Georgia and Florida Railroad (1926–63)
|Georgia & Florida Railroad|
|Dates of operation||1926–1963|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Length||502 miles (808 kilometres)|
The Georgia & Florida Railroad (reporting mark GF) was a railroad operating in the southern U.S. with headquarters in Augusta, Georgia. It was operated independently until acquired by the Southern Railway in 1963.
John Skelton Williams, former president of the Seaboard Air Line Railway, proposed in 1906 to assemble a railroad from Columbia, South Carolina, to a port to be developed on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. To form the Georgia & Florida Railway, he acquired four short lines:
- the Augusta & Florida Railway: Keysville-Swainsboro, Georgia
- the Millen & Southwestern Railway: Millen-Pendleton-Vidalia, Georgia
- the Douglas, Augusta & Gulf Railroad: Hazlehurst-Nashville-Sparks, Georgia; and
- the Valdosta Southern Railway (Valdosta, Georgia-Madison, Florida).
In addition, the four railroads included several branches and leased lines. He connected these by constructing four segments of track totaling 84 miles (135 kilometres): Swainsboro-Pendleton, Vidalia-Hazlehurst, Garent-Douglas Junction, and Nashville-Valdosta. In addition, he secured trackage rights between Augusta and Keysville over the Augusta Southern Railroad.
By 1910 a line was complete between Augusta, Georgia, and Madison, Florida. In 1911 the Georgia & Florida reached Moultrie, Georgia, by purchase and completion of a short branch and several miles of trackage rights. In 1919 the railroad purchased the Augusta Southern Railroad at foreclosure, gaining a line to Sandersville and Tennille, Georgia. In 1924 the railroad leased the Midland Railway of Georgia, which formed a branch to Statesboro (the Midland had begun life as a Savannah-Chattanooga proposal and had gone through several identities).
The Georgia & Florida Railway entered receivership in 1915. Skelton became receiver of the G&F in 1921, and it was reorganized as the Georgia & Florida Railroad (G&F) shortly after Skelton's death in 1926. The railroad began construction of an extension north to Greenwood, South Carolina, completed in 1929. The cost of construction and the effects of the Great Depression put the G&F into receivership again in 1929. In March 1954 the railroad sold the Valdosta-Madison line to the Valdosta Southern Railroad — a new company, not the one acquired by Skelton.
In February 1962 the Southern Railway formed the Georgia & Florida Railway to acquire the railroad and then sell it to three other railroads controlled by the Southern:
- Live Oak, Perry & Gulf;
- Carolina & North Western; and
- South Georgia.
Transfer of the G&F to the three railroads occurred July 1, 1963. On July 1, 1971, the G&F was merged into the Central of Georgia Railroad, another subsidiary of the Southern. The South Carolina portion was abandoned in the early 1970s; most of the main line remains in service.