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Columbus and Greenville Railway

Last revised: October 10, 2023

By: Adam Burns

The Columbus and Greenville Railway, otherwise known by its reporting marks (CAGY), is a historic short line dating back to the early 20th century. 

The system was a longtime component of the Southern Railway although always remained a subsidiary due to Mississippi state law. 

Its name was changed to the Columbus & Greenville Railroad in 1920 and was spun-off from the Southern three years later. 

The CAGY maintained a linear network, running from the Mississippi River at Greenville to Columbus, near the Alabama state line. 

The system was bolstered by numerous Class I connections including the Illinois Central (Greenville, Stoneville, Elizabeth, Moorhead, Greenwood, Winona and West Point); Gulf, Mobile & Ohio (Mathiston, Maben, West Point, and Columbus), Southern (Columbus), and St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (Columbus).

Photos

972378527385287362794698432347.jpgColumbus & Greenville 65-tonner #41, a product of Whitcomb, was photographed here by Warren Calloway at Greenville, Mississippi in October, 1971.

History

Mergers and bankruptcies, abandonments, and spin-offs have hurt the company over the years as it has lost many of its interchange points. 

In 2001 severe washouts forced the railroad to embargo 89.5 miles of main line between West Point and Greenwood. 

This trackage remains out of service today under Genesee & Wyoming, Inc. which purchased CAGY Industries in 2008. 

The latter company operated the original Columbus & Greenville as well as short lines Luxapalila Valley Railroad and Chattooga & Chickamauga Railway. 

The future of this property is, unfortunately, in doubt following two decades of no use. 

However, one of the strengths of the original CAGY was its through route, the shortest trip across the northern part of the state.  In addition, the town of Winona includes a connection to short line Grenada Railroad (ex-IC).

The first spike of the Greenville, Columbus and Birmingham Railroad, today known as the Columbus & Greenville Railway was driven in Greenville on January 5, 1879 by Mrs. H. B. Theabold who was a prominent Greenville, Mississippi citizen.

The track was completed eastward to Stoneville on March 31, 1878, and the first scheduled passenger service was started April 8, 1878, with two round trips scheduled daily between Greenville and Stoneville, Mississippi.

Passenger train service was extended as each track segment was completed. The construction of the station at 205 Central Avenue was authorized in 1886 and the building was completed in 1888.

It was what I call mock fortress architecture in which the top of the walls all around looked like a fort with no overhang and fake gun ports.

The main line was completed between Greenville and Atlanta June 18, 1889, and through train scheduled service began between Greenville and Atlanta on July 8. 1889. 

System Map (Present Day)

The ownership and name of the railroad also changed to Georgia Pacific Railroad in 1889. A through Pullman sleeping car was operated on this train for many years. 

On September 1, 1894, the ownership and name again changed to Southern Railway in Mississippi. The Southern Railway in Mississippi was part of the Southern Railway, but, in 1892 the Mississippi legislature passed a law that any new railroad operating in Mississippi had to be chartered in Mississippi, thus the “IN Mississippi” part of the name.

In 1912 the Southern Railway in Mississippi enlarged the station building with a fifty foot addition on the rear and completely remodeled the building.

They removed the “fortress” wall tops and added roof overhangs all around the building to the basic present look of the building. 

On November 6, 1920 the Southern Railway in Mississippi changed the name to Columbus and Greenville Railroad.

On August 6, 1923 Mr. A. T. Stovall purchased the railroad and renamed it the Columbus and Greenville Railway. During the Columbus and Greenville era, the premier passenger train between Columbus and Greenville was the “Deltan”. 

Columbus & Greenville DRS-6-4-1500 #604 at Columbus, Mississippi in June of 1972. Warren Calloway photo.

The “Deltan” C&G Train Number 11/12 made a across platform connection with the Southern Railway Train Number 11/12 to and from Atlanta. The “Deltan” was completely air conditioned in 1938.

The last run of the Deltan was July 15, 1948. All scheduled passenger service ended in 1949 although special passenger trains were still run.

System Map (1940)

The last “Special” was a football special from Columbus to Greenville and back in 1957. The Stovall family operated the railroad until it was taken over by the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad on September 29, 1972. 

