Tag Archives: Georgia Depots & Railroadiana

Hahira, Georgia

No one knows exactly where Hahira [pronounced hay-HI-ra] got its name, but it was incorporated in 1891. One source states that it was named for a plantation, which the owner named for Hairaairee, a village in West Africa. No such place name can be found in Africa today, but it is very close to Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, actually located in eastern Africa. Another legend maintains Hahira derived its unusual name from Hahiroth, a biblical place name.

Whatever its origin, the small city at the northern end of Lowndes County is growing, along with the rest of the county. New housing developments are popping up everywhere.

Savannah & Atlanta Railway Coaling Tower, Sardis

The text that follows is abridged from a plaque at this site, which was dedicated to the people of Sardis in 2017. To me, the most unusual thing about the tower is how modern it looks, even if it resembles an old frontier fort. Though the text doesn’t definitively say when it was built, I believe it was during the ownership of the Savannah & Atlanta Railway, circa 1917-1921.

The Sardis Coal Chute, also known to locals as the Coaling Tower, is a reminder of the days when steam locomotives dominated the railroads and when Sardis was a booming little town. This intact coaling tower…was once used to load coal into the tenders of steam locomotives using a gravity feed system. The tower was built with solidly reinforced concrete and stands approximately 90 feet tall…The 142 mile rail line, Savannah & Atlanta, ran from S&A Junction, between Camak and Warrenton, to Savannah…

Sardis did not have a railroad until 1911 when the Brinson Railway was extended from Millhaven to Waynesboro. Later, on March 26, 1914, the line became the Savannah & Northwestern and even later, in July 1917, became the Savannah & Atlanta Railway. The line entered receivership in 1921 and was sold to Robert M. Nelson in 1929. The Central of Georgia bought it from Nelson in 1951. In 1962 the Central of Georgia abandoned the line between Waynesboro and Savannah and Sardis was once again left without a railroad.

Millen & Southwestern Railroad Depot, 1890s, Thrift

The long forgotten village of Thrift experienced its greatest growth at the turn of the 19th century with the presence of the Millen & Southwestern Railroad, though growth is a relative term. The population in 1900 was just 61.

I believe this structure to be a depot of the Millen & Southwestern and, luckily, it has been preserved by the property owners. The loading platform is missing, but otherwise the depot looks to be in good shape.

Georgia Woodlands Railroad, Hillman

The Georgia Woodlands Railroad is a short line which runs 17.3 miles from Washington to Barnett. It primarily moves products such as wood chips, lumber and lumber products, as well as other industrial materials. Originally built as the Washington line of the Georgia Railroad in 1852, it has remained in use under various companies ever since.

Georgia Railroad Depot, 1898, Camak

Camak’s rare two-story depot dates to circa 1898. It’s still used by CSX. The town itself was named for James A. Camak (1822-1893), who served as the first president of the Georgia Railroad, and was incorporated the year the depot was built.

The Warren County website details the importance of railroads in the area: The Georgia Railroad Company was chartered December 21, 1883, to build a line of railroad from Augusta to Athens with branches to Madison and Eatonton. Camak became the location for that line. The charter was accepted March 10, 1834, in Athens, Georgia at the home of James Camak, for whom the town is named.  Construction began early in 1835. The charter was amended in 1835, to permit the company to go into the Banking Business. Under the amendment, the company became The Georgia Railroad & Banking Company. Upon the opening of the road through Warren County, stations were established west of Thomson at Camak.  By further amendment to the Charter, a branch from Camak to Warrenton was authorized. This line was completed and opened for business in 1839. Georgia’s first railroad tracks were laid in the mid-1830s on routes leading from Athens, Augusta, Macon, and Savannah. Some twenty-five years later, the state not only could claim more rail miles than any other in the Deep South but also had linked its major towns and created a new rail center, Atlanta. The railroads continued to expand until the 1920s, when a long decline began that lasted into the 1990s. The rail line between Augusta and Atlanta is studded with towns named for early company officials: Camak (James A. Camak, president), Dearing (William E. Dearing, president), and Thomson (J. Edgar Thomson, chief construction engineer)...

Atlanta and Hawkinsville Railroad Depot, 1888, Zebulon

The Atlanta and Hawkinsville Railroad was chartered in 1886 and, though it never reached Hawkinsville, built this depot along the way in 1888. The line was renamed the Atlanta and Florida Railway in 1893 and was sold to the Southern Railway in 1895.

In recent years, the depot was beautifully restored and is now home to the Lions Club and used for other functions, as well.

Louisville & Nashville Railroad Depot, 1916, Tate

The Louisville & Nashville (L&N) Railroad built this depot to serve Tate, which was the busy company town that grew up around Samuel Tate’s Georgia Marble Company. After passenger service was ended in the 1940s, the depot was eventually owned by CSX. The structure was abandoned for many years, and located across Georgia Highway 53, where it was located dangerously close to the roadway. It was moved across the road and restored in 2016 and will eventually serve as an event space for the community.

Georgia Marble Company and Tate Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Chambers Street Bridge, 1912, Jasper

This wooden truss bridge was built in 1912 and rehabilitated in 2009. It serves as an overpass over the Georgia Northeastern Railroad line.

Central of Georgia Railway Depot, 1880, Jonesboro

Most sources note that this depot was built in 1867, which it was, but it wasn’t built in Jonesboro. During the Battle of Jonesboro, on 31 August 1864, Union troops burned the original 1846 Macon and Western Railroad Depot and the rail bed turned into what came to be known as “Sherman’s neckties”.

As Todd DeFeo notes, It’s not enough to say Jonesboro’s depot was built in 1867. The structure seen here was built for the Macon and Western in Barnesville in 1867 and moved stone-by-stone and rebuilt at this location in 1880. By this time, it would have been a Central of Georgia-branded property.

It’s home to the Clayton County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Road to Tara Museum.

Jonesboro Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Central of Georgia Railway Depot, 1912, Barnesville

Barnesville was among the earliest towns in Georgia with a railroad presence, beginning with the Macon and Monroe Railroad [later the Macon and Western, one of Georgia’s three oldest railroads] in 1841. It thrived as an important transportation crossroads before the growth of Atlanta and a depot was built in Barnesville by 1852. The Central of Georgia later acquired the Macon and Western line and in 1912, the old depot was razed and this one built on the site. It opened sometime in 1913.

On 11 August 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt stopped here on his way to dedicate the Lamar Electric Cooperative in front of 50,000 people at the nearby Gordon Military College stadium. The Rural Electrification Administration was one of FDR’s most progressive programs and literally brought rural America out of the dark ages. It’s believed that this was the only such cooperative he dedicated personally.

The depot served until 1971, when the passenger train the Nancy Hanks made her last stop here. When the Southern Railway, successor to the Central of Georgia, planned to raze the depot in 1973, locals successfully lobbied to save it.

National Register of Historic Places