The Silver Comet Trail was built over an abandoned rail line in northwest Georgia. At the state line, it connects to the Chief Ladiga Trail in northeast Alabama. Both trails were built on connected rail lines that carried passengers and freight throughout the southeastern United States.
- 1897 - Original rail line
- (the original brick tunnel still exists under Brushy Mt. Road just north of the current Silver Comet Tunnel)
- 1947 - 1969 - Silver Comet passenger service
- 1989 - CSX Railroad discontinued over 37 miles of rail in Cobb, Paulding, and Polk counties
- 1992 - Abandoned rail line purchased by Georgia DOT
- Cobb County leased rail line from GDOT for non-motorized tail use
- 1998 - Trail construction started in Smyrna, Cobb County
- The first section of trail was very popular and is still the busiest part of the trail
- 2008 - Silver Comet Construction is complete, and the trail is fully paved by August 2008
The Silver Comet Trail was named after the Silver Comet passenger train. The Silver Comet passenger train was introduced by the Seaboard Air Line Railroad in 1947, and during the height of rail travel, the trains consisted of sleek passenger, sleeper, dining, and observation cars. People could travel locally as well as connect to other rail lines and travel to to the big cities in the north, tour areas in Florida to the south, and visit neighboring states to the west.
Passengers enjoyed luxury accommodations as well as friendly service and still speak about the very scenic route. The Silver Comet traveled through small towns, thick forests, and open farmlands. Some passengers said they would take local rides for fun, and that they remember parts of the trail along with the local depots. Though the train is gone, many former passengers are thrilled to be able to relive the beauty of the original train route while enjoying nostalgic memories.
When rail travel declined, the Silver Comet discontinued the sleeper, dining, and observation cars. The train started to carry freight along with passengers and eventually only carried freight. The Silver Comet Trail section of rail line closed in 1989.
In 1992, The Georgia Department of Transportation bought the closed rail line that ran through Cobb, Paulding, and Polk counties from CSX. The GDOT wanted the rail line for future transit expansion, and though it was decided to make the former rail line a multi-use non-motorized trail, future transit use is a possibility. Cobb leased their 12.8-mile section of trail from the GDOT, started construction in Smyrna in 1998, and completed construction in 2008.
The PATH Foundation and GRITS were key players in the creation of the Silver Comet Trail and helped to coordinate the monumental efforts between the Georgia DOT, Cobb County, Paulding County, Polk County, and cities along the trail. Today, the PATH Foundation is a critical player in creating an interconnected trail system throughout Georgia.
More Silver Comet Train History
History of the American Rail-Trails