The Illinois Central Gulf, also formed in 1972, was a massive system (for its time), controlling much of the trackage in the center of the country along the Mississippi River between Chicago and the deep south near New Orleans.

Logo

It consisted of the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio and Illinois Central railroads, which both operated in the same regions and served many of the same markets. Similarly, both railroads were unique in that they operated north-south main lines instead of the more traditional east-west systems.

On October 30, 1975, a group of local investors purchased the railroad and operated it as the Columbus and Greenville Railway.

Diesel Roster

Road Number Model Type Builder Year Built HP Notes
4165-TonWhitcomb1944650Ex-U.S. Army #8440, scrapped.
4265-TonWhitcomb1944650Ex-U.S. Army #8459, scrapped.
501SW-1EMD6/1940600Ex-TRRA #501, sold for scrap to M.D. Friedman.
505SW-1EMD9/1947600Ex-TRRA #505.
506SW-1EMD9/1947600Ex-TRRA #506, sold for scrap to M.D. Friedman.
507SW-1EMD1946600Ex-IC #607, traded for former Florida East Coast GP7's.
508SW-1EMD1947600Ex-TRRA #508, sold to United Cement of Artesia, Mississippi in 1981.
509SW-1EMD6/1946600Ex-IC #608, traded for former Florida East Coast GP7's.
514SW-1EMC3/1940600Ex-South Shore Line #601; built as Buffalo Creek Railroad (New York) #42. Acquired in 1975 and sold to Babcock & Wilcox of West Point, Mississippi in 1977.
520SW-1EMC6/1939600Leased from ICG circa 1972. Built as Wabash #103 and later worked on the Bonhomie & Hattiesburg Southern as #1. The BH&S was merged into the new Illinois Central Gulf in 1972. The unit returned to ICG sometime between late 1976 and early 1977.
521SW-1EMC6/1939600Leased from ICG circa 1972. Built as Wabash #102 and later worked on the Bonhomie & Hattiesburg Southern as #2. The unit returned to ICG sometime between late 1976 and early 1977.
522SW-1EMC12/1939600Ex-IC #601, sold to Port Bienville Railroad.
523SW-1EMD6/1946600Ex-IC #606, sold to Marshall Durbin Company.
524SW-1EMD6/1946600Ex-IC #611, sold to Port Bienville Railroad.
525SW-1EMD9/1941600Built as Elgin, Joliet & Eastern #240; sold to Fernwood, Columbia & Gulf as #600. The FC&G was merged to the ICG in 1972 where the unit became #611. It was sold to CAGY that year. Later sold to Vulcan Materials.
601DRS-6-4-1500Baldwin10/19461500Acquired new. Preserved and on display in Columbus, Mississippi.
602DRS-6-4-1500Baldwin10/19461500Acquired new. Wrecked and retired in 1961.
603DRS-6-4-1500Baldwin12/19461500Acquired new. Scrapped in the early 1980's.
604DRS-6-4-1500Baldwin1/19471500Acquired new. Scrapped in the early 1980's.
605DRS-6-4-1500Baldwin1/19471500Acquired new. Scrapped in the early 1980's.
606AS416Baldwin9/19511500Acquired new. Preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum.
607SW-1EMD6/1946600Ex-IC #9022. Sold to Harvest States Cooperative as #507.
608GP7EMD9/19521500Ex-FEC #608. Scrapped 4/2009.
614GP7EMD9/19521500Built as FEC #614, later worked on the South Shore Line. Scrapped 4/2009.
615GP7EMD10/19521500Built as FEC #615, later worked on the South Shore Line. Scrapped 4/2009.
618GP7EMD10/19521500Built as FEC #618, later worked on the South Shore Line. Scrapped 4/2009.
619GP7EMD10/19521500Built as FEC #619. Scrapped 4/2009.
621GP7EMD10/19521500Built as FEC #621. Scrapped 4/2009.
701SD28EMD9/19651800Acquired new. Sold to ICG as #9450 in 1972.
