Traffic on Columbus - Chattanooga line : LUSENET : Central of Georgia Railway Historical Soc : One Thread

What type of freight was hauled on the Columbus - Chattanooga line?

-- Richard Lasater (, July 18, 2002


After the Hapeville Ford plant was built in the 1950's, automobile parts traffic was an significant source of revenue from the Chattanooga-Griffin line.

According to Joe Shirley, CofGa's Terminal Trainmaster from January 1, 1958 until the merger, automobile parts cars for Hapeville followed one of two routes, depending on the location of the parts factory.

Some parts came from the upper Midwest on the L&N and were interchanged with the Central in Chattanooga. From there Central freight train number 44 carried them to Griffin, and Macon-Atlanta train number 39 brought them on into Industry Yard. Other parts came to Atlanta on Southern's train 51, nicknamed the "Spark Plug."

Mr. Shirley remembered several times when it looked like a shipment of auto parts would arrive too late. He had the car set out in a town along the route, for example Cedartown, and sent a truck from the CofGa Motor Transport Company to off-load the parts and expedite them to Hapeville.

From "Joe Shirley - A Life in the Day of the Central," The Right Way, Vol. 2, No. 2.

Ron. Wright

-- Ron. Wright (, July 18, 2002.

A few details about one train on the Griffin-Chattanooga line, from the DOT Special Collections:

On February 7 1939, No. 29 was a west-bound second-class freight train, consisting of 29 cars and a caboose, hauled by 2-8-2 type engine 637. This train left Griffin at 11:25 a.m., 6 hours 55 minutes late.

The consist was not described in any more detail.

The reason that the train is mentioned is that it derailed in Sargent, resulting in three killed.

Ron. Wright

-- Ron. Wright (, July 31, 2002.

I can only immagine how noisy it must have been to live in Arnco- Sargent are of Newnan and over in Senoia or Brooks when the C-Line was that busy. If they do ever rebuild that line and open it back up for overflow freights, I know where I will end up building my house as well. For now I'm living beside the A&WP about half a mile North of the CofG/A&WP Diamond in Newnan. Mostly through traffic with Union Pacific power. The locals use CSX B30-7s. While I would like to see the C-Line rebuilt, it still wouldn't be the same. Most through- freights on NS today are all new Wide-Nose power with an occasional Conrail or "Rent-A-Wreck" lashup. I miss the High-Hood GP38s with the un-turbocharged prime-movers. The High-Hood and the sound reminded me of the GP9s I used to see growing up on the old Chessie System line in Kentucky. The locals on the line today are pulled by a High-Hood SD40 with SOU sub-lettering under the cab window and occasionally a Low-Hood Geep with NW sub-lettering under the cab window. It's been awhile since I've seen any activity on the line, but those are the locomotives I remember seeing the last couple of times I saw any activity on the line. It seems like they change the power often.

Jon "In all of your getting, get understanding." Proverbs 4:7

-- Jon Vanover (, July 25, 2002.

Since the original question addressed the Columbus - Chattanooga line, I used Trains 89 and 90, operating between Columbus and Cedartown to provide some information. In addition, through freights 29 and 44 operated on the C-line between Griffin and Chattanooga with crew change in Cedartown, local freights 36 and 37 operated between Cedartown and Griffin, and thru locals 99 and 100 operated between Cedartown and Chattanooga. There were variations to these schedules over the years, but this is representative of the operation.

On Friday, 10/27/61, #36 departed Cedartown at 8am with engines 151 and 108, 3 loads (limestone for Buchanan, feed and salt for Bowdon - interchange with the Bowdon Railroad at Bowdon Junction?) and 13 mtys (mty box for Bremen, 3 mty boxes for Carrollton, 2 mty boxes and 6 mty hoppers for interchange with the ACL at Senoia, and an mty box for Watkinsville) with cab X13.

From Buchanan they moved an mty tank for Bremen (Southern interchange) and 6 wood for Krannert (most likely left at Bremen or East Bremen for w/b movement). From Carrollton they moved 4 mty boxes (2 Atlanta and 2 Macon) and a reefer loaded with canned goods (most likely a stop-off car) for Macon.

From Newnan they moved an mty gon and an mty box for Macon along with a box loaded with baled cotton for Porterdale.

Next stop, Raymond, where they picked up 3 flats loaded with tanks (I would assume liquid holding, not military) and 7 mty woodracks for Brooks Woodyard.

From the ACL interchange at Senoia, 36's crew moved CWC 5411 and ACL 6409 hoppers loaded with stone for Rome along with ACL 91507 gon loaded with sand for Bremen (that info is for you, Larry). Don't forget, 36 had eight cars to leave on the ACL interchange.

