Athens line north of Madison : LUSENET : Central of Georgia Railway Historical Soc : One Thread

I found the following on another railfan board I check from time to time. Looks like NS has leased out the former CofG line between Madison and Athens. I understand that the short line operator that has leased the line intends to operate it all the way from Madison to Athens. I further understand that this line has not been used in several years between Madison and Watkinsville and will, at the least, require a chain saw or two to cut down the trees that have grown up between the rails. I have long thought that this line could be a shortcut from the Greenville/Northeast area to Macon by running via Greenville/Lula/Athens/Macon thus bypassing Atlanta. Like the former CofG line from Chattanooga to Macon which would also bypass Atlanta, I guess the powers that be at NS don't deem them to be viable alternatives. In any event, here's part of the STB's decision:

Full Text of Decision





Surface Transportation Board [STB Finance Docket No. 34118] The Athens Line, LLC-Lease and Operation Exemption-Norfolk Southern Railway Company and Central of Georgia Railroad Company

The Athens Line, LLC (ABR), a noncarrier, has filed a verified notice of exemption under 49 CFR 1150.31 to acquire by lease and to operate adjoining lines of Central of Georgia Railroad Company (CGA) and CGA's parent Norfolk Southern Railway Company (NS) through an operating contract with The Great Walton Railroad Company, Inc. The lines extend between CGA milepost F-75.5 at Madison, GA, to CGA milepost F-106.3 at Athens, GA, (1) and NS milepost NE-39.1 at Athens to NS milepost NE-32.0 at a point designated as Junior State, GA, a distance of approximately 38 miles. The line includes the following stations in Georgia: Bishop, Watkinsville, Whitehall, Athens and Paradise Valley. NS and ABR intend to interchange at either Paradise Valley or Junior State. ABR will grant trackage rights back to NS between NS milepost NE-32.0 and milepost NE-37.4 solely for purposes of interchange. ABR certifies that its projected annual revenues will not exceed $5 million.

The transaction was scheduled to be consummated on or after December 7, 2001, the effective date of the exemption, with ABR's assumption of operations scheduled for December 29, 2001.

-- Bryan Smith (, January 10, 2002


According to Lewis Collier at Memory Station in Watkinsville, Benny Ray Anderson was even interested in trackage rights over NS between Madison and Machen. However, the other week I drove along the CG line that is now his between Bishop and Madison and noticed what poor shape it is in. I think it will take some time and a fair amount of money before trains return to that line.

Conrad..about the Covington line. There is a grain elevator in Newborn that takes 4 or 5 cars of feed. I'm sorry to hear about Williams Brothers shutting down their woodchip operation in Porterdale, for that was by far the largest customer on the line. However, given the transition of Newton Co. from agricultural to suburban these days, I'm not surprised. Unless an industrial park or something opens along this route, I'm afraid it will be the coup de grace.Has there been any talk of abandonment? If so, I'd like to go pay my 'final respects' while the line is still in operation.I grew up 12 miles from Covington, so I remember the CG/Southern operations there and once had a cab ride from Porterdale- Machen and back as a guest of the Great Walton in 1994.

-- Eric Rickert (, March 25, 2002.

B.R. is interested in Madison-Macon, but don't know if NS will lease or sell. He is also interested in Lula-Athens, but NS hasn't wanted to give up the industries from Center-Lula.There is a good variety of business in that area. The Covington line sees little operations, at least into Covington. The old Williams Bros wood operation went belly up. From time to time cars show up on the interchange track. If you don't see the power in Covington check around Newborn & Machen. Last I heard some chicken feed was coming into Newborn.

-- Conrad Cheatham (, March 20, 2002.

As to the possible industry... there is a concrete pipe operation right as you cross the CofGa. Perhaps they landed a big contract that justified rail shipment of stone/cement rather thun trucks from the Hanson quarry in Athens? Pure speculation on my part, of course.

-- Ed Kelly (, January 17, 2002.

Greg, The Greene County Railroad did indeed run between Apalachee and Monroe from 1911 until its abandonment in 1941. The depot in Good Hope is still intact. Don Hensley did a feature on the Greene County RR a few years ago on his Taplines webpage complete with photographs ans timetables. The link is as follows:

About the acquisition of the Athens-Madison CG line, what sort of current/potential traffic is on that line? I know there's a GP board mill in Madison, which NS will no doubt keep access to, and an elevator in Watkinsville that receives covered hoppers of chicken feed. Certainly, there has to be more customers than that for Benny Ray Anderson to reopen the line. Also,is there any talk of NS selling the Madison-Macon portion of this line?

-- Eric Rickert (, January 14, 2002.

Glad to see that trains may again be running through this part of GA. Wasn't there a line running from Apalachee, Ga (on this segment north of Madison) westward through Good Hope to Monroe? (Junction with the old Gainesville Midland?) May have been most recently the Greene Co. RR.

-- Greg Hodges (, January 14, 2002.

Hello,.... I used to work @ Newton county, and the jail is right next to the old CofG line. When I got off work one morning, I talked with one of the engineers that was parked waiting to leave, and asked about possibly riding with them one day. They gave me a number to call to get permission, but I think they made a mistake with it. (Disconnected) I no longer work in Newton co., and whenever I pass through there, there is never a train around. Does anyone know who I could talk to about getting to ride with these fellas one day? The engineer and his helper were really nice, and genuinely concerned with my interest. Thank you, and I'm sorry if I drifted off topic. You're post just reminded me of this. Elton.

-- Elton Rosser (, January 13, 2002.

Bryan, Thanks for the tip. I rode up to Watkinsville today to check it out. Lots of pine trees growing on the tracks, fences built across it, and even one house built so close that the people will be able to look out their bedroom window and see a train about 10 feet away. The Great Walton has moved a couple of engines to Watkinsville (present end of the line due to trees) and they have begun replacing crossties and have Mexicans working to clear the growth. Looks like it is time to dust off the old motorcar and call Mr. Anderson about us maybe taking a tour. As for your thoughts about bypassing Atlanta, the Great Walton already controls the Elberton to Tocca line, the Covington branch, the Hartwell, and the Ga. RR Monroe branch. Mr. Anderson has been associated with the Thoroughbred Shortline program for years. Just watch. I say the Athens to Lulu part of that line will be next. Also, there is some welded rail in place between Wakinsville and Athens and I have been told that they are laying welded rail on the "Elberton Air Line". Later, Glynn

-- Glynn Hartley (, January 12, 2002.

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