played an integral role in Alabama's history and economic development as a state. The first two miles of track were laid down in the Muscle Shoals
region in 1832 to transport goods around the then-impassable shoals. By the outbreak of the Civil War
, numerous rail lines traversed the state. Many were destroyed by Union forces, but in the aftermath of the war, rail construction expanded rapidly to feed the growing coal
, iron, and steel industries
and the passenger market. With the rise of the automobile, rail traffic declined drastically, but many communities still celebrate their railroad heritage through their preserved train depots and railroad museums.