of its kind in Georgia and one of only a few such tunnels in the United States that date to the 19th century. Perhaps no other single transportation facility, prior to the age of aviation, has had more of an impact on the economic development of Georgia than this tunnel. The tunnel was used until 1928 when a new tunnel was constructed approximately 100 feet from the old one.
The tunnel represents one of the first railroad tunnels constructed in the world. The first such railroad tunnel was constructed in Germany in 1840.
During the Civil War, the tunnel area was the scene of much military activity in September 1863 and in May 1864. General Sherman made his headquarters within a few hundred yards of the tunnel as he planned and executed the first phase of the Atlanta Campaign. The Great Locomotive Chase of 1862 ended at Tunnel Hill after Andrews Raiders ran out of fuel.
The project included stabilization and rehabilitation to the tunnel, landscaping, an interpretive facility and outdoor kiosks to explain the historical significance and technical details of the tunnel's construction and use. The appearance of the tunnel has been restored to substantially that of its original construction. Gouge marks, soot stains, evidence of original shoring struts and other features have been undisturbed by the work. Even an original marble plaque stolen from the site several years ago was returned when publicity of the project raised awareness.