Heart of Georgia Railroad

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Heart of Georgia Railroad
Reporting mark HOG
Locale East Central Alabama, Southwest Georgia
Dates of operation 1999–
Predecessor Georgia Southwestern
Track gauge 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)
Length 219 miles (352 km)
Headquarters Americus, Georgia

The Heart of Georgia Railroad (reporting mark HOG) is a shortline railroad created in 1999 to lease and operate 177 miles (285 km) of track owned by the Georgia Department of Transportation between Mahrt, Alabama and Vidalia, Georgia. The railroad has since expanded to include more than 219 miles (352 km) of track, reaching as far as Midville, Georgia. Initially only the portion from Rochelle to Preston, Georgia was utilized, with the Preston-Mahrt and Rochelle-Vidalia lines out of service. The Heart of Georgia also hosts the SAM passenger excursion train and is owned by parent company Atlantic Western Transportation Company.[1]

Primary commodities include feed products, chemicals, plastic pellets, aggregates, lumber, grain, pulpwood, scrap metal, and fertilizer, amounting to around 7,500 annual carloads.[2]


An east-west route from Vidalia to Mahrt forms the core of the Heart of Georgia railroad and was built in segments over a period of several years. The Americus, Preston & Lumpkin was started in 1884 and connected its namesake cities by 1887. Also in 1887 further extension brought the terminus of the railroad further east to Abbeville. In 1888 the railroad became the Savannah, Americus & Montgomery.[3] The railroad continued to grow in 1890, reaching Lyons in the east, as well as the Chattahoochee River, and eventually Montgomery to the west. At Lyons, the SA&M met the newly constructed Savannah & Western. In 1895, the SA&M was reorganized under the Georgia & Alabama and in 1900 the railroad once again changed hands into the Seaboard Air Line.[4]

Through a number of mergers the line eventually came under the ownership of the Seaboard System in 1983, which abandoned the line between Montgomery and Mahrt on April 20, 1986.[5] The remaining line from Mahrt to Rhine, Georgia was sold to the Georgia Southwestern by CSX Transportation on June 5, 1989.[6] Georgia Southwestern ended operations on the line from Preston to Mahrt in 1999, and the state of Georgia sought a new operator for the entire route from Vidalia to Mahrt, part of which was still retained by the Georgia Southwestern. The Heart of Georgia railroad was created in 1999 for the purpose of operating the line on behalf of the state.[7] On May 22, 2000 the state purchased the remaining portion of the line not already under their ownership between Omaha, Georgia and the end of the line across the river in Mahrt as well as an additional 71.13 miles (114.47 km) between Rochelle and Preston retained by the Georgia Southwestern.[8]

On February 19, 2004 the Heart of Georgia expanded its line with the annexation of the Ogeechee Railway between Vidalia and Midville, a distance of 42.4 miles (68.2 km).[9] In 2010 ground was broken on an inland port on the Heart of Georgia in Cordele, Georgia. The port is expected to generate significant traffic for the HOG and provide traffic for the restored Rhine-Vidalia route.[10]

SAM Shortline Railway[edit]

In addition to freight services provided by the Heart of Georgia, the railroad also hosts the SAM shortline excursion train. The train is managed by the Southwest Georgia Railroad Excursion Authority with the HOG providing the locomotives and operating crews.[11]

Cordele Intermodal Services[edit]

In December, 2010 The Heart of Georgia began hosting intermodal transport for Cordele Intermodal Services out of the Cordele Inland Port. Cordele Intermodal Services facilitates container transport between the Georgia Ports Authority in Savannah and the Cordele Rail Ramp. Heart of Georgia Railroad operates the line between Cordele, GA and Vidalia, GA. Georgia Central Railroad operates the rail line between Vidalia and Savannah. Heart of Georgia Railroad has seen significant traffic increases in traffic since Cordele Intermodal Services' inception.


  1. ^ "Heart of Georgia Railroad". 8 May 2008. Retrieved 11 September 2010. 
  2. ^ "Georgia Railroad Association: Heart of Georgia Railroad". 8 June 2010