SAL Abbeville-Ocilla (Ga) Branch : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

Does anyone have any knowledge about the operations of the SAL branch which ran from Abbeville, Ga, on the Savannah-Montgomery line, through Fitzgerald to Ocilla, Ga? What type of motive power, both steam and diesel, did the SAL use here? Was there dedicated passenger service or just a mixed train? I know the Abbeville-Fitzgerald segment was abandoned soon after the 1967 ACL-SAL merger but does anyone know exactly what year? My grandparents live near Ocilla and while I'm not old enough to remember the SAL, I remember the SCL operations on the Fitzgerald-Ocilla segment of the line.

-- Eric Rickert (, July 07, 2001


Eric, you mentioned Lulaville and Bowen's Mill...that reminds me.At one time, there was a small "resort area" at Bowen's Mill. There was at one time a motel and across the highway there were swimming pools and a covered area where I remembered playing pool when I was 8 (1970). I heard that at one time, there was some kind of logging or timber outfit run by the same family that owned the motel/swimming area. If there was a woodyard, it probably would have been serviced by the SAL.I'm not 100% sure on this-just conjecture. Eric-and all of you who, like me, are Ocilla branch fans-be sure and check out Dan Henderson's reply to my Ocilla branch question. He gives a good,detailed reply about the Americus-Ocilla SAL turn, how it operated, and what industries it served south of Fitz. I'd also be curious to find out when the Fitzgerald Cotton Mill stopped shipping by rail. Seems like there used to be a "Danger-SCL" metal sign around the building at one time (I saw it sometime in the 70s).

-- Bud Leggett (, July 20, 2001.

The SAL branch from Abbeville to Ocilla, Ga., was originally the ABBEVILLE & WAYCROSS R.R. Abbeville-Fitzgerald was opened in 1893 and the line was extended to Ocilla in June 1897. In the meantime, the A&W had been sold to the SAL subsidiary GEORGIA & ALABAMA R.R. in August 1896. The G&A was merged into the SAL in July 1900. Passenger service on the branch was provided by a mixed train from as far back as 1924 and passenger service was dropped April 24, 1938. The entire branch was still around at the SCL merger, but Abbeville-Fitzgerald had been abandoned by 1989. "Stations" on the line, from Abbeville, were: Houston(mp 1.1/in 1945 emp tt), Cortes(4.1), Browning(6.0), Forest Glen(9.3), Carswell(11.0), Bowen's Mill(12.4), Queensland(15.8), Lulaville(18.5), Fitzgerald Cotton Mill(19.2/1945 emp tt), Fitzgerald(21.8), Whitley(26.8/a flag stop in 1930's), Willis Lumber(30.3/1945 emp tt) and Ocilla(30.8)

-- Tom Underwood (, July 19, 2001.

Bud, Thanks for responding to my question about the Ocilla Branch. I was also wondering if the SAL once handled sizable lumber traffic over the line. I believe there was once a sawmill at Lulaville, which is between Fitzgerald and Bowen's Mill. Also, before the 1920's there were several other railroads than ran into Ocilla that hauled primarily lumber traffic: Ocilla Southern; the Brunswick and Birmingham/A,B & A line to Irwinville; Fitzgerald, Ocilla and Broxton (whose right of way runs across my Grandpa's farm in Coffee) plus another line that I can't recall that ran to Nashville, Ga. ( I'm realizing as I type this that it's ironic that Ocilla...and nearby Hawkinsville as well..were once served by so many railroads and today they have no rail service at all. ) Do you know if the SAL had significant interchange traffic with above lines? Thanks, Eric

-- Eric Rickert (, July 18, 2001.

Hi,Eric... I can't answer too much of your question (I,too,posted a question about the Ocilla branch)but maybe I can help a little bit. A long,LONG time ago-probably the 20s/30s or earlier, there was indeed dedicated passenger service on the Ocilla branch. I know that because the First State Bank used to have old pictures of Fitzgerald and there was a pic of a train w/Seaboard coaches at the Seaboard east Fitzgerald psgr. sta. I can tell you exactly when the track was pulled up between Fitz and Abbeville:1970, although I'm sure they had stopped running north of the Fitzgerald Cotton Mill well before that. The FCM and the Ocilla traffic, along with the Gold Leaf tobacco barns in East Fitz, were probably why the SAL kept the line-that, and ACL interchange opportunities, no doubt. My uncle has a late 50s/early 60s Fitzgerald High School yearbook with a picture of some teenagers sitting on what looks like a solid-black SAL EMD SW switcher (yes,believe it or not, at one time, railroads actually didn't mind teenagers being near their engines). Well,there's one confirmation for you. Also, the Beckum Seaboard book has a picture of a couple of Alco RS's on a Sav-Mont local and a statement that this train also served the Ocilla branch. I checked out the Old Alabama Rails website and found out that the Seaboard's turtle-speed all-stops passenger local from Sav-Mont (reduced to a motor car and a couple of coaches after WWII) was gone by 1951.Good luck investigating the Ocilla Br.'s history and holler at me if you find out anything additional about it yourself..... Bud Leggett

-- Bud(David L.)Leggett (, July 07, 2001.

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