As expansion continued through the 1870s and into the 1880s the Central Rail Road & Banking Company of Georgia was growing into a major southern system. In addition to the takeovers mentioned above the Mobile & Girard was added in 1870. It began as the Girard Railroad of 1845 and then renamed in 1854. The road eventually went on to open a route from Columbus, Georgia, across the Chattahoochee River at Girard, Alabama, to as far south as Troy via Union Springs. The line was completed in 1870. It was formally leased to the CRR&BC in 1886 and pushed further south to Searight in 1892. The goal of the original Girard Railroad was to link Columbus with Mobile Bay. These hopes were never realized although in 1899, under the Central of Georgia name, tracks were extended from Searight to Andalusia, Alabama constituting the branch's furthest reach. The Savannah & Western Railroad (S&W) comprised its next important component, formed in 1888 as a CRR&BC subsidiary. It added a series of small systems pushing it further into Alabama and across the Tennessee border. Shortly after its creation the S&W purchased the 157-mile Columbus & Western (C&W) which connected Columbus with Birmingham, Alabama. In addition, a branch ran from near the Alabama state line at Opelika to Roanoke.
Around the time of the Columbus & Western takeover the Buena Vista & Ellaville was also added. The BV&E ran 30 miles from Americus, on the CRR&BC's Macon main line, to Buena Vista. Under S&W control it was extended an additional 35 miles westward to Columbus; thus opened a continuous main line from Savannah to Montgomery and Birmingham. Finally, one last 1888 addition was the Columbus & Rome. According to Dr. George Hilton's, "American Narrow Gauge Railroads," it began as the North & South Railroad of Georgia organized on August 1, 1871. The system was conceived by Governor Rufus Bullock to open the state's western regions for rail service. In 1877 it completed a three-foot network a distance of 23 miles between Columbus and Hamilton. In 1882 its name was changed as the Columbus & Rome and finished a final extension to Greenville in 1885. In 1888 it was merged into the S&W. In 1906 the tracks were converted to standard gauge which coincided with a final extension to Raymond near Newnan.
From there trackage rights were utilized over the Atlanta & West Point (West Point Route) into Atlanta, a setup which survived through the CoG era. The very last component of the S&W was the Chattanooga, Rome & Columbus which it acquired in 1890. Just like the North & South (N&S), the CR&C began as the narrow-gauge Rome & Carrollton, chartered on August 3, 1881. Its intended purpose was to utilize and complete the unfinished grading of the N&S consisting of roughly 50 miles between Rome and Carrollton. At first, no progress was made but finally service was opened from Rome to Cedartown (20 miles) in 1887 before further work stopped. In 1888 the system was renamed as the Chattanooga, Rome & Columbus and completed to Carrollton. That same year the narrow-gauge was widened and standard-gauge built from Rome to Chattanooga. In all, the CR&C operated a 140 mile network. Under the Central of Georgia it became an important corridor where interchange was made with the Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific (Southern) and Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis (Louisville & Nashville).
The Central Of Georgia Railway Is Born
The 1890s were a rather tumultuous decade for the Central Rail Road & Banking Company of Georgia although it did boast a network of 1,020 miles. In 1888 it had fallen into the hands of interests owned by the Richmond & Danville and continued to grow through the early 1890s. On June 15, 1891 it leased the Macon & Northern which offered a new 106-mile line from Macon, northward to Athens. In March of 1892 a court dispute was undertaken by a shareholder of the CRR&BC due to shady business dealings by the railroad's parent companies. The corporation was ultimately placed in receivership and eventually sold on October 7, 1895. On October 17th the Central of Georgia Railway was incorporated to acquire the remaining assets of the CRR&BC and formally began service on October 31st. The new railroad was able to retain most of the CRR&BC's leased and controlled lines although all trackage in South Carolina was lost. This included stakes in the Port Royal & Augusta and Port Royal & Western; combined these two roads connected Port Royal, South Carolina with Anderson, Greenville, and Spartanburg via Augusta. Another important segment let go was a more direct route from Savannah and Birmingham via Americus and Columbus. The CRR&BC had owned a branch from Meldrim (near Savannah) to Lyons but gained trackage rights over the 124-mile Savannah, Americus & Montgomery to reach its own rails at Americus. This inside gateway was discontinued in 1896 when the branch was leased to a Seaboard Air Line subsidiary.
