During the late Nineteenth Century, railroad fever swept the nation, and Georgia was not immune to the building frenzy. However, many of the proposed new railroads never even made it off the drawing board. This is a story of Bulloch County's "Nether Trains," most of whom never even laid down the first set of rails.
Bulloch County resident F. Lockhart got a charter for his proposed Register Railroad. It was to cover the ten miles of railroad track out of Register that were needed to connect with the track of the fledgling Brewton and Pineora Railroad (B&P). Once the B&P was bought out by the Central of Georgia Railway, and the Central announced they would finish the tracks of their Dublin to Dover side line, Register filed suit in Bulloch County.
He believed that his charter gave him exclusive rights to build tracks on this route, and that the B&P must stop its construction. Judge Evans stated that since Lockhart had done absolutely no work on the line, which he added was only ten miles long, his charter did not prevent the B&P from their construction.
The next railroad that was not to be was the Statesboro and Egypt Railroad. Bulloch County residents J.W. Olliff, J.L. Olliff and J.A. Brannen proposed the construction of this railroad in September of 1898, which would have laid down thirty-one miles of track between the two towns.
Several more new railroads were being considered in 1904. The first was the Swainsboro and Statesboro Railroad. In August of that year A.A. and N.W. Turner, B.L. and James Rountree and J.D. Lanier chartered a new railroad line from Statesboro to Swainsboro, a distance of some 35 miles. The other investors were Dr. J.A. Jones, G. Rentz, J.A. Coleman, J.T. Roberts and J.D. Overstreet.
At the same time, the Statesboro Northern Railway began its creative odyssey. A large group of investors, including the Blitchs, Brannens, Donaldsons, Groovers, Martins, Olliffs, Outlands, Rountrees, Simmonses and Smiths, got a charter for an 85 mile railroad line to go from Statesboro to Kittrells.
The route would take it through Portal (in Bulloch County), Garfield (in Emanuel County), and Wrightsville and Kittrells (in Johnson County). After much discussion, a new route was proposed, going through Summitt and Swainsboro as well.
In October of 1904, talk of a proposed Savannah, Statesboro and Northern Railway started becoming a popular topic. After much discussion, the Statesboro Northern investors accepted a group of new individuals into their corporation: C. Gabbett, A. Herrington, G. Bell, J.A. Coleman and J.F Roberts. They then applied for a revised charter to allow for the different route.
This railroad would travel much further, covering some 152 miles, as it wound from Statesboro through Louisville (in Jefferson County), Thomas (in McDuffie County), Washington (in Wilkes County), stopping in Athens. In addition, they included adding a further stop in Smithsonia (in Oglethorpe County) in the future.
Starting in September of 1906, and continuing through October, the Savannah, Statesboro, and Western Railway merited much discussion. Atlanta newspapers suggested that a new railroad, an Air Line between Statesboro and Atlanta, would cut the existing trip from 305 miles to less than 250.
The main investors in this new line were to be J.R. Anderson, W.W. Williamson, T.F. Welsh Jr., W.E. O’Connor and A.S. Guckenheimer of Savannah in addition to G.S. Johnston, J.A. Brannen, J.G. Blitch, R. Simmons and D.N Bacot, all from Statesboro.
The route would go from Statesboro, passing through Emanuel, Johnson, Washington, Baldwin, Jones, Putnam, Rockdale, DeKalb and Fulton Counties. With the failure to get this railroad off the ground, those with money to spend began to look elsewhere other than in new railroads to make their next investment.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look at the area's historical past. Email Roger at email@example.com