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Bulloch History with Roger Allen - Shearhouses build their own railroad
roger allen
Roger Allen

    In 1912, a third tram railroad was started in Bulloch County, this time by the Shearhouse family. John N. Shearhouse (and partner, George Brinson, the owner of the Midland and several other smaller lines) decided to open a line from Clyo to Claxton.
    Known to most people as the Sherwood Railroad, some documents listed it as the Shearwood Railroad. The line ran, at first, from the Shearhouse saw mill just outside of present-day Brooklet to the Pine Barrens where a more than ample supply of logs awaited their logging crews.
    Shearhouse was soon contacted by three Nevils area farmers, who promised him a sizable sum of money if he would extend his new line through the “Sinkhole District”, as they saw the benefits that the small communities of Denmark and Nevils could garner if the railroad were to pass through these hamlets.
    They were correct. Once the Sherwood was completed to Nevils, this formerly sleepy little town became a major shipping point for thousands of carloads of watermelons being carried to market, with thousands of carloads of guano fertilizer being brought back into Nevils to be used in growing the next crops.
    In addition, the Sherwood became the preferred method of travel for southern Bulloch County's public school students who were attending Brooklet High School. When the line was extended further north from Sherwood Junction to Leefield, partners Brinson and Shearhouse made a bet that whomever’s railroad (the Sherwood or the Midland) got to the junction first would not have to pay to build the railroad crossing.
    The Sherwood's railroad gang beat that of the Midland's to the junction in Leefield and Brinson got stuck paying the bill. Eventually, the Sherwood was extended to Egypt in Effingham County where it intersected with the Central's main line, but never actually reached its planned eastern terminus in Clyo.
    Being an astute businessman, Shearhouse then made an arrangement with the Central of Georgia Railroad so that he would get to keep as much as seventy percent of the fees paid to carry the Sherwood freight that was loaded on to the Central's trains .
    The Sherwood established a daily mixed passenger-freight train that left Egypt every morning that passed through the towns of Leefield, Brooklet, Walterville, Denmark, Nevils, ending up in Claxton in the mid-day. After refueling, the train would reverse its route, ending up back in Egypt late in the afternoon.
    The founder, John, was killed, and his son, Frank, was seriously hurt in a bridge washout and derailment. Although Mrs. Shearhouse managed to keep the line running for several years, eventually she was forced to shut the railroad down and was sold for scrap.
    In quick order, the tracks were torn up, the engines and cars were sold to the Japanese, and the company was dissolved. In fact, during World War Two, Bulloch County boys fighting in the Pacific Theater were heard to say on numerous occasions when battling the Japanese that "They were shooting the Sherwood at us!"
    All that remains of this once proud enterprise is the old Nevils Depot, which still stands (at least partially), forlorn and abandoned, at the corner of Groveland Nevils and the Nevils-Denmark Roads in Nevils.
    Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look at the area's historical past. Email Roger at

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