Atlanta and St. Andrews Bay Railroad 4-6-2 number 131, photographed at Panama City on April 20, 1939. The engine was originally Florida East Coast Railway No. 131. It was acquired by Atlanta & St. Andrews Bay in October, 1935; sold in May 1948. Diameter of driving wheels: 68".  Cylinders (diameter and stroke): 22" x 26".  Year built: 1917. Builder: Schenectady, const. no. 57545(State Archives of Florida)


ASAB herald.


"The Bay Line"

The Atlanta and St. Andrews Bay Railroad (reporting mark ASAB), also known as the Bay Line, was a Class I railroad which operated in Alabama and Florida. The company was founded in 1906 and opened its mainline between Dothan, Alabama, and Panama City, Florida, in 1908. Later reclassified as a short-line railroad, its assets were acquired by the Bay Line Railroad in 1994.


Atlanta & St. Andrews Bay Railway 2-8-2 No. 403 at Panama City, Florida, ca. 1940-49. Year built: October 1906. Builder: Schenectady Locomotive Works, const. no. 40987. Originally: NYC No. 2824, 2-8-0, it was rebuilt by Brooks November 1915 to 2-8-2 for NYC No. 3868, No. 1324. Later to Atlanta & St. Andrews Bay No. 403, in 1937. Afterwards to Republic Steel for scrap May 1948 but traded to TAG for TAG No. 304. It was never put into service by TAG. (State Archives of Florida)



As with many railroads in the region, the A&SAB began in the minds of timber investors and land developers seeking to access the agricultural resources of the Florida Panhandle and South Alabama. Chief among them was A. B. Steele, who created the railroad to build south out of Dothan towards the Gulf Coast. The company incorporated on February 14, 1906, and opened its 82-mile (132 km) line between Dothan and Panama City on July 15, 1908. Panama City was incorporated the following year at the terminus of the line. Plans were soon made to extend the railroad north to Atlanta, however financial difficulties and pressure from the Central of Georgia railroad put an end to any plans for extension.

World War II brought about a considerable increase in traffic on the A&SAB. Several military bases in the vicinity of Panama City ensured the Bay Line would remain a hotbed of activity for the duration of the war. Shortly after the war in 1947, the A&SAB was granted Class I status. The company offered sleeper and coach passenger train service nightly between Panama City and Atlanta Union Station via Albany and Macon. The trains went over Central of Georgia Railway tracks from Dothan, Alabama, to Atlanta. At some point between 1955 and 1956 A&StA terminated all passenger service --coach and sleeping car service.

TOFC service began in 1962 with the construction of ramps at Panama City and Cottondale. Additional expansion came with the construction of a branch line to Graceville in 1971. In 1979 International Paper sold the railroad to Southwest Forest Industries, and the railroad changed hands again with the sale of Southwest Forest Industries to the Stone Container Corporation in 1987.

In 1989, Stone Container Corporation purchased from CSX Transportation a branch line from Grimes to Abbeville, Alabama. The new railroad, the Abbeville-Grimes Railway Company, was operated by the A&SAB. On January 1, 1994, the Rail Management Corporation acquired the assets of the railroad and created a new company, the Bay Line Railroad, to operate it.


Atlanta and St. Andrews Bay Railroad 4-6-0 No. 120, ca. 1915. Builder: Baldwin Locomotive Works, const. No. 39187. Diameter of driving wheels: 56". Cylinders (diameter and stroke) : 18" x 24". (State Archives of Florida)


Graceville branch

Construction of the branch spanning 7 miles (11 km) from Campbellton, Florida, to Graceville was completed on July 14, 1971. Graceville was located at the terminus of the Georgiana branch of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. This allowed for interchange between the two railroads and access to a Southwest Forest Industries woodchip mill located in Graceville that supplied the Panama City paper mill. In addition to the woodchip mill, Gold Kist operated a peanut mill in Graceville.

The Seaboard System Railroad, successor to the Louisville and Nashville, abandoned the line into Graceville on January 16, 1984. The A&SAB purchased the small yard and wye track in Graceville from the vacating Seaboard and continued serving the city. Declining traffic prompted the abandonment of the branch by the mid 1990s.

Atlanta and St. Andrews Bay Railroad No. 142 pulling passenger train No. 4 out of Panama City in 1942.

(State Archives of Florida)


Abbeville branch

Main article: Abbeville–Grimes Railway Company
Stone Container Corporation purchased the line between Grimes and Abbeville on March 1, 1989. The primary source of traffic is a woodchip mill near Abbeville, which provides woodchips for the Panama City paper mill. The Bay Line accessed the Abbeville & Grimes branch via trackage rights with CSX between Grimes and Dothan. The Abbeville branch was included in the sale to the Bay Line Railroad. The A&G was formally merged into the Bay Line on June 26, 1996.


Bay Line 500 performing switching duties at Panama City, FL on July 11, 1977. Photo courtesy Mary Jayne Rowe. Click to enlarge. (© Mary Jayne's Railroad Specialties, Inc. Fair use, Title 17, Section 107)

An elaborate A&StAB logo advertising passenger services. (© The Bay Line via Wikimedia Commons. Fair Use.)


Bay Line No. 508, an EMD GP38-2. Photo courtesy Mary Jayne Rowe. (© Mary Jayne's Railroad Specialties, Inc. Fair use, Title 17, Section 107)


Reporting mark: ASAB
Locale: Alabama and Florida
Dates of operation: 1906–1994
Successor: Bay Line Railroad
Track gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)


Atlanta and St. Andrews Bay Railroad 0-6-0 No. 206. Photographed at Panama City on September 28, 1940.

(State Archives of Florida)


See Also:

Railroads A-Z


Atlanta and St. Andrews Bay Railroad GP38 No. 511 in Panama City, FL, 1987.

(Gary Todd from Xinzheng, China, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)