Dothan line west of Hartfordgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Central of Georgia Railway Historical Soc : One Thread
I finally got around to making a trip to Lockhart AL this past week looking for remnants of the CofG line that went there. The line was abandoned in the early 1940's west of Hartford but I was hopeing to find traces of where it had been. Nature and man has all but obliterated any traces a rail line ever existed through this area. I saw several "Railroad Streets" in the small towns along the line (Bellwood, Coffee Springs) and several local townsfolk that I asked knew that a railroad used to come through and could point out where it was, but it was extremely hard to see anything resembling a roadbed or rail line. Of railroad interest, the L&N depot in Florala has been restored and serves as the chamber of commerce. The L&N depot in Opp (not on the CofG line) survives as an antique store. The L&N line through Samson (former crossing with the CofG line) looks very lightly used. Weeds have about overtaken the line but it did appear a train had traveled the line recently with ruts cut into the inside of the rails at dirt crossings. Not sure how far east this line survives. The L&N branch going south out of Opp toward Florala has been abandoned also.
Not a very fruitful day but it did satisfy my curiosity. I hope to get back in the fall or winter when the vegetation won't be so thick and maybe some remnants of the CofG line will be more visible.
-- Bryan Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 26, 2001
I remember the Central of Ga. Railroad quite well. My Grandfather was a section forman for the railroad. My only railroad ride was between Coffee Springs and Samson. It cost 12 Cents for the trip. I think that this was round trip fare. My front yard was on the C of Ga.right of way. There was a pickling plant across the road from where I live and there was a walk way from the plant to the railroad. When the pickles were ready for further processing they would be loaded into a vat car and taken to W W Pickling Co. in Montgomery, Al.
-- Richard Smith (email@example.com), August 08, 2004.
My mother grew up in Hartford, and so I became familiar with the area from numerous trips to visit my grandmother there. My first up-close and personal experience with a locomotive was the Hartford & Slocomb's S1 No. 1. I have ever since been very fond of the Hartford & Slocomb and try to gather information and photos of this railroad. In my research I learned something of the history of the Central of Georgia route from which the H&SRR was created.
The March 24, 1899 issue of The Railroad Gazette says "CHATTAHOOCHE & GULF- This company has been incorporated in Alabama with a capital stock of $1,000,000 to build a line from Columbia, termus of a branch of the Central of Georgia, to run west through Henry, Geneva, Covington and Escanaba counties to Flomaton, on the Louisville & Nashville." The charter was issue in July and grading began in October. In the June, 29, 1900 issue of Railroad Gazette: "The Central of Georgia has intered into an agreement with this company to rent its line now building from Columbia, Ala., southwest about 68 miles, via Dothan, to the Pea River. Nearly the entire line is graded. . . The C. of G. will furnish the equipment and guarantees to keep the property in first-class condition and repair.
It has been a few years since I have been to Hartford, but a few traces of the old line west of Hartford should still be clearly visible. There is a spot on Highway 167 north of Hartford and just south of the highway crossing of the Choctawhatchie River where the railroad crossed the highway. The spot is at the crest of a big hill above the Choctawhatchie. This place is (was) called High Bluff. The old roadbed is marked by a line of very old trees bearing southeast toward Hartford. The trees apparently paralleled the railroad at one time. On the west side of the road at the top of the hill there is a house that began life as a Central of Georgia section house. My mother recalls the family that once lived there had daughters that locals referred to as "the Belles of High Bluff." In the mid-80's, the house's CofG architecture was easy to recognize. It has since been extensively remodeled and enlarged and bears little resemblance to its original state.
West of High Bluff on the road to Bellwood there was until recently a one-lane bridge across the Choctawhatchie River that had been the abandoned railroad bridge. This bridge was removed sometime during the 1990s.
The former Central of Georgia depot in Hartford survived as the headquarters and locomotive shop of the Hartford & Slocomb Railroad Company. The building should still be standing as it was recycled as some other type of business after the H&S was abandoned west of Taylor in 1992.
I would enjoy hearing from anybody with pictures or information about the history of this line in its CofG days, or H&S days.
-- Alan Dismukes (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 23, 2002.
According to an early 1900's George Cram map both the Central of GGeorgia and the Louisville and Nashville Railroads used the same track from Samson to a place called Pera west of Pea River. If this map is accurate this line still exists and a part of the old Dothan- Flora line still exists. Does anyone have information on who built this part of the line. I have newspaper accounts that state that the 20 miles east of Florala was obtained by the Central of Georgia from Jackson Lumber Company of Florala. The map scale shows that it is about 20 miles from Pera to Florala. It may be that Jackson Lumber Co. interchanged with the L&N at Pera before selling.
-- steve riley (email@example.com), December 13, 2001.
My great grandfather use to be an engineer on the route from Dothan through Coffee Springs. My father was the minister at Coffee Springs Methodist Church back in the early 1950's. When I was a child about 11 years old we visited Coffee Springs. That's when he told me about his grandfather. We drove across the old iron truss bridge that was once part of the railroad. That bridge was removed several years ago and was moved. Where was it moved to? Going east from the bridge was a steep hill, at times a helper engine would have to come out and help push the train up the hill. According to my father. Unfortunately my father was killed in an accident shortly after that trip to and Coffee Springs and Dothan. He probably had more train storys to tell. He told me that when he was a child he would carry his grandfathers lunch to the station in Dothan. He was allowed in the cab to blow the whistle. I still have my great grandfathers gold Hamilton watch.
-- Tim Carr (Tcarr22239@aol.com), December 05, 2001.
Forgive me for dropping in from left field, but I spotted this post doing a web search on "Coffee Springs." I grew up in Chancellor a few miles from there, and attended school in Coffee Springs until about the seventh grade. My parents and younger brother still live there, all of which seems off-topic, but it isn't. The house I grew up in was and is on the old rail-road right of way.
As a child, I was well aware that the dirt road in front of our house (now paved and known as "Chancellor street" as it runs a few hundred feet parallel to Highway 27. Though the tracks were long gone (I knew them only in tales told by my grandfather, including the sad day when the work train came through to pull up the tracks) we would sometimes find spikes, tie-plates, bolts, and what I believe were "clinkers" from the steam engines, dug up in the red clay by the road graders. I was also facinated by the fact that the survey markings for the lots were made by driving sections of railing into the ground. One such marked the back corner of our property, and my brother and I tried (unsuccessfully) to dig it up one time.
When I was a child, the path of the railroad was much more visible than it is today. The old roadbed in front of the house was converted into roads. The road now ends at the edge of my parent's property, but you used to be able to trace the old roadbed where the road veered in front of my grandparents house a half-mile or so away, and behind my great-uncle's property. There, it went into a cut (now pretty much graded flat, but a wonderful place to play when I was a kid) behind Hilltop store. From there, the old right of way could be seen to make a broad curve near Elbethal(sp?) Church, finally meeting up with the road to Coffee springs a few miles later. I seem to recall that you could see the pilings of an old trestle across the creek just before coming into Coffee Springs, and there used to stand a freight-house or station just before one turned to drive into Samson. Almost off of this is gone now, and the most visible parts of the old right-of-way are being used as roads. I could still take someone and trace the exact route of the tracks though, as they came from Bellwood, into Chancellor, and on through Coffee Springs.
-- J. Steven York (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 10, 2001.