Note: The following is part of a series of columns looking at the importance of railroads in and around Bulloch County.
The Central Rail Road and Canal Company of Georgia was organized in 1833 by a group of Savannah businessmen concerned that Charleston’s new railroad to Augusta would divert significant commerce from their port.
Furthermore, the building of the Georgia Railroad and Banking Company railroad line from Augusta to Atlanta even worried them more as it would connect Charleston directly to Atlanta.
On Dec. 20, 1833, the Georgia Legislature granted them a charter to build a railroad to Macon. Of the just over 5,500 shares of $100 stocks, almost 4,300 were held by Savannahians, and only 81 shares were owned by non-Georgians.
Alfred Cruger was hired to select the route of the new railroad in 1834. Cruger planned on cutting through central Bulloch County until Gen. Cone warned farmers the railroad would scare their horses to death, cause chickens to stop laying eggs, and cows to stop producing milk.
As a result of the furor, the railroad followed the Ogeechee River around the borders of Bulloch County, passing through the towns of Dover and Rocky Ford instead of Statesboro. Still, Bulloch county residents could much more easily catch a train to Savannah or Macon now.
Because investors were wary of putting money into the railroad, the Georgia legislature allowed the Central Railroad to change its name to the Central Railroad and Banking Company of Georgia. Once the Central Bank opened in downtown Savannah, people began investing money in the new railroad.
Within a year, passenger and freight trains operated between Savannah and Macon. Its 190 miles of track made it the longest single ownership railroad in the country.
Once the Central had acquired the Macon and Western Railroad, the railroad now extended to Atlanta. The CGA next absorbed the Savannah and Northwestern Railroad.
The S&NW owned George Brinson’s railroads: the Stillmore Air Line Railway (Stillmore to Wadley); the Brinson Railway (Savannah to Newington); and the Savannah Valley Railroad (Egypt to Saint Clair).
The CGA passed along the Bulloch border, making regular stops at Egypt, Oliver, Halcyon Dale, Cameron, Dover, Ogeechee, Rocky Ford, Scarboro, Paramore Hill and Millen.
By 1890 the CGA connected Atlanta with Tybee Island. After being reorganized in 1895 as the CGA Railway, railroad magnate Edward Henry Harriman bought the CGA in 1907.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org.