Clay pit operation near Gordon, Georgia : LUSENET : Central of Georgia Railway Historical Soc : One Thread

Back about 1964-65 I found a clay pit operation near Gordon, Georgia that used a couple of 3' gauge 44 toners to pull strings of four wheel dump cars, all with link & pin couplers. They had a 25? ton GE in reserve and I located a derelict Mack 10-12 ton and a four wheel steam locomotive nearby. I have photos of all of the above but little hard information.

I was wondering if anyone would be familiar with the clay mining in that area and would be willing to help me pin down the operation I photographed.

Thanks for your help. rlh --

-- Robert L. Harris (, October 30, 2002


My dad worked in the mines at Gordon until his retirement in 1969. I have several photos from the 40s while in steam operation. The Gordon Plant for Engelhard (as it is known now) was Southern Clays. Then in early 50s became Freeport Kaolin. About 1982 or 83 was bought by Engelhard. Engelhard's McIntyre plant was "Edgar Brothers" back in the 40's and 50s. Then they went though name changes and so on. In the hay day for Southern Clays, my wife's grand father and great uncle were locomotive engineer and fireman for the line from the Gordon plant to the Griffin mine (located between Gordon and Jeffersonville, Ga.) Steam shovels would load the "boggie" cars and an 0-6-0 tank (they had only 1 0-6-0)would pull the loads out of the pit to the small yard. Then the 0-4-0s (there were 5 0-4-0s "that I know of")would take the loads on to the plant. A train would be 7 cars loaded. *I have photos of this operation and a Film (the film is in bad shape and needs saving) if you know of someone that could help with this, please let me know. The cars were a "side dump" type and would dump in a pit at the plant where the "clay" would start being processed. My oldest brother and some buddies got in bad trouble for putting grease on the rails (there is a big hill going back down to Gordon). This caused a "run away". The train came to a stop after going though the car shop!! I have a photo with 4 trains coming down hill just behind each other. This must have been done just for the photo. My dad had said "when they had trains going to the plant near the same time. One train was to wait at the top of the hill til the 1st got to the plant and clear of the 1st yard track. I could go on and on, so if you'd like to talk more or would like to see a photo or two, feel free to e-mail me. don worthy

-- Donald (, December 10, 2003.


I worked 3rd shift as a yard clerk at Tennille for NS before moving to Atlanta in 1998. I now handle Gordon, Tennille, Wrens, and Millen from Atlanta. Although I never did work at the Gordon depot while I was at Tennille, I became real familiar with the yard and operations before and after moving to Atlanta. I still drive down to the yard several times a year.

Engelhard is the major kaolin processor/shipper at Gordon and Mcintyre. Wilkinson Kaolin at Gordon is another shipper, but only ships a few loads a day. At Mcintyre, there's (along with Engelhard) M&M Clays and Unimin Kaolin.

G16G5 goes on duty at Gordon at 700am, 7 days a week, and takes empties to Mcintyre to be spotted and pulls the loads. After doing the switching, the crew will then shove the loads to Gordon to be weighed and switched. Most of the kaolin loads are in slurry form which go into different volume capacity tankcars, while the other loads are shipped in bulk "powder" form in hoppers, and bagged "powder" form in boxcars. Most of the hopper and boxcar loads go to Savannah for export, while most of the slurry loads go to paper plants and other industries throughout the country and Canada. We have (and still) shipped some loaded hoppers and boxcars to Mexico also.

The kaolin operations at Gordon and Mcintyre are big business for NS. There are times (very few) that I would have so much clay tonnage in Gordon yard that one of the mainline trains who normally picks up a certain destination block of loads just cannot handle it.

-- Jared Blocker (, November 03, 2002.

Robert, Can't give you all the information but the train was used to haul Kaolin from the mining area to Gordon for processing and then shipment by rail on the Central of Georgia (Southern Rwy) just as it is today. Some of the roadbed is still visible and the clay business is still going. They use trucks from the pits to Gordon now, but still ship by rail.Englehard is the main guy in town. Gordon is restoring the depot and will have a small display about the area. Would like to see what you have that you might be willing to share. I live in Macon.

Bill Jones

-- william jones (, November 01, 2002.

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