Note: The following is the continuation of a series of columns looking at the importance of railroads in and around Bulloch County.
Savannah, Augusta and Northern Railway
Area investors started another railroad, which they called the Savannah, Augusta and Northern Railway. It ran from Statesboro all the way to Garfield in 1908.
Before it could extend its line to Stevens Crossing (north of Swainsboro), where it would connect with John Williams' Georgia and Florida Railway, it went into receivership and was sold.
In 1910, Knoxville contractor W.J. Oliver, who had built the line, bought the SA&N and then leased it to the Savannah and Statesboro Railway.
Finally, railroad magnate George Brinson's purchased the 39-mile-long Savannah, Augusta and Northern Railway line that ran from Statesboro to Stevens Crossing in June of 1916.
The main stops on the Savannah, Augusta and Northern Railway were Statesboro, Colfax Station, Bland’s Spur, Portal, Kite’s Spur, Piddleville and Aaron Station.
With the arrival of the Shearwood Railway, Nevils not only became a major shipping point for thousands of carloads of watermelons and guano, but became the way students attending Brooklet High School from the area got to and from class.
When both the Shearwood and Midland railways extended their lines to Leefield, owners John Shearhouse and George Brinson made a bet that whoever’s railroad got to the junction last would pay to build the railroad crossing.
The SR beat the MR, and Brinson got stuck with the bill. Eventually, the SR was extended to the Foy lumber mill in Egypt. Being an astute businessman, Shearhouse made an arrangement with the Central of Georgia that he would get to keep 70 percent of fees for the SR freight which was being transshipped on the CGA main line.
The SR established a passenger-freight service that went from Egypt, Bassett, Leefield, Brooklet, Watersville (or Walterville), DeLoach, Denmark, Nevils, Overbrook, Claxton and finally Hagan.
After John was killed and his son Frank was seriously hurt in a tragic railroad accident, the railroad fell on hard times. Although Mrs. Shearouse was determined to keep the line running, eventually the railroad went bankrupt.
The tracks were torn up and, along with the equipment, were sold to the Japanese for scrap. When World War II started, the Bulloch County boys serving in the South Pacific would sometimes say “Hey, they're shooting the Sherwood at us” when Japanese soldiers would engage them in combat.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at email@example.com.