AT&N Railroad and Aliceville

 

    The railroads have always played a vital role in the activities of Aliceville and surrounding vicinity.  Aliceville even gets its name from the railroad builder's wife.  In 1900, John T. Cochrane, the head of the Tuscaloosa Belt Railway, began building a railroad from Reform to Carrollton.  It was called the Carrollton Short Line and by 1902 was in use.  Citizens from the south end of Pickens County urged the railroad officials to extend the line to Bridgeville.  Work was begun and on January 13, 1903 the railroad was completed.  "Alice City" was to be plotted around the terminus of the railroad near the crossing of Fairfield-Carrollton and Bridgeville-Pickensville roads.  The name Alice came from the wife of Mr. John T. Cochrane, the developer of the railroad.  

    By March, 1903, a post office was established, but the name had been changed to Aliceville.  J. A. Somerville was the first postmaster.  In April of the same year, the West Alabamian carried a map of the town calling it "The Commercial Center of the Tombigbee Valley".  Then, as well as now, the railroad has been the single most important asset to the economy of the Aliceville area.  The passenger service has been discontinued in the past few years but in earlier years the train was the most popular way to travel.  The roads were not as good as they are now and everyone did not own an automobile as they do now either.

In March, 1926, the construction of the John T. Milner Bridge over the Tombigbee River was approved.  By April, the extension of the Frisco line was under survey from Amory, Mississippi to Kimbrough, Alabama.  Meanwhile, the Carrollton Short Line had continued southward to connect with the Tombigbee Valley Railroad owned by Cochrane at Ridgewood, Alabama.  The two merged to form the AT&N Railroad which operated from Reform to Calvert, Alabama.

The Frisco line from Amory to Aberdeen, Mississippi was completed in 1926 but work along the Tombigbee was restarted in December by the worst flood since 1892.  Early in 1927, construction was again under way.  In June 1928, a special train from St. Louis carrying Frisco officials passed through Aliceville and on July 4th, the first passenger train over the Frisco lines picked up excursionists from Pensacola at Aliceville.  The same year the AT&N, which had been extended to Mobile, entered a reciprocal traffic agreement with the Frisco.

The railroad has played a great part in our past, is playing a vital part in our present economy, and will continue to be very important in our future.

As you consider the business and industry that use our railroad today, it is evident of its importance.  Pulpwood is carried by railcar, cattle are transported by rail, molasses and liquid animals feed come by railcar.  The chip mill uses the railroad, cars, trucks, farm machinery are shipped by rail.  Cotton and soybeans, as well as corn and other grains use the rail as a method of transportation.  Gasoline and oil products are shipped by rail.  The railroad serves us well.  Our name and our very being are a result of the railroad. 

This article appeared in the Pickens County Herald, the Aliceville newspaper, in 1977.