The Irwinton Railroad
In 1883 a group of Irwinton business men got together and formed the Irwinton Railroad Company. The citizens of Irwinton were tired of hauling their supplies and passengers up and down the hill to the McIntyre depot. The men forming the corporation were Thomas N. Beall, Alexander Baum, James G. Ockington, Franklin Chambers, John T. Lingo, Joel A. Smith and Joel J. Butler. The company was to sell shares in the railroad to built the tracks and equip a train for the 3 plus mile "extension" of the Central of Georgia Railroad from McIntyre up the hill to Irwinton. It didn't go off as planned, obviously, and in 1909, 26 years later, another shortline railroad was planned for Irwinton.
In 1909 The Irwinton Railway Company was incorporated by James L. Byington, J. W. Lindsey, G. H. Carswell, Ira B. Stinson, Ira E. Burkett, C. H. Parker, B. I. Stevens, R. E. Spears, J. S. Wood and J. W. Rutland. According to the Irwinton Bulletin 12 November 1909, p. 5 the railroad was to "run from a point at or near the railway station on the Central of Georgia Railway Company called McIntyre, in a southwesterly direction to within the corporate limits of the town of Irwinton, at a point to be located in the public street near the Court House Square. The consent of the corporate authorities having been obtained to enter said town, and to pass across, through and over the public square and streets of the same." The amount of capital stock was $15,000. The railway was to run south into Laurens County and haul all cotton and timber from the area as well as haul in supplies.
According to a local newspaper
article written in the 1980s by "The Ol' Wilkinson Wayfairer" by B. Anonymous,
John Sorrel, a civil engineer, did a survey which placed the depot down
the hill from Irwinton. This survey, not pleasing to the stock holders,
resulted in another survey which placed the depot behind the old
gym building near the present day East Wilkinson Library. Bids were advertised
in the Atlanta Constitution May of 1910 "for the grading and laying of
railroad from McIntyre to Irwinton, distance three and half miles. For
full information, write George H. Carswell, Secretary, Irwinton, Ga."
Although another civil engineer recommended the line not to be built because of the steep 400 feet of elevation between Irwinton and McIntyre, it was ignored and a crew of men headed by Andrew Hatfield, started laying the rail. The track started at the old Penny Mine in McIntyre, followed a winding path up the hill into Irwinton and stopped at the library location where a hugh mound of dirt ended the line. This mound of dirt, still here in the 1950's, was an adventurous place to play by the boys at the Irwinton Elementary School.
In 1911 the railroad was ready to operate and started with a used switcher type steam engine and a combination baggage and passenger car purchased from the Central of Georgia for $8,000. The engineer was Forest Dixon. Ralph Culpepper, Sr. was learning the business of running the train from Mr. Dixon. The fireman was Willie Whipple. The post office gave the line a contract to haul the daily mail from Irwinton to McIntyre. Despite the local businessmen placing orders for stock that could be hauled by the rail, the business didn't do as well as expected.
Iin March of 1911, C. O. Hall of Toomsboro, J. H. Plummer of New York, and J. R. Crandall of Midville were interested in locating a railroad route from Athens via Milledgeville, Toomsboro, Dublin and McRae to some point in southwest Georgia or to the gulf coast. They took a road trip and found the route feasible, however there plans appear to be scraped since this railroad was not built.
James L. Byington, the president of the Irwnton Railroad, died in 1912. The much needed extension from Irwinton to Dublin was never built. Emile Johnson took his place as the president of the railroad.
The demise of the Irwinton Railway happened in 1913 with an accident with the morning train on the way to Irwinton. On the train were the engineer Forrest Dixon, fireman Willie Whipple, mail clerk Ike "Squire" Billue and passenger Henry Adkins. Near where the rail crossed Wriley Rd and Boone Hill it was discovered the combine car was on fire. The train was stopped, all four jumped off and put the fire as as best they could and finished the run into Irwinton. When engineer Dixon got to the top of the grade where Parker street and 441 come together today he discovered the brakes had failed. He pushed the Johnson bar (the reverse lever) and the train came to it's last stop in the pile of dirt, putting it's wheels off the tracks.
