The Augusta, Gibson & Sandersville Railroad was incorporated January 8, 1884, and construction began that year. The narrow-gauge road was opened on November 28, 1886, starting from Augusta, through Keysville to Sandersville (80 miles). Other towns on the line included Hepzibah, Blythe, Noah, Matthews, Wrens, Avera, Gibson, Hadden, Belle Springs, Mitchell, Agricola, Chalker, Warthen and Silas; the routing roughly followed present-day GA Highways 88, 102 and 15. A planned extension to Albany via Hawkinsville never materialized. The road entered receivership January 1, 1892, was sold February 20, 1893 and organized as the Augusta Southern on May 1, 1893.
The Augusta Southern converted the line to standard gauge by September 30, 1893. It leased the 4-mile Sandersville & Tennille Railroad on August 8, 1893. The AS was leased to the South Carolina & Georgia Railroad on March 1, 1897, and became part of the Southern Railway System along with the rest of the SC&G on May 1, 1899. It resumed independent operation on April 25, 1901, when the Southern bought SC&G outright and annulled the lease on the AS. Prior to that Southern had purchased controlling interest in the AS and operated it as an independent subsidiary (independent of the SC&G, that is) until 1917. In 1905, a section of the line SE of Keysville, including the trestle over Briar Creek, was abandoned and replaced with a line directly east to the Augusta & Florida (later the Georgia & Florida) line between Keysville and Midville (see USGS maps below). The section from the G&F main south of the Keysville to Sandersville was abandoned in the 1930s.
On March 25, 1917, Southern sold its holdings in the AS to the receivers of the Georgia & Florida Railway (which used the AS for access to Augusta via trackage rights from Keysville) for $250,000 cash. The company was operated by the G&F beginning April 1, 1917. It entered receivership and was sold at public auction October 7, 1919, and was purchased once again by the G&F and essentially became part and parcel of the G&F.
The Georgia & Florida Railway was chartered July 7, 1907 and purchased the Augusta & Florida Railway, the Atlantic & Gulf Short Line, the Millen & Southeastern Railroad, the Hazelhurst Division of the Ocilla & Valdosta Railroad, the Douglas, Augusta & Gulf Railway, the Nashville & Sparks Railroad and the Valdosta Southern Railway, effective August 8, 1907. These companies began operating as the Georgia & Florida Railway on October 1, 1907, and were connected by newly constructed track and operated as a single entity on July 1, 1910. The G&F purchased the Sparks Western Railway on December 4, 1910, and as mentioned above, the Augusta Southern on October 7, 1919. The Statesboro Northern Railroad was purchased in 1924, and the G&F built an extension from Augusta to Greenwood, SC, and opened this line on June 1, 1929.
The Augusta & Florida built the section of what became the G&F from Midville to Keysville after 1895 and before 1905. The A&F apparently used trackage rights over the AS to reach Augusta. Towns on the line going north from Midville were Magruder, Rosier, Vidette, Gough, St. Clair and into Keysville. The Southern Railway formed the Georgia & Florida Railway in February 1962 to acquire the road and sell it to three other roads controlled by Southern: Live Oak, Perry & Gulf, Carolina & North Western, and South Georgia. The transfer of the G&F to these 3 roads occurred on July 1, 1963. On June 1, 1971, the Georgia & Florida Railway was merged into the Central of Georgia Railroad, another subsidiary of the Southern. The SC portion of the G&F was abandoned in the 1970s. The section of the former G&F from Midville through Keysville to Hepzibah was abandoned in the 1980s.
Thanks to Julian Finley for contributing information about this route.