At its peak the Central Rail Road & Banking Company of Georgia had owned some 2,700 miles including all subsidiaries and leased properties. After its reorganization as the Central of Georgia the new railroad maintained a network of 1,520 miles. There were a few final extensions carried out through the early 20th century. On December 31, 1896 the CoG added the Middle Georgia & Atlantic Railway which extended from Milledgeville/Eatonton to Covington, bisecting its line to Athens at Machen. In 1899 the branch reached its final length when a short extension opened to Porterdale. In 1900 more growth took place when the line from Columbia, Georgia was extended to Sellersville, Alabama via Dothan. It also saw extensions to Paxton and Lakewood, Florida offering the CoG's its only reach into the Sunshine State. However, during the 1940s all trackage here west of Dothan was either sold or abandoned. One final noteworthy addition was the Savannah & Atlantic Railroad, which came with the Central's 1895 reorganization. This little system began service in 1887 as the Savannah & Tybee Island Railway providing passenger service from Savannah to the vacation destination of nearby Tybee Island. It was 18 miles in length. In 1890 the name was changed as the Savannah & Atlantic. The road generated little freight and after a highway was built to the beach in 1923, rail service was discontinued on July 21, 1933 (today, the right of way is home to the McQueen's Island Trail).
Into the 20th century the Central was a profitable road, connecting with many of the South’s largest markets. It maintained a steady flow of traffic, particularly interchange movements,with other railroads like the Southern, Illinois Central, Seaboard Air Line, Louisville & Nashville, and Atlantic Coast Line. Its passenger services ranged from its very own Nancy Yanks (named for an unbeaten Standardbred mare named for Abraham Lincoln's mother) operating between Savannah and Atlanta while it participated in several through services to Florida including the Flamingo, Seminole, Southland, Dixie Flyer, and Dixie Limited. Its freight traffic was just as dynamic including agriculture, manufactured goods, coal, forest products, steel, cotton, and various less than carload movements. Its success and many markets drew interest from much larger railroads. At first it came under the control of tycoon E.H. Harriman in 1907, followed by the Illinois Central in 1909. The IC used it as a further reach into the Southeast and maintained an influence until 1948. That year (1948) the CoG exited receivership after being stuck in reorganization since December 20, 1932. As a result the IC lost its holdings. In 1951 the Central picked up a more direct Savannah-Atlanta routing by acquiring the Savannah & Atlanta Railway that year. During June of 1956 another railroad attempted to acquire control of the CoG, the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway.
Diesel Locomotive Roster
The American Locomotive Company
The Baldwin Locomotive Works
|S2||21, 23, 24, 28-35||1940-1948||11|
The Electro-Motive Corporation/Electro-Motive Division
Steam Locomotive Roster
Mallet Compound/Articulated (2-6-6-2)
A complete steam locomotive roster is far too comprehensive to cover here including various predecessors, wheel arrangements, re-numberings, and final dispositions. The above is only a very general listing of how the Central numbered its fleet. For a complete, in-depth, and detailed look at the road's roster try to find a copy of Richard Prince's book, "Central of Georgia Railway And Connecting Lines." It provides everything you might want to know about the railroad's steam fleet.
The Frisco was ultimately denied its holdings by the Interstate Commerce Commission and instead the agency allowed the surrounding Southern Railway to gain stakes on June 17, 1963. Over the years the wealthy Southern slowly integrated CoG's operations into its own. In 1971 the company was renamed as the Central of Georgia Railroad
after the Southern merged three smaller lines into it; the Georgia
& Florida, Wrightsville & Tennille, and Savannah &
Atlanta. Following Southern's takeover the CoG’s identity disappeared in time. However, even today, it remains a subsidiary of successor Norfolk Southern and
is still on the books as an operating railroad (NS still even sub
letters some locomotives with CoG markings). Prior to the Central’s loss of independence it maintained an interesting and classy livery, which was quite similar to the
Baltimore & Ohio’s regal blue, gray, and gold (with yellow trim). Its locomotives wore two different versions, a brighter
yellow with red trim as well as darker scheme. Both examples can be seen in the postcard presented at the top of this page as the heritage locomotive above.
Books Featured In This Article
Central Of Georgia