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 in 1931.
    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.

 To the South Georgia Railway Page 2 - Photo gallery.
Return to Taplines