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Column Bulloch History
Seaboard Railroad and Statesboro
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In the 1880’s, railroad magnate John Williams consolidated a number of small coastal North Carolina railroad lines into the Seaboard Railroad (SB). The SB then bought the Savannah, Americus, and Montgomery Railway (SA&M). The SB purchase of the SA&M gave the SB a route into Savannah, essentially breaking the stranglehold of the Central Of Georgia Railroad (CGA) railroad on Savannah traffic.
It turns out the CGA had signed a trackage exchange with the SA&M, swapping permission for the SA&M to use the CGA’s Lyons to Savannah route in exchange for rights to use the SA&M’s Americus to Birmingham route. This also gave the Seaboard lines two routes that passed through (or near) Bulloch County.
Smaller railroad lines sprang up from Statesboro to several of the junctions with the SB, the biggest being at Cuyler. Soon, passengers could now go from Statesboro to the SB’s Union Station in Savannah without making any changes, and could travel northward on the SB all the way to their depot in Chattanooga, TN. Williams renamed the entire system the Seaboard Air Line Railway (SAL) in 1900.
After his Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad acquired several more Virginia railroads, he renamed these systems the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Companies of Virginia and South Carolina (ACL). In 1902 the ACL acquired the entire Henry Plant Railroad system. Shortly thereafter, he combined these into the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad (ACL).
Railroad magnate Henry Plant had built a railroad system that covered virtually all of Florida: he owned the Tampa and Keys Route, as well as the Florida East Coast Railroad, and many others. The purchase of the Plant system gave the ACL control of the Savannah, Florida and Western Railway.
In 1902, the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad also assumed control of the Georgia Railroad (GR) and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad (L&N). The GR was built by combining the Gainesville, Jefferson and Southern Railroad, the Monroe Railroad, the Walton Railroad, and the Union Point and White Plains Railroad. The L&N was at first a just a series of dizzying switchbacks built in order to get around Bald Mountain.
In 1898, an 8,000-foot loop was built all the way around the mountain. In 1906 the ACL built the Etowah Old Line Railroad in order to bypass the treacherous Bald Mountain grade. They then added the North Carolina and Saint Louis Railroad, the Clinchfield Railroad, the Atlanta and West Point Railroad, and the Western Railway of Alabama to the L&N.
In 1967 Williams merged his ACL with his SAL to form the new Seaboard Coast Line Railroad (SCL). In 1980, the SCL and the Chessie System combined to form the new CSX Corporation. The CSX Corporation renamed the SCL the Seaboard System Railroad (SSR) in 1982 and then completely absorbed the SSR in 1986. The Seaboard System, unfortunately, existed no more.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look at Bulloch County's historical past. E-mail Roger at roger
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