702 (1st)SD28EMD9/19651800Acquired new. Sold to ICG as #9451 in 1972.
702 (2nd)GP9EMD7/19551750Ex-Southern/CNO&TP #6246, acquired 1983.
703GP9EMD7/19551750Ex-Southern/CNO&TP #6248, acquired 1983.
704GP9EMD8/19551750Ex-Southern #8214, acquired 1983.
801CF7EMD5/19511500Built as Santa Fe F7A #254-C. Rebuilt as CF7 #2450 in 7/1977.
802CF7EMD4/19501500Built as Santa Fe F7A #234-L. Rebuilt as CF7 #2451 in 7/1977.
803CF7EMD11/19531500Built as Santa Fe F7A #273-L. Rebuilt as CF7 #2465 in 3/1977.
804CF7EMD12/19521500Built as Santa Fe F7A #308-L; renumbered 345-L in 5/1973. Rebuilt as CF7 #2464 in 3/1977. Scrapped 4/2009.
805CF7EMD6/19561500Built as Santa Fe F9A #285-L. Rebuilt as CF7 #2434 in 10/1977. Scrapped 4/2009.
806CF7EMD5/19511500Built as Santa Fe F7A #257-L. Rebuilt as CF7 #2548 in 10/1977. Scrapped 4/2009.
807CF7EMD5/19501500Built as Santa Fe F7A #239-C. Rebuilt as CF7 #2505 in 8/1974. Scrapped 7/2011.
808CF7EMD12/19491500Built as Santa Fe F7A #224-C. Rebuilt as CF7 #2483 in 1/1975.
1000GP7REMD8/19521500Built as Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha #157. Rebuilt as Chicago & North Western GP7R #4469. Scrapped 4/2009.
1001GP7REMD4/19511500Built as Chicago & North Western #1550; rebuilt as GP7R #4477. Out of service.
1002GP7REMD5/19531500Built as Chicago & North Western #1659; rebuilt as GP7R.
1003GP7REMD8/19521500Built as Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha #161. Rebuilt as Chicago & North Western GP7R #4467.
1543SW1504EMD8/19731500Built as NdeM #8848.
1586GP7EMD9/19511500Built as CB&Q #230; later became BN #1586. Scrapped 4/2009.
1804GP11EMD1/19561850Built as Illinois Central GP9 #9185; rebuilt by IC as GP11 #8736.
1806GP11EMD3/19531850Built as Illinois Central GP9 #8967; rebuilt by IC as GP11 #8747.
2011GP38EMD1/19702000Built as Southern #2785; became Norfolk Southern #2785. Formerly CAGY #2785.
2094GP38EMD-2000-
2777GP38EMD11/19692000Built as Southern #2777.
2880GP38EMD6/19662000Built as Norfolk Southern (original) #2001; became Southern #2880 and then NS #2880.
3310SD40-2EMD6/19663000Built as Milwaukee Road #173, later became Soo #6346 then EMD Leasing #6346.
3312SD40-2EMD7/19763000Built as Missouri Pacific #3220, renumbered 6004 then became Union Pacific #3904.
7004CF7EMD9/19491500Built as Santa Fe F7A #38-C, became CF7 #2564 in 7/1977. Scrapped 4/2009.
8715GP11EMD8/19561850Built as New Haven GP9 #1208, sold to ICG and rebuilt as GP11 #8715.
8718GP11EMD8/19561850Built as New Haven GP9 #1224, sold to ICG and rebuilt as GP11 #8718.
8720GP11EMD6/19631850Built as IC GP18 #9423, rebuilt by ICG as GP11 #8720.

Columbus & Greenville's only AS416, #606, is seen here in Greenville, Mississippi on May 15, 1972. Warren Calloway photo.

The railroad continues to operate today as the Columbus and Greenville Railway although ownership changed in July, 2008, to Genesee and Wyoming, Inc., which owns and operates railroads in the United States and other countries as well.

The current Columbus and Greenville Railway operates between Greenville and Greenwood and between Columbus and West Point.

The track is out of service between Greenwood and West Point although efforts are underway to possibly restore service between Greenwood and West Point. 

Most information on this page is courtesy of Harold Holiman.

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