In July of 1913, Mr. Lee requested a bill to constitute trustees for the stockholders and sell the property to settle debts.
The Lumber Railroad
A.S. Bacon Lumber Company from Savannah contracted to cut timber on Porter Creek and the Big Sandy swamp area in 1913. Using the rail line the company built a paper mill next to the present location of Masonic cemetery and extended the railroad tracks to Porter Creek. Using a sidewinder engine and bogey cars the logs were hauled out. One car had benches on the side for folks to hitch a ride. After 3 years the timber was cut and the company moved on.
Thus the short-lived railroads passed into history.
Sources: (from Mark Byington)Irwinton
Bulletin 12 November 1909, p. 5:(from Mark Byington) "The Ol' Wilkinson
Wayfairer" by B. Anonymous (from the Wilkinson County News 1980's); Atlanta
Constitution March 29, 1911; Augusta Chronicle, February 6, 1912; Atlanta
Constitution July 1, 1913; Acts and Resolutions of the General Assembly,
Georgia's Virtual Library; Victor Davidson History of Wilkinson County;
Traffic Department of the Central of Georgia Railroad Chicago: Poole
Brothers, 1901?, Alabama Department of Archives and History; clip art -
Chronicle and Constitutionalist
The question of building a railroad from Tenille on the Central to Union Point has been agitated for several years. This road running south from Tennille would connect with the contemplated roads to Wrightsville, Dublin and Cochran, on the Brunswick road. We learn that a meeting of the men of means of Irwinton, Sparta, White Plains, Warthern and Sandersville will be called for the purpose of starting the enterprise.
AND RESOLUTIONS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF
THE STATE OF GEORGIA. 1882-83.
TITLE II. RAILROAD AND CANAL COMPANIES.
1882 Vol. 1 -- Page: 217
Sequential Number: 192
Short Title: TO INCORPORATE THE IRWINTON
Law Number: No. 167.
Full Title: An Act to incorporate the Irwinton Railroad Company.
Section I. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Georgia, That Thomas N. Beall, Alexander Baum, James G. Ockington, Franklin Chambers, John T. Lingo, Joel A. Smith and Joel J. Butler, and such other persons as may be associated with them, be, and they are hereby constituted a body politic and corporate under the name of "The Irwinton Railroad Company," to continue to them and their successors in office for the term of fifty years, and as such corporation may sue and be sued, plead and be impleaded, in the courts of this State; may have and use a common seal; may purchase, hold and convey any real or personal property necessary or convenient to the purpose of this charter, and may exercise in general all powers and privileges incident to similar corporations.
Sec. II. Be it further enacted, That said company shall have power and authority to organize as a board of directors, to continue in office until there shall be a regular election of directors under the provisions of this charter, and the by-laws to be adopted by said company; to open books of subscription for the capital stock of said company, which shall be divided into shares of one hundred dollars each, and shall not exceed twenty-five thousand dollars; to issue bonds, borrow money and make all other contracts necessary for the furtherance of the purposes of this charter.
Sec. III. Be it further enacted, That said company shall have power and authority to survey, lay out, construct, equip, and operate a railroad from the right of way of the Georgia Central Railroad at station number sixteen of said railroad, in the county of Wilkinson, to Irwinton in said county, by any convenient and practicable route which may be selected, and to transport and carry over said railroad passengers and freight for reasonable compensation.
Sec. IV. Be it further enacted, That in the election of the board of directors, each share of the capital stock of said company shall entitle the holder to one vote, which may be cast in person by the holder thereof or by proxy, as said holder may deem proper or convenient.
