The Chattahoochee Brick Work site. (Photo courtesy Groundwork Atlanta)

Norfolk Southern has dropped plans to build a fuel terminal at the controversial Chattahoochee Brick Company site in west Atlanta.

The rail freight company had halted work at the site, located on the Chattahoochee River just north and west of Bolton Road, after the City of Atlanta filed an injunction to stop the fuel terminal.

The Chattahoochee Brick Company, which supplied material for the construction of houses and buildings in Atlanta beginning in 1878, used mostly Black men as “convict” labor in its manufacturing processes. The men worked under terrible conditions—some to their deaths. The practice continued until the early 1900s. The brickworks on the property eventually closed in 2011.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a statement that the city would do “everything it can to protect the sanctity and significance of this property.  A site of such historic and environmental importance needs careful consideration before even limited development occurs.”

According to Saporta Report, Norfolk Southern believed the city’s injunction had no merit, but  listened to the community and was not interested in protracted litigation if the city opposes the project.

“We pride ourselves on being a good corporate citizen in the communities where we operate,” Norfolk Souther CEO James A.  Squires said in a statement. “In this case, that means walking away from the project despite our very best efforts to work with the community on the responsible development of the site.”

Nonprofits Groundwork, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, Riverwalk Atlanta, and others are advocating for this site to be developed as a memorial and as a critical link in the Proctor Creek Greenway and Riverwalk Atlanta plans.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.