THE SOUTH GEORGIA RAILWAY CO.
Donald R. Hensley, Jr.
South Georgia # 102 pictured in Adel, Ga by H.C. Dubal in 1939.
Photo from the collection of R.W. Burhmaster.
The South Georgia Railway was incorporated
on March 6, 1896 by the brothers James and Zenas Oglesby of Heartpine,
Ga in connection with their sawmill operations into Southwest Georgia.
They built a railroad from Heartpine (later renamed Adel) on the Georgia
Southern & Florida to Quitman, Ga on the Savanah Florida & Western
(later Atlantic Coast Line) a total of 27.5 miles. The charter was later
amended on August 21, 1900 to build south from Quitman into Florida and
on toward Tampa but construction was completed only to Greenville, Fl at
milepost 50.9 where a connection was made with the Florida Central &
peninsular Ry. (later Seaboard Air Line).
By December 12, 1900 the owners
were in high hopes of capturing a very nice Florida land grant so they
incorporated in Florida as the West Coast Railway which would extend their
line south of Greenville to Perry and beyond, again dreaming of Tampa.
The West Coast Ry. however was bogged down in raising the necessary money
and it wasn't until September1, 1904 were they able to enter Perry, Fl
(at mile post 76.0) well after the Suwanee & San Pedro became the first
railway into town from Live Oak. Both railroads try to grab the land grants
promised to the Tallahassee & Southeastern but as neither road had
applied to the state legislature neither could claim the grants.
The South Georgia operated the
West Coast under lease and both roads were operated jointly under the "South
Georgia & West Coast" name though this name was never formally incorporated
even though locomotives and rolling stock was lettered as such.
The South Georgia & West Coast
increased their mileage by 5 miles on March 1, 1915 by buying the logging
railroad of the Interstate Lumber Co. for $26,343 which connected Perry
with Hampton Springs. Prior to this they they ran over the Live Oak Perry
& Gulf to bring passenger trains into the springs. Hampton Springs
was a popular resort with a mineral spring which was said to have curative
powers. The springs were bought by the Oglesbys and a large hotel was built
complete with a pool, spa, bottling works, golf course and recreation hall.
And just think, at one time it was served by 6 trains a day on the
South Georgia and 4 trains a day on the Live Oak Perry & Gulf. The
branch was discontinued on February 20, 1929 with the tracks coming up
On November 21, 1923 the South
Georgia finally merged the West Coast Ry into their system ending the South
Georgia & West Coast moniker. By this time the dream of building further
south was smashed by the building of the Atlantic Coast Line's Perry cut-off.
Many lumber companies were located
online and many had trackage rights over the South Georgia. This included
the Weaver-Loughridge Lbr. Co., G.W. Barrington, Shore Lumber Co. and the
Interstate Lumber Co. which enjoyed the longest trackage rights from Perry
to Quitman. While I have yet no evidence of the owners of the Interstate
it wouldn't suprise me one bit if it was owned by the Oglesby family. There
were many other on line sawmills at Greenville and Perry which would have
shipped over the South Georgia. Other traffic besides yellow pine
lumber would have been cypress, cotton, watermellons, cross ties and tobacco.
The South Georgia experiment with
rail cars early on, beginning in 1924 with the 204, which was used until
1927 when it was converted to a camp car. In 1936 a two car set (M-200)
was purchased from the New York Central to replace the mixed train but
it was quickly sold two years later. Finally a railbus was purchased from
the Kalamazoo Company and was numbered M-100 and was used until the end
of passenger service in 1956.
In 1946 the Brooks-Scanlon Corp.,
purchased the South Georgia operating along with the Live Oak Perry &
Gulf. Both roads were sold to the Southern Railway on September 16, 1954
and both roads were upgraded to class one standards by April 1, 1956 so
that larger locomotives and cars could be operated. The South Georgia's
doodlebug was then discontinued and they begin using larger diesels of
the Southern. This marks the end of shortline services on both roads.
the South Georgia Railway Page 2 - Photo gallery.