1903 map of the Central of Georgia Railway
CG Railway logo under one of the historic viaducts in Savannah.
|Dates of operation||1895–1963|
|Successor||split between Southern Railway later Norfolk Southern and St. Louis-San Francisco Railway then Burlington Northern now BNSF|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Previous gauge||5 ft (1,524 mm),|
civil war era
and4 ft 9 in (1,448 mm)
|Length||1,944 miles (3,129 km) in 1929|
The Central of Georgia Railway (reporting mark CG) started as the Central Rail Road and Canal Company in 1833. As a way to better attract investment capital, the railroad changed its name to Central Rail Road and Banking Company of Georgia. This railroad was constructed to join the Macon and Western Railroad at Macon, Georgia, and run to Savannah. This created a rail link from Chattanooga, on the Tennessee River, to seaports on the Atlantic Ocean. It took from 1837 to 1843 to build the railroad from Savannah to the eastern bank of the Ocmulgee River at Macon; a bridge into the city was not built until 1851.
Over the years, this railroad steadily acquired other railroads by either lease or purchase:
- Augusta and Savannah Railroad 1862
- Eatonton Branch Railroad 1855
- Milledgeville and Eatonton Railroad 1855
- Milledgeville and Gordon Railroad 1855
- Mobile and Girard Railroad 1886
- Girard Railroad 1857
- Savannah and Tybee Railroad 1890
- Savannah and Western Railroad 1890
- Chattanooga, Rome and Columbus Railroad 1891
- Columbus and Rome Railroad 1888
- Columbus and Western Railroad 1888
- East Alabama Railroad 1888
- Savannah, Griffin and Northern Alabama Railroad 1890
- Southwestern of Georgia Railroad 1869
- Upson County Railroad 1891
In 1888, the Richmond Terminal Company, a Virginia holding company, gained control of the Central. The financial problems of the parent company forced the CofG into bankruptcy, and it was sold at foreclosure three years later, being reorganized as the Central of Georgia Railway on November 1, 1895.
In 1907 railroad magnate and financier E. H. Harriman gained a controlling interest in the railway, and in 1909 sold his interest to the Illinois Central Railroad, which he also controlled. In 1932, during the Great Depression, the CofG went into receivership, from which it did not emerge until 1948. In 1956, the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway ("Frisco"), seeking a route to Atlantic Ocean ports, gained control of the CofG, but the Interstate Commerce Commission declined to approve a merger of the two roads, so the Frisco sold its CofG stock to the Southern Railway in 1963.
At the end of 1956 the CofG operated 1,764 miles (2,839 km) of road and 2,646 miles (4,258 km) of track; that year it reported 3208 million net ton-miles of revenue freight and 73 million passenger-miles. Those totals do not include the 144-mile (232 km) Savannah and Atlanta, the 10-mile (16 km) L&W, the 20-mile (32 km) Wadley Southern or the 36-mile (58 km) Wrightsville and Tennille.
The CofG became a Southern Railway subsidiary on June 17, 1963. In 1971 the Southern formed the Central of Georgia Railroad to merge the Central of Georgia Railway, the Savannah and Atlanta Railway, and the Wrightsville and Tennille Railroad.
The famous passenger train the Nancy Hanks II ran from Atlanta to Savannah, via Macon. It had the two added on the end to distinguish it from a short lived train the Central sal in the 1890's. Another notable train was the Man o' War, a Columbus - Atlanta route, via Newnan. Both of these trains were named after prize-winning racehorses. When Amtrak took control of the Southern Railway's passenger service in 1971, The Southern decided to discontinue the aforementioned trains.
Long distance inter-state trains operated on Central of Georgia tracks as part of their itineraries: City of Miami (Chicago-Miami), Southland (Chicago & Cincinnati to St. Petersburg), Flamingo (Cincinnati-Jacksonville) and Seminole (Chicago-Jacksonville).
Well into the 1960s, CofG trains remained segregated, long after most Southern railroads abolished racial bars. The CofG only operated in Georgia, and some parts of Alabama, and was thus not engaged in interstate commerce.
In recent years
Today the Central of Georgia exists only as a paper railroad within the Norfolk Southern Railway group. 42 miles (68 km) of the CofG's former mainline are currently leased by the Chattooga and Chickamauga Railway from the State of Georgia.
Preserved historic sites
A number of former properties of Central of Georgia are preserved as historic sites. These include the following, listed on the National Register of Historic Places:
- Central of Georgia Depot (Andalusia, Alabama)
- Central of Georgia Railway: Savannah Shops and Terminal Facilities, in Georgia
Central of Georgia Railway 509 (2-8-0) Central City Park Macon, Ga
Central of Georgia Railway 349 (4-4-0) Georgia State Railroad Museum Savannah, Ga
Central of Georgia Railway 1 (SW-1) Georia State Railroad Museum Savannah, Ga
Central of Georgia Railway 223 (2-8-0) Georgia State Railroad Museum Savannah, Ga
Central of Georgia Railway 109 (RS-3) Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum Chattanooga, Tn
Jim Crow Passenger Car(s) 606 and 607 built by the Pullman Company in 1911 To serve The Centaral Of Georgia's growing passenger demand.
Passenger Car 661 built by American Car and Foundary for service on the Nancy Hanks II in 1947 and is currently owned by the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.
Passenger Car 662 built by American Car and Foundary in 1947 for use on the Nancy Hanks II and is currently owned by the Southwestern Railroad Museum.
Passenger Car 567 built by Pullman in 1927 for use on The Seminole. It is currently owned by the Southwestern Railroad Museum.
On April 5, 2012, Norfolk Southern unveiled NS 8101, a GE ES44AC painted in the scheme found on Central of Georgia's diesel locomotives. It was the fourth of 20 units that NS painted in the colors of their predecessors.
- "The Days They Changed the Gauge".
- RailGa.com. "Railroad History: Central of Georgia Railway." Accessed 2011-07-30.
- "Sherman's bowties". Civil War Potpourri. Retrieved Jan 9, 2011.
Source: The March To The Sea/Franklin And Nashville By Jacob D. Cox, LL. D., Late Major-General Commanding Twenty-Third Army Corps Chapter II.--The March Through Georgia.
- Hallberg, Milton C. (2009-12-21). "Railroads in North America; Some Historical Facts and An Introduction to an Electronic Database of North American Railroads and Their Evolution."
- 'Official Guide of the Railways,' December 1954, Central of Georgia section, Table 4
- Kornweibel, Theodore, Jr. (2010). Railroads in the African American Experience: A Photographic Journey (print). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 9780801891625.
- "Norfolk Southern's Heritage Locomotives". Norfolk Southern. July 4, 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Central of Georgia Railway.|
- Central of Georgia Historical Society
- Extensive history at RailGA.com
- "Central of Georgia Railway, New Georgia Encyclopedia
- 1955 route map of the Central of Georgia, Georgia's Railroad History and Heritage
- Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, "Chapter VI: The Central of Georgia Railroad System," A History of Transportation in the Eastern Cotton Belt to 1860, New York, Columbia University Press, 1908.