The history of the railroad is quite important to the state of Georgia. Georgia’s first railroad tracks were laid in the mid-1830s, leading from cities such as Athens, Augusta, Macon, and Savannah. In fact, not too many people know that when the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad was built from Savannah to Bainbridge, few towns were connecting those routes. Instead, towns sprouted up afterward, becoming what we fondly refer to as historic railroad towns. At one point, Georgia had the most rail miles than any other state in the deep south and created a ton of smaller railroad towns with it. Take a look at a few of our favorite historic railroad towns in Georgia.
1. Waycross, Georgia
Waycross, Georgia was in fact developed primarily because of the railroads through Georgia. This small town is now home of the largest CSX computerized rail yard in the east, and people flock from all over to catch these trains in action.
2. Valdosta, Georgia
Believe it or not, Valdosta, Georgia became the city it is today because of the railroad’s planned path. The Atlantic Railroad needed to run four miles to the west of the now defunct town of Troupeville, so the inhabitants moved to the new town of Valdosta.
3. Lavonia, Georgia
The beautifully quaint depot in Lavonia, Georgia is officially more than 100-years-old. It was was built to serve the Southern railroad in 1910, but later was restored in 2010. Thanks to the railroad boom in Georgia, this city was born, and still thrives to this day!
4. Plains, Georgia
With a population of less than 1,000 people, Plains, Georgia has earned its reputation of being the birthplace of Jimmy Carter, plus one of the best railroad towns in the East. There are plenty of trains which stop in this great town, including the SAM Shortline Excursion Train.
5. Nacoochee, Georgia
Unfortunately, the days of trains coming through Nacoochee are long gone. However, the rich history of those lines still remains. So does the charming depot, too, which was built in the early 1900s, connecting the lumber mills in Helen and Robertstown with the Southern Railway main line at Gainesville.
6. Madison, Georgia
The Madison Rail Station is a historic marker for the state of Georgia. The Georgia Railroad chartered a train in 1833 which reached Madison from Augusta in 1841. Thus leading to the first brick station in the state being built, as the Central of Georgia Railway Depot.
7. Tate, Georgia
As of April 2015, Tate's famed and historic L&N train depot was moved across town to a new, safer site. This depot however, had many trains coming through, helping the tiny town of Tate thrive decades ago.
8. Forsyth, Georgia
Forsyth, Georgia was such an important and historic railroad town that the 1899 Central of Georgia Railway passenger depot is now a local history museum. Built in 1898, the depot is a charming Victorian structure, allowing visitors and residents to reminisce over the history of the railroad through town.
9. Augusta, Georgia
After Savannah, Augusta is Georgia colony’s second established town, and to this day, is the second-largest city in the state. This is why it was a booming railroad hub back in the early 1900s.
10. Conyers, Georgia
The Conyers, Georgia rail depot was built in the late 1900s, and served as a somewhat unusual depot for this historic train town. The two-story center section was odd for most train depots, but still to this day, you can visit this rail town and take a peek for yourself.
11. Roswell, Georgia
Roswell, Georgia holds an interesting piece of history for our great state. It truly thrived after Roswell mill was built. Since Roswell became a textile manufacturing town, the rail line brought in cotton and dry goods and shipped textile and farming products. If it wasn't for the railroad, this town wouldn't have flourished.
12. Decatur, Georgia
Decatur, Georgia, was founded in 1823. Just a few short years later, the town was offered the opportunity to be the western terminus of the Georgia Railroad, east to Augusta. This was a huge opportunity for the town, which then constructed their depot in 1891, despite turning down the opportunity later on. However the depot still served as the community's center of economy for a long time.