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Central of Georgia Railway
1903 Poor's Central of Georgia Railway.jpg
1903 map of the Central of Georgia Railway
'Central of Georgia' sign painted on the underside of arch spanning West Boundary Street. - Central of Georgia Railway, 1860 Brick Arch Viaduct, Spanning West Boundary Street and HAER GA,26-SAV,18-9.tif
CG Railway logo under one of the historic viaducts in Savannah.
Headquarters Savannah, Georgia
Reporting mark CG
Locale Georgia, Alabama
Dates of operation 1895–1963
Successor split between Southern Railway later Norfolk Southern and St. Louis-San Francisco Railway then Burlington Northern now BNSF
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Previous gauge 5 ft (1,524 mm),
civil war era
and4 ft 9 in (1,448 mm)
Length 1,944 miles (3,129 km) in 1929

The Central of Georgia Railway (reporting mark CG) started as the Central Rail Road and Canal Company in 1833. As a way to better attract investment capital, the railroad changed its name to Central Rail Road and Banking Company of Georgia. This railroad was constructed to join the Macon and Western Railroad at Macon, Georgia, in the United States, and run to Savannah. This created a rail link from Chattanooga, on the Tennessee River, to seaports on the Atlantic Ocean. It took from 1837 to 1843 to build the railroad from Savannah to the eastern bank of the Ocmulgee River at Macon; a bridge into the city was not built until 1851.

During the Savannah Campaign of the American Civil War, conducted during November and December 1864, federal troops tore up the rails and converted them into "Sherman's neckties."

Despite the similarity between the two names, the Georgia Central Railway has no ties with the Central of Georgia Railway.


Over the years, this railroad steadily acquired other railroads by either lease or purchase:

  • Augusta and Savannah Railroad 1862
    • Augusta and Waynesboro Railroad 1857
  • Eatonton Branch Railroad 1855
  • Milledgeville and Eatonton Railroad 1855
  • Milledgeville and Gordon Railroad 1855
  • Mobile and Girard Railroad 1886
    • Girard Railroad 1857
  • Savannah and Tybee Railroad 1890
  • Savannah and Western Railroad 1890
    • Chattanooga, Rome and Columbus Railroad 1891
      • Rome and Carrollton Railroad 1887
    • Columbus and Rome Railroad 1888
      • Columbus and Atlanta Air Line Railroad 1879
        • North and South Railroad of Georgia 1877
    • Columbus and Western Railroad 1888
      • Savannah and Memphis Railroad 1880
    • East Alabama Railroad 1888
      • East Alabama and Cincinnati Railroad 1880
  • Savannah, Griffin and Northern Alabama Railroad 1890
  • Southwestern of Georgia Railroad 1869
    • Montgomery and Eufaula Railroad 1879
    • Muscogee Railroad 1868
    • Vicksburg and Brunswick Railroad 1879
    • Southwestern Railroad 1869
  • Upson County Railroad 1891
    • Barnesville and Thomaston Railroad 1860

Corporate history

In 1888 the Richmond Terminal Company, a Virginia holding company, gained control of the Central. The financial problems of the parent company forced the CofG into bankruptcy, and it was sold at foreclosure three years later, being reorganized as the Central of Georgia Railway on November 1, 1895.

Central of Georgia Railway Man O War 1951
Postcard depiction of the streamliner Man o' War.

The famous passenger train the Nancy Hanks ran from Atlanta to Savannah, via Macon. Another notable train was the Man o' War, a Columbus - Atlanta route, via Newnan. Both of these trains were named after prize-winning racehorses.

In 1907 railroad magnate and financier E. H. Harriman gained a controlling interest in the railway, and in 1909 sold his interest to the Illinois Central Railroad, which he also controlled. In 1932, during the Great Depression, the CofG went into receivership, from which it did not emerge until 1948. In 1956, the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (“Frisco”), seeking a route to Atlantic Ocean ports, gained control of the CofG, but the Interstate Commerce Commission declined to approve a merger of the two roads, so the Frisco sold its CofG stock to the Southern Railway in 1963.

3 Nancy Hanks II Photos (25193030620)
The Nancy Hanks, 1967

At the end of 1956 the CofG operated 1,764 miles (2,839 km) of road and 2,646 miles (4,258 km) of track; that year it reported 3208 million net ton-miles of revenue freight and 73 million passenger-miles. Those totals do not include the 144-mile (232 km) S&A, the 10-mile (16 km) L&W, the 20-mile (32 km) WS or the 36-mile (58 km) W&T.

The Central became a Southern Railway subsidiary on June 17, 1963. In 1971 the Southern formed the Central of Georgia Railroad to merge the Central of Georgia Railway, the Savannah and Atlanta Railway, and the Wrightsville and Tennille Railroad.

Today the Central of Georgia exists only as a paper railroad within the Norfolk Southern Railway group. 42 miles (68 km) of the CofG's former mainline are currently leased by the Chattooga and Chickamauga Railway from the State of Georgia.

Preserved historic sites

A number of former properties of Central of Georgia are preserved as historic sites. These include the following, listed on the National Register of Historic Places:

Heritage units

On April 5, 2012, Norfolk Southern unveiled NS 8101, a GE ES44AC painted in the scheme found on Central of Georgia's diesel locomotives. It was the fourth of twenty units that NS painted in the colors of their predecessors.

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