Gainesville to North Helen

  • Quick Info:
  • States: Georgia   
  • Railroads: G&NW   

(Forwarded from the Gainesville & Northwestern Railway)

This abandoned railway went from a connection with the Gainesville Midland in Gainesville to North Helen, and was built in the 1912-1914 time period. It went through these towns: New Holland, Clark, Autry, Dewberry, Brookton, Clermont, County Line, Campground, Meldean, Cleveland, Asbestos, Mt. Yonah, Yonah, Nacoochee, and Helen.

The line was abandoned in 1932 - 1933.

Does anyone have any pictures of this line or why it was abandoned? On a trip to Hiawassee I recall going up a mountain road and finding 3 abandoned passenger cars. I'm sure one was a diner since it had a kitchen and table area but it was so destroyed. They had faded CSX markings on them so they must have been left fairly recently. Does anyone know if those cars are still there and who they belong to or what railroad and how they got there?

Joshua
Conyers, GA
8/9/2011

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Joshua, where was the road at in Hiawassee that you found the 3 passenger cars? I may be able to find some of the info you are looking for.

Stan
Rockmart, GA
8/6/2012

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Are there any way this could be a rails to trails project ?Please contact me if anyone hinks thiswill be a good idea .

lee
Hartwell, GA
1/13/2013

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According to Gordon Sawyer in _Northeast Georgia: A History_:

The 37 mile long Gainesville & Northwestern was originally built primarily to serve the Byrd-Matthews, later Morse Bros. lumber mill. The mill was served by a network of ultimately some 150 mi of narrow-gage logging railroads, apparently using the G&NW mainly to ship its product out via the connection at Gainesville.

It also had passenger service and excursions to serve the tourism that quickly sprang up in the region once the railroad made it accessible.

A branch from Clermont served a pyrites mine

The Morse Bros. mill closed in 1928, which virtually shut down the G&NW. However, a bus on railroad wheels called the "Yellow Hammer" ran the line carrying passengers and mail into the mid 1930's.

The railroad's logo, prominently displayed on its locomotives, was a symbol sacred to Indians of the region, a kind of cross. Soon after the railroad closed, the same symbol was adopted by someone else in Europe, and the swastika cross innocently displayed by the G&NW became infamous for its later associations.

Mitch Bailey
Lexington Cty, SC
1/13/2013

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Do you have any maps of the railroad or shar any pictures if you have any .Can it possiby be a rails to trails project ?It would be great if there sometype of railroad equipment left on it such asa rail or old cars or sidin and old switches .

lee johnson
hartwell, GA
1/13/2013

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There is nothing left of the railroad, other than some traces of the roadbed, if you know where to look. A couple of the roads around Helen/Robertstown are built upon grades of the old railbed. Going north on the Chattahoochee several miles until the forest service road leaves the river, and then hiking/fishing up the creek, there are some rails sticking out of the river from the early part of the century when the logging railroad went that far back in the mountains. Likely, these rails must be over 100 years old!

As for pictures, get the Gainesville Midland CD- it has some pictures of the narrow gauge railroad, and some of the early standard gauge engines from before WW1.

Matthew
Hiawassee , GA
4/15/2013

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BTW, the passenger cars that you saw either must have been in Cornelia at the old terminus of the Tallula Falls RR, or maybe the feller that put up that engine between Helen and Cleveland, which has nothing to do with the old G&NW.

Matthew
Hiawassee, GA
4/15/2013

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I found that those passenger cars are on the old Georgia northeastern in Rocky shoals Georgia or something.

Joshua
Conyers , GA
6/20/2014

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In January 1916, Miles Arthur Hogan, left Florida to return to Mossy Creek, White County, Georgia to visit his parents. He arrived by rail. This must have been the line. Thank you so much for posting this. Since the line was abandoned in the early 30's, I never learned much about it.

Rebecca
Dalton, , GA
7/23/2015

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I am a 3rd great grandson of Alfred Mel Dean, whose land the Meldean Station was a part of. The 270 acre farm near the Hall County line is still in our family and my dad (born in 1942) recalls playing on the old rail beds on the western side of the farm. I have gone back into the woods many times looking for where I thought they may have been but never can seem to find them. Mel Dean was a farmer by trade, his father having been in the CSA and captured at Atlanta and died as a POW at Camp Chase in Ohio. When that happened, Mel was just a boy and had to take over the farm. He lived to be an old man in 1940. What I wouldn't give to talk to him about those early days of the railroad coming through his property.

Chuck Henderson
Tampa, FL, FL
12/8/2015

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Do you have any pictures or information about Gainesville to North Helen? Please . You will get credit for anything you contribute.