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Atlanta and West Point Lima built 2-8-2 No. 425.
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Atlanta and West Point Lima built 2-8-2 No. 425.

The Atlanta and West Point Rail Road
The Atlanta and West Point Rail Road (reporting mark AWP) was a railroad in the U.S. state of Georgia, forming the east portion of the Atlanta-Selma West Point Route. The company was chartered in 1847 as the Atlanta and LaGrange Rail Road and renamed in 1857; construction of the 5 ft gauge line was begun in 1849-50 and completed in May 1854. A large minority interest owned by the Georgia Railroad and Banking Company eventually passed under the control of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad (ACL), which later acquired a majority of the stock. Through the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad (SCL), successor to the ACL, the A&WP came under the Family Lines System banner in 1972, and in June 1986 it was merged into the Seaboard System Railroad, successor to the SCL. The former A&WP property is now owned by CSX Transportation.

In 1967 A&WP reported 232 million revenue ton-miles of freight and 3 million passenger-miles on 93 miles of road operated.

The AWP and the Western Railway of Alabama had financial backing from the parent company of the Georgia Railroad and Banking Company, and from 1886 onward the AWP and the Western operated essentially as one railroad under the name "West Point Route". In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the three were controlled through joint lease by the Central of Georgia Railroad and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad (through assignment by its majority owner, the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad). The CofG sold its interest in 1944. The lines eventually fell under the control of the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad, which was the result of a merger between the Atlantic Coast Line and the Seaboard Air Line. All of these lines plus the Clinchfield Railroad became the Family Lines System in the 1970s, though all the lines maintained separate corporate identities. Those identities became "fallen flags" when the group was renamed Seaboard System Railroad (SBD), and in 1986 SBD merged with Chessie System to form CSX Transportation.

The former AWP line remains in full service today, although passenger service ended on January 7, 1970, 16 months before Amtrak was formed to handle the nation's long-distance passenger trains. (The Central of Georgia's Man o' War continued to operate for several more months over the A&WP rail line.) The Atlanta & West Point name came to an end in June 1986, when the railroad company was absorbed by the Seaboard System.

One of AWP's most notable steam locomotives, heavy Pacific AWP 290, survived and was restored to operational status in 1989. The 290 pulled steam excursions around Atlanta from 1989 to 1992 for the "New Georgia Railroad," including a special excursion from Atlanta to Montgomery along the original West Point Route.

List of stations

These stations existed as of 1867:

Name - Miles - Notes
East Point - 7
Fairburn - 19
Palmetto - 25 - completed on March 17, 1851
Powells - 33
Newnan - 39 - completed on September 9, 1851
Grantville - 51- completed on June 1, 1852
Hogansville - 58
LaGrange - 71- completed in February, 1853
Long Cane - 80 - Off Long Cane Road
West Point - 86 - completed on May 15, 1854

Trains departed from Atlanta at 12:15PM and arrived there at 8:37AM. West Point was the connecting point further west via the Montgomery and West Point Railroad.

Atlanta and West Point 290

Atlanta and West Point 290 is a steam locomotive built in 1926 by the Lima Locomotive Works for the Atlanta and West Point Railroad. The engine is a 4-6-2 Heavy Pacific-type steam locomotive, remarkably similar to Southern Railway's Ps-4s class. With sister locomotive No. 190 built for the Western Railway of Alabama, the 290 pulled the Crescent passenger train from Atlanta, Georgia, to Montgomery, Alabama, until the engine's retirement from revenue-producing service in 1954.

290 entered service for the West Point Route in 1926, pulling the Crescent from Atlanta, Georgia, to Montgomery, Alabama.

When it was taken out of service in 1954, fans of 290 established the "290 Club" which succeeded in persuading the Atlanta and West Point Railroad to preserve the locomotive rather than sell her for scrap. 290 remained on immobile display for several years before she was donated to the Atlanta Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society in 1961.

In the late 1980s, the New Georgia Railroad, an Atlanta-based steam excursion railroad, needed another locomotive and 290 was quickly restored. Under her own steam again for the first time in 1989, 290 pulled regular excursions in the Atlanta vicinity and made several longer excursions to other cities including a historic trip to Montgomery in 1992.

In 1991, 290 was sent to the Norris Yard Steam Shop in Irondale, Alabama, for running-gear maintenance work to resolve hot-running bearings. Shortly thereafter, the New Georgia Railroad stopped operating steam locomotives when the state government discontinued its funding. 290 operated for the last time under steam in 1992.

As of 2012, 290 was undergoing preservation at the Southeastern Railway Museum. As there were no plans for a complete operational overhaul of 290, she would probably be placed on display.

The locomotive was the subject of Pentrex's New Georgia Steam Excursions: A&WP #290, a film appealing to rail fans covering a ceremonial run between Atlanta and Montgomery over 290's home rails.

See also:

Southeastern Railway Museum:

Georgia Railroad

Atlantic Coast Line

Railroads of the U.S.A.