Sec. V. Be it further enacted, That questions of right of way which cannot be settled by agreement between the parties shall be arbitrated as follows: one arbitrator shall be selected by the land-owner, his agent or attorney, and one by said company, who shall consider and determine the damages if they are able to agree upon the same, if unable to agree these two shall select a third arbitrator, and a majority of the three shall assess the damages, either party being entitled to appeal to the superior court of said county of Wilkinson within ten days after notice of the decision of the arbitrators, which notice shall be given by said arbitrators in writing as soon as practicable after making the decision; provided, nevertheless, that said right of way shall not extend more than fifty feet from the centre of the track on each side of said railroad.
Sec. VI. Be it further enacted, That said company shall have full power and authority to run over or cross any of the public roads in said county or public streets of said town of Irwinton which may be in the route of said railroad as located and determined by the engineers of said company.
Sec. VII. Be it further enacted, That said
company shall have power to make and enforce such by-laws as shall be necessary
and proper for the government of said corporation.
[Sidenote: May make and enforce needed by-laws.]
Sec. VIII. Be it further enacted, That all laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act be, and the same are hereby repealed.
Approval Date: Approved September 12, 1883.
Petition for Incorporation
GEORGIA - Wilkinson County,
To the Honorable Philip Cook, Secretary of the State:
The petition of J. L. Byington, J. W. Lindsey,
G. H. Carswell, Ira B.
Stinson, Ira E. Burkett, C. H. Parker, B. I. Stevens, R. E. Spears, J. S.
Wood and J. W. Rutland show -
That they are residents of Irwinton and of said State and County,
That they desire to form a Railroad Corporation
pursuant to the provisions
of the law of the State of Georgia,
That the name of said Railroad Company for
which petitioners thus seeks
incorporation is to be "IRWINTON RAILWAY COMPANY," the same not being the
name of any existing railway corporation in the State of Georgia,
That the length of said railroad as near
as can be estimated will be about
THREE AND THREE-FOURTHS MILES (3 3/4.),
That said railroad will be located entirely
within Wilkinson County, and
will run from a point at or near the railway station on the Central of
Georgia Railway Company called McINTYRE, in a southwesterly direction to
within the corporate limits of the town of IRWINTON, at a point to be
located in the public street near the Court House Square. The consent of
the corporate authorities having been obtained to enter said town, and to
pass across, through and over the public square and streets of the same.
The amount of capital stock of said Railway
Company is FIFTEEN THOUSAND
DOLLARS in shares of ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS EACH, all of said stock to be
common stock of equal dignity.
The petitioners desire to be incorporated
as aforesaid for and during the
term of ONE HUNDRED AND ONE YEARS.
The principal office of the proposed corporation
will be in the town of
That the petitioners do intend in good faith
to go forward without delay
to secure subscriptions to the capital stock, contract, equip, maintain
and operate said railway,
That petitioners have given four week's notice
of their intention to apply
for a charter by publication as required by law.
WHEREFORE they pray to be INCORPORATED under
the laws of the State of
Georgia; George H. Carswell, J. L. Byington, Ira E. Burkett, J. W.
Lindsey, I. B. Stinson, C. H. Parker, B. I. Stevens, R. E. Spears, J. S.
Wood, J. W. Rutland.
GEORGIA - WILKINSON COUNTY:
Before me, J. E. Butler, Ordinary in and
for said county, an officer of
said State duly authorized by law to administer oaths, personally comes,
J. W. Lindsey, G. H. Carswell and J. L. Byington, who on oath say that the
names subscribed to the petition to which this affadavit is attached, are
genuine signatures of the persons named therein, that the facts stated in
this petition are true to the best of deponents' knowledge, information
Geo. H. Carswell,
J. L. Byington,
J. W. Lindsey
Sworn to and subscribed before me this the 18th day of October, 1909.
J. E. Butler, Ordinary
(submitted by Mark Byington)
Eileen B. McAdams Copyright 2005