The Hartwell Railroad (reporting mark HRT) dates to 1878 when the company was chartered to build a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge rail line between Hartwell and Bowersville in Hart County, Georgia. The 10-mile railroad was completed the following year. In 1898, it was reorganized as the Hartwell Railway. Southern Railway gained control of the line in 1902, had it converted to 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge, and sold the line in 1924.
The Hartwell Railway's line today is operated by the Great Walton Railroad, based in Social Circle, Georgia, which also operates Athens Line, LLC. In the Jackson County, Georgia community of Center, the Hartwell Railway connects with Norfolk Southern Railway.