Last working stop, Brooks Woodyard, where 12 loaded racks were pulled and the 7 mty racks from Raymond were left. From the number of loads, I'd speculate that 36 and 37 were operating every other day at this time. Even though the timetable would show Daily Ex. Sun. schedules, one side of the schedule would be annulled.

At 5:40pm, 36 arrived Griffin with 14 loads and 7 mtys (at least based on my assumptions regarding the cars pulled from the interchange track at Senoia - most likely these cars would be handled to Griffin and back-hauled rather than shoving back to the house track or siding at Senoia).

The next day, Saturday, 10/28/61, 37 departed Griffin at 11:15am with engines 108 and 151, 40 loads and 7 mtys, 3185 tons, cab X13.

First and only pickup stop, Senoia, to pull six hoppers loaded with stone for Rome from the ACL interchange (ACL 7956, ACL 6677, CWC 5160, L&N 64705, L&N 152968, ACL 6410). I can imagine how those two RS-3s must have sounded as they struggled with 46 loads and 7 mtys (3675 tons) up the grade from the 270.5 (Senoia) to the 273 milepost and again from 281 (Raymond) to 285.5 (East Newnan).

Since it was Saturday afternoon when 37 arrived Newnan, it wouldn't surprise me if the five Newnan cars were set out on the New Track or taken on to Yates (37 had 7 H coal for Yates) to come back on Monday.

The same may not have been true for Carrollton; there were two aluminum for Southwire, a trailing point switch for 37, which may have been spotted. The load of coal for one of the two coal dealers may have been left on the house track.

Next stop, Bowdon Junction, L&N 16137 B roofing and L&N 37910 CH feed for Bowdon (again, quite possibly for interchange to the Bowdon Ry). Then to Bremen, where the ACL gon loaded with sand was left.

37 would arrive Cedartown with 28 loads, 7 mtys, 2400 tons.

In my postings, I've covered "typical" (actually, what I have) examples of trains 80 / 89 and 36 / 37. Remember that the through freights, 29 and 44, were also operating, usually with four engines and 85 to 115 cars.

-- David Payne (, July 24, 2002.

I knew there were always locals that operated the C-Line, but I never immagined that it was ever that busy. Today it looks like arun-down industrial spur. It has been over a year now since I have seen any activity on the line East of Newnan. The trackage from the CofG/A&WP Diamond to Senoia is showing some weeds and kudzu through the roadbed. I'm in Senoia at least once a week on my route and Winpack is still very busy with several Covered Hoppers parked on the siding in Senoia. I would have loved to have been around in the 1950s to have seen the C-Line in her "Glory Days." I was speaking with Bob up at Riverdale Station recently and he told me that the Crossing Gates at Brooks still goes off during lightning storms despite the line being severed at both ends East of Senoia. Kinda tempts me to write some railroad Ghost Stories. :)

Jon "In all of your getting, get understanding." Proverbs 4:7

-- Jon Vanover (, July 23, 2002.

I was asked, "David, I've been wondering about trips to Columbus. Were these made up at Cedartown or Chattanooga? What direction was the bulk of traffic? I would assume Griffin? Also did they change crews at Raymond when going to Columbus?"

Since the questions are pertinent to the original question, I thought I would answer it here.

Number 90, the Cedartown to Columbus train, was built at Cedartown. Cars out of Chattanooga for Columbus might come in on either the Chattanooga to Cedartown thru local (#100, was #90 at one time) or be set off by #44.

The majority of the traffic through Cedartown was via Griffin. As Ron pointed out, there was Hapeville Ford Plant business that was handled on #38 and later #44. There was also a lot of Macon business. The Cedartown trains terminated and orginated (#29) at Griffin, thus the large yard there.

The labor agreement set up the 89 and 90 operation with one crew from the Columbus seniority board and the other from the Cedartown seniority board. It was about 72 miles from each terminal to Raymond. Most often, these trains operated Monday through Saturday with crews leaving their respective terminals on MWF and returning on TTS.

I've been told of these trains operating in as many as FIVE sections during the forties. The regular train would operate through Raymond. The extra sections were actually "Raymond Turns" and the crews would swap trains and return to their respective terminals.

This practice continued in the fifties and early sixties. On many Sundays, when 89 and 90 were scheduled "Daily Ex Sun", extra trains would be operated out of Columbus and Cedartown as "Raymond Turns." They would meet in Raymond, swap trains and return to their home terminals. This would help ensure that Monday's 89 and 90 were a manageable size.

-- David Payne (, July 19, 2002.

Much of the westbound business handled by #89 between Columbus and Cedartown and by #99 from Cedartown to Rome was pulpwood for the (then) Georgia Kraft paper mill at Krannert. The same was true to a lesser degree for #100 between Chattanooga and Rome. This would mean, of course, that #90 from Cedartown to Columbus would handle mty racks from Rome to the woodyards on the line. These trains would also handle various through movements.

