existing railroads near Athens, GA

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Does anyone know how to find out which railroad in Oconee County, near Athens, runs near the Victoria Station and Broadlands subdivisions?

-- Gary Bohe-Thackwell (garybt@alum.mit.edu), June 09, 2004


My work takes me to the Oconee County courthouse in Watkinsville and the Morgan county courthouse in Madison about twice each month. Recently there was a big controversy in Oconee about the establishment of a hugh landfill/waste disposal site in Oconee. This was not for local garbage but garbage to be transported in from either Atlanta or perhaps New York, etc. It had the local citizenry up in arms, though I doubt a properly operated site would have much impact. At any rate, I overheard two county officials discussing how the whole thing would benefit only one large land owner and the railroad, which would be how the waste would be brought in. The location would be somewhere in the heart of the county which would require rehabilitation of a good part, if not all of the line. I haven't heard yet of the final disposition of this proposal. My feeling that it's rejection would be the death knell for the old line, at least south of Watkinsville. It is in sad shape now, with several grade crossings paved over, tress getting taller between the rails, and it looks like a large nursery operation has fenced in some of the rail line. Oh, yes, NS still gets into Madison on a regular basis, according to my sightings, running to some operation just northeast of town. Arnold Eaves

-- Arnold W. Eaves (aseaves@mindspring.com), June 13, 2004.

During the 1980's I worked with Southern/NS as a clerk and worked quite a bit in Madison. Back then a local operated daily between Macon and Madison and there was also a switch engine that worked Madison. Their chores basically centered around the GP plant. There was a facility in Watkinsville (I think....fading memory) that received cars of corn. If my memory is correct it was called Georgia Turkey Farms. The Madison switch engine would take these cars to Watkinsville when they came in. To my knowledge the line was not operated between Watkinsville and Athens even back then. I applaud any efforts to reactivate a rail line but if activity between Madison and Athens has been as sporadic as reported, it may be an uphill battle.

Bryan Smith

-- Bryan Smith (bry3sm@aol.com), June 12, 2004.

The Madison-Athens line is wholly owned by the Great Walton Railroad, based in Social Circle, Ga.

My sources tell me that there are plans to eventually reopen the entire line from Athens to Madison. However, I have no idea when this will take place, if ever. It hinges on the GWRR being able to scare up enough business along the line to justify reopening it. The largest potential customer is Georgia Pacific, who operates a plant in Madison.

If you want to see alot of fallen flag paint schemes, the GWRR doesn't dissapoint. They are still operating engines in Chessie, CNW, South Carolina Central, RF&P and Rio Grande paint schemes. There is also an old, rusting GP9 on property at Social Circle that is still in C&O paint, but its days have been long numbered and sits in the weeds halfway torn apart as a parts mule.

-- Bart Youngblood (bart99gt@yahoo.com), June 11, 2004.

The short answer is that this track is owned by Norfolk Southern. The section from Oconee County into Athens is leased and operated by a local small company. They may actually have the lease all the way to Madison, though they are only operating the northern end.

The long answer is that it's the Central of Georgia's track. That line ends in Athens at the wye that turns north and merges into the Southern's line to Lula and turns south into the old Southern passenger depot, now the Council on Aging's building. It also interchanges next to a diamond crossing with with the very active Seaboard mainline (now CSX) between Atlanta and Washington. This line runs south out of Athens along side the University, running adjacent to Sanford Stadium on East Campus Road. The line enters Oconee and passes through Watkinsville and Bishop, then continues alongside 441 off and on all the way to Madison, where it's depot sits in sight of the Georgia RR's depot.

Most notable between Athens and Madison is the Farmington Depot south of Watkinsville and Bishop, now a green and yellow bait shop. Much of this line has trees growing in it, though the rumor persists that the same local company who delivers coal to the University from the north is going to clean up the rest of this line and re-open it.

Hope this helps!

Ed Kelly Athens, GA

-- Ed Kelly (ed@brainrock.com), June 10, 2004.

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