This wide, paved trail can be used by walkers, bikers, skaters and horses in some areas. The entire 57 miles of trail in Georgia have been completed. Originally, only 37 miles, from Mavell Road in Smyna to downtown Rockmart were done, but increasing support in Polk County made it possible to complete the trail. Since the trail is part of the "rails to trails" project, the grade never exceeds 2%, making it relatively easy no matter what type of power you are using.
For 22 years the Silver Comet serviced the cities of the Great Southern Arc, carrying passengers from the northeast United States (beginning in New York City and including stops in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D. C.) to Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia (including its major stop, Atlanta), finishing its run in Birmingham, Alabama. During the first few years service from New York to Birmingham took 23 hours and was considered to be "luxury class." The route was never a major success, facing growing competition from airplanes and, to a lesser extent, cars.
History of the Silver Comet Started in 1947, at the height of the rail travel era, the Silver Comet sped across the Southeast, connecting many cities with direct rail service on the Seaboard Air Lines. Competing for this traffic was Southern Railways Southerner and Crescent service, both of which had been running for much longer time, on a route that was more direct.
In 1948 the train received national attention. When Strom Thurmond and his Dixiecrat pals walked out of the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, it was the Silver Comet that the group rode to Birmingham, where they held their own convention.
In addition to the Silver Comet, Seaboard also ran the Silver Meteor, the Silver Star and the Orange Blossom Special, and was known as the "Route of Courteous Service."
When passengers failed to materialize in the expected quantities the line slowed the train, first by adding stops where it would haul Florida-bound travelers over some legs, and freight cars on others. By the time service ended in 1969, the Southern Comet was doing workhorse duty for Seaboard Air Lines.
Note: Air Line had nothing to do with air travel. Air line meant a direct (straight) roadbed, as opposed to the "coast line" railroads, which would follow the coast until a major river, then journey inland to narrow point to cross.
Photo of the famed Silver Comet as it travels through Atlanta, Georgia
Although the trail today starts at Mavell Road near the Nickajack Elementary School, eventually, according to Shawn Callahan of The Path Foundation, the Silver Comet Trail will start at the intersection of Northside Drive and Mount Paran Road in northeast Atlanta. While connecting the trail to the other Atlanta trails is a long-term desire of the organization many obstacles lie in the way.
Completed in the west, the Silver Comet Trail runs to the Georgia-Alabama state line where it hooks up with the Chief Ladiga Trail in Alabama. Part of the national Rails to Trails program, the Silver Comet Trail is the most ambitious project under construction in the Southeast.
The original completion date of December, 2002 was not met because of resistance to the project in west Georgia. Both Paulding and Polk Counties failed to embrace the project the same way as Cobb did. To take up the slack grass-root volunteer organizations have sprung up to perform maintenance along the trail.
Seaboard Air Line stops
(from Atlanta to the Georgia-Alabama border):
Cobb County Heading west from the 0.0 mile mark the trail covers 12.8 miles in Cobb County.
Powder Springs Parkway
Hiram (Highway 92)
Dallas Chamber of Commerce
Coot's Lake Road
Van Wert Trailhead
Between Mt. Olivet and Coot's Lake Road is the majestic Brushy Mountain Tunnel. Built in 1912(?) and abandoned by Seaboard in 1988, the cement casing tunnel is unusually tall for tunnels of the day. Upon further examination the casing appeared modern in construction. A web search indicated that the tunnel was extensively re-worked in 1968 to accommodate the taller cars of the era.
Getting there:The east end of the trail is accessible from I-285, exit 15. Head northwest on Cobb Parkway to Cooper Lake Road, make a left and continue to Mavell Road. Turn left. The entrance is next to Nickajack School. This end is almost always heavily used. For a better all-around experience, we recommend taking I-75 north
to exit 288, Main St. in Cartersville, Georgia. This is also known as Route 113, and it is the most direct (and quickest) route to downtown Rockmart.