On 4/30/61, #90 left Cedartown with 20 Columbus cars: 3 G company ties, 1 B canned goods, 2 H mty, 2 B boxes, 1 T mty, 6 WR mty, 2 B rayon, 1 F mty, 1 B soap, 1 B liquor. It also had 5 cars for Newnan, 17 WR left at Bremen for #36, 2 Carrollton cars, 1 Bowdon car (interchange at Bowdon Jct to the Bowdon Railroad? -or- for Bowdon Jct?) and 1 Bremen car for interchange to Southern.

The engines were 148-108-146-175-150 with cab X13.

Seventeen cars were moved from Yates: 10 H Columbus, 2 H Raymond (chip loading), 1 B Arnco, 4 B Newnan. Two B mty were moved from Newnan for Columbus. Nineteen H mty were moved from Raymond for Columbus along with 1 WR wood also for Columbus. One WR wood was moved from Primrose to Columbus. Finally, one B cotton was moved from Greenville to Columbus.

#90 departed Cedartown at 5:35 am and arrived Columbus at 6:45 pm.

On the next day's return trip, #89 departed Columbus at 6:45 am with engines 129 and 123, cab X13, and 39 cars: 11 loads, 16 mtys, and 12 company stone. On the rear of the train for Chattanooga: 1 CH mty, 1 B tile, 2 B brick, 1 R mty, and 1 B paper, along with 1 B mty LaFayette, 1 T gas Cedartown, 1 CH salt Trion, 1 CH soda Krannert, 1 F mty Rome, and 1 B paper Rome. There were also 3 cars for Carrollton, 1 Newnan (brick) for the A&WP, the 12 company stone for Durand, 5 WR mty for Hamilton, and 6 WR mty for Greenville.

They moved 7 WR wood from Hamilton, 12 WR wood from Greenville, 3 H chips from Raymond, 5 B mty and 4 WR wood from Newnan, 10 WR wood from Carrollton, and fifteen various cars from Bremen (Southern interchange?).

There was less pulpwood business on the "north end" between Rome and Chattanooga. There were two woodyards just north of LaFayette compared to five or six woodyards between Cedartown and Columbus (Buchanan, Carrollton, Newnan, Greenville(Allie), Pine Mountain, Hamilton).

Much of the business on the Chattanooga District was handled in boxcars; Bigelow-Sanford (carpet) at Lyerly, Berryton Mills (cotton), Summerville Cotton Mill, Riegel Textile (cotton) at Trion, Barwicks (auto carpets) at LaFayette, Crystal Springs Bleachery (cotton) at Chickamauga. Associated with these industries were loads of coal, starch, soda, bleach, caustic soda, etc. handled in hoppers, covered hoppers, and tank cars. And most of these towns had building supply companies that would receive lumber and sand.

-- David Payne (, July 19, 2002.

I am one of the least capable of answering this question but I will get the ball rolling. My association with the CofG was as a train watcher from childhood in the Walker County/Rossville, GA area. I don't know what kind of through freight they hauled, but there were several active industrial sidings in Rossville well into the 50's. A coal yard was wedged between McFarland Road and the main line on the south end of the city. They often had one or two hoppers sitting on the ramp there. Right beside it a curved siding came off at a steep downgrade to service the Standard-Coosa-Thatcher yarn mill. A couple of hundred yards north the main line passed right beside the Peerless Woolen Mill. They had their own coal ramp as well as a long loading dock for shipping their products. These were fascinating to a kid passing by because the products for shipment descended long escalator-type coveyors from what was either a second or third floor of the mill. There may have been a siding or two for other textile mills but I can't remember for sure. After the main line passed through "downtown" Rossville, there was yet another siding for a large coal yard. If you are familiar with Rossville, the coal yard was located where the Food Lion grocery store is now. The siding was disconnected long ago but the rails stayed in place for many years. As best I can recall (this is a loooonngg time ago) that coal yard did not have a ramp. I believe the hoppers discharged into a drop pit with conveyors to distribute to the correct pile, based on size and grade of coal. I think these examples are probably typical for the whole Chattanooga line. I know there were also large textile mills in Chicamauga, Lafayette, and Trion that were serviced by the CofG. One note on those coal yards. Some younger fans may not realize that coal yards were once just an integral part of a community as a Home Depot or Wal-Mart is today. The yards made deliveries to off- line or small user companies and also made regular deliveries to many homes to fuel their furnace. The yards also did a pretty good walk- in business as some people only needed a pick-up truck load or even less to meet their needs. People had their own preference as to type of coal and size also. Some yards offered pre-packaged coal in heavy duty paper bags of about 50 pound size also. At least this is how I remember it. I look forward to hearing additional input from others! Arnold Eaves Woodstock, GA

-- Arnold Eaves (, July 18, 2002.

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