The Roswell Railroad

This post gathers the information I’ve been able to find about the Roswell Railroad, one of the almost-completely vanished and forgotten rail lines of the Atlanta area. This was branch of Southern Railway that operated between Chamblee and Roswell from 1881 to 1921.

According to

The Roswell Railroad Company was incorporated in Georgia in 1879 as successor to the Atlanta & Roswell Railroad Company. It was controlled by the Atlanta & Charlotte Air-Line Railroad Company, which constructed the 10-mile, 3-foot gauge line and opened it for business on September 1, 1881. In the same year, the A&CAL was leased to the Richmond & Danville Railroad (which became Southern Railway in 1894).


The town of Chamblee was originally called “Roswell Junction”.

However, feeling the name of the settlement was too similar to nearby Roswell, they randomly selected Chamblee from a list of petitioners for the new post office name.

The railroad followed very roughly the present-day Chamblee-Dunwoody Road to the center of old-town Dunwoody, where the building located at 5518 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road was a section house.


The original Dunwoody depot was later moved and used as “Thompson’s Store”, but this building no longer remains.

(from Narrow Gauge Discussion Forum)

The line never actually reached Roswell, as the company was never able to build a bridge across the Chattahoochee. It ran along Roberts Drive and what is now Dunwoody Place, and ended near the present North River Tavern. This station was referred to as “Roswell” by the railroad. The engine house was “moved to by the river for use as a barn”.

Roberts Drive is named after Isaac “Ike” Roberts, the “only engineer of the Roswell Railroad”, whose house still stands at 9725 Roberts Drive.

The final stop was Roswell Station, on the south bank of the Chattahoochee River, just east of the current Roswell Road. There was no means to turn the locomotive around, so it simply ran backwards on its return trip. The train was powered by 0-6-0-arranged Baldwin 1878 steam locomotive named “Buck.”

(from Historic Roswell Georgia)

There was also a branch to the current location of Morgan Falls Dam.

The railroad famously was used by Teddy Roosevelt when he visited Bulloch Hall in 1905.

Theodore Roosevelt, who had begun his presidency on reasonably good terms for a half-northerner president, had infuriated the South by inviting Booker T. Washington to dine in the White House. Consequently, he waited a few years until the episode blew over and finally visited Bulloch Hall for the first time while touring the South in 1905. He was thought to be the first sitting President of the United States to visit the South since the end of the American Civil War, however this is incorrect as William McKinley had visited the South earlier while celebrating the victory of the Spanish–American War.

(from Narrow Gauge Discussion Forum)


It looks like I need to be paying a visit to the Roswell Visitors Center.


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