Birmingham Belt Railway

Kalmbach Publishing Co. Used with permission. This article originally appeared in the October, 1991 Model Railroader.

View 1935 Rail Map of Birmingham's Downtown

Birmingham's Elyton Land Company had to create a great deal of infrastructure for "their" new City.  One of their projects was to build a "steam dummy line" from Downtown to Highland Avenue.  Subsequently there was also a freight component to this railroad.


At a point in time it was decided that the two components, passenger and freight would have to be separated.  The freight component became the Birmingham Belt Railway.  Years later, this line was acquired by the Frisco Railroad which in turn became part of today's BNSF.


The Belt line operated out of  small terminal south of the railroad reservation at 15th St S and Avenue E and generally encircled the business district of Birmingham.  Sanborn Map Image


Eventually the Frisco operated the remainder of the Belt.  As changes occurred to the rail system in downtown and customers became fewer, the Frisco operations became ever smaller.


In 1991, Model Railroader magazine published an article about the last vestiges of Frisco's street operations.  It is an interesting closure, so to speak, to an interesing part of Birmingham's railroad history.


Click on the map to view the MR article in a new window.




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