Atlanta to Fort Valley
This abandoned railway line was originally chartered as the Atlanta and Hawkinsville Railroad in 1886. Despite the A&H's intent to build from Atlanta south to Cordele, GA, the line only went as far as Fort Valley by 1888. The line ran parallel to both the Central of Georgia mainline and the Southern Railway mainline between Atlanta and Macon.
During its early years, several passenger trains were run along the line, as evidenced by the 11 passenger stations found along the route, including one in both Atlanta and Fort Valley. The line was renamed to the Atlanta and Florida Railroad before ultimately coming under the control of the Southern in 1895.
The Great Depression in the 1930s resulted in the loss of many lines and the Southern made the decision to redirect traffic from this line to their mainline between Atlanta and McDonough, then to Williamson, where an existing connection with this line was utilized in order to give access along the remainder of this line south to Fort Valley. Despite the new traffic pattern, a 1932 timetable shows at least 6 trains running along the line before the abandonment of the northern portion of the line in 1938.
The southern portion between Williamson and Fort Valley saw continued use for local traffic by the Southern up until the mid-1970s, when the northern end of the line between Williamson and Roberta was pulled up in 1977.
Today, the segment between Roberta and Fort Valley still sees service, as a local shortline operator serves a sand mine in that area.
Thanks to Eugene Cain for contributing information.
Portions of this line still exist around Fort Valley, but the Southern removed the rails on the northern portion of the line before the second World War. Much of the roadbed has been lost but some is still visible today.
There is another railroad station for the Atlanta and Florida still in existence in Fayette County. The station is in the town of Kenwood, between Riverdale and Fayetteville - it is just hard to see behind all the saplings that are growing up around it. It is on the aptly name Olde road just east and south of the old store fronts.
@Larry - Where is the station in Kenwood located? We should get pictures before it is gone!
Part of the right of way is currently used a walking trail in Kenwood Park, just off of Hwy 279. The path is on the Eastern edge of the park.
Very interesting. I found your site after looking up the origins of "Ackert" after I passed the old railroad depot on a bike ride. Using satellite imaging from 1955, I put together what I believe to be a fairly accurate map of the line from Atlanta to Inman. I attempted to plot out the stops as well; some I know exactly where they are, others are educated guesses.
I visited the Kenwood station the other day and it's still standing but in bad condition. I took a few photos that I would like to share. Also please check out this link. There is a photo of the Kenwood depot (not sure of the date taken ~ 1930s) http://fayettehistoricalsociety.com/HISTFAYETTEPHOTOS.html.
Also, is there a good resource about this line? I want to possibly do a documentary about it. Thanks
The Georgia Department of Transportation has a project to improve the intersection of SR 16 and Vaughn Rd./Rover-Zetella Rd. and I am doing part of the environmental review for this project. In doing my background research, I noted that the topographic quad for the Zetella area had a feature running north-south just east of the intersection and it was labeled "Old RR grade." I believe this is the old Atlanta to Fort Valley line. Is anyone familiar with the history of the line in this specific area or can you connect me to someone who is? In doing an initial reconnaissance of the area, I also noted a small depot-like building just west of the corridor as depicted on the map and north of what is now Railroad Dr. Any information/direction provided would be helpful.
What you've found is indeed the old Atlanta and Florida Railway grade through Zetella. It appears that SR 16 once crossed the railroad line with a bridge and once the railroad was abandoned, the bridge was just filled it.
The building you found south of SR 16 was indeed a depot whose archictecture is very similar to the other surving depots along the line in Zebulon and Meansville.
This is great history! I am about to open "The Railroad Café" in Fort Valley, GA in the old 1901 passenger depot.
I am sharing this link and much more railroad history on my Facebook Page as I come across it from now on.
An 1883 map of Spalding County does not show this railroad since it was built after 1886. However, you can see the main road was south of where highway 16 is now located in the Zetella Community as you approach the Rover-Zetella Road from Griffin. I grew up in that area and walked over many portions of the old railroad bed.
The table below can be found at the website http://railga.com/sr95ttatlfv.html
Atlanta - Fort Valley timetable 1895
This was the former Atlanta & Florida Railroad route.
From: Travelers' Official Guide of the Railway and Steam Navigation Lines in the United States and Canada, January 1896.
The table below can be found at the website http://railga.com/sr1917tt5.html
From: Official Guide of the Railways, April 1918.
I remember playing on the old roadbed in front of my uncles house, Grady Harper, in Zetella when I was a kid in the late 40s, early 50s. I would dearly love to find an image of the bridge that used to cross above the railroad for Hwy 16. Can anyone help? When I worked for a land surveyor in the early 60s, we'd frequently come across portions of the old roadbed in the area between Zetella and Vaughn. Just found out that Vaughn was once Kallulah Junction, and even called Cresswell, before being called Vaughn. It appears as Kallulah Junction in the early timetables.
I am on a journey to take pictures of all of the standing depots left in Georgia. I have pictures of the Riverdale Depot and others. Do you have any information on the Riverdale Depot like the year it was built.
Does anyone have any photos (old or recent) of depots like or similar to Ackert, GA? Other depots are/were Georgia- Kenwood, Zenith, Riverdale and Pine Grove, they should be the same. In Tennessee- Chewalla. In Alabama- Bellamy, Piper, Coleanor. Steens, Mississippi. Similar are- Belle Ellen, AL, Cardiff, AL, Seddon, AL. Probably were others in other states but I haven't found evidence of any so far.
I'm researching to restore the Sandy Level, VA depot built by Southern Railway between 1900 and 1910 on the Franklin and Pittsylvania Railroad, leased by Southern Railway and predecessors from 1880 to 1914. Almost same as Ackert, GA. Exactly the same as Cardiff, AL, that was built in 1913 and burned within a few years. Depot is in bad condition on passenger end but freight end is better.