Building the Silver Comet
Soon after it was abandoned in 1989, various advocacy groups, elected officials, and individuals developed the concept of converting the railroad through Cobb, Paulding, and Polk Counties into a biking and jogging trail. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) purchased the right-of-way as a potential commuter rail corridor and agreed to interim use as a trail.
In 1998, the PATH Foundation helped formulate a partnership between GDOT, Georgia State Parks, and all three counties. Public money for the project was administered by Georgia State Parks and private contributions were assembled by PATH. PATH also agreed to coordinate development and oversee construction of the trail, except in Cobb County, where the Cobb County DOT built the trail.
In 1998, the PATH Foundation established a partnership between the State of Georgia, three counties, four cities and several interest groups for the purpose of building a trail between Atlanta and the Alabama state line on the abandoned Seaboard Coastline Railroad owned by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). The GDOT graciously agreed to have the trail on the right-of-way originally purchased for future commuter rail.
PATH established a steering committee for this trail that introduced the name “Silver Comet Trail” and chose the logo. PATH raised $3.65 million to match over $5 million from public sources, with the Silver Comet Trail as the centerpiece of this campaign. By the end of 2001, 35 miles of the Comet between Smyrna and Rockmart were built and open to the public.
PATH construction crews installed the final mile of the Silver Comet Trail in late August, 2008, just over ten years from the date the first mile was poured. The last foot of the 61.5 mile long trail was installed a few hundred feet east of Hutto Road near mile post 48.
PATH installed a marble marker at the site commemorating the event and recognizing the partners that contributed to building the last three mile section. The last three miles of the Comet ascend to 1100 feet above sea level, one of the highest points on the trail. The Rockmart-Cedartown segment is by no means a boring ride, with plenty of hills, curves, and rural scenery to satisfy most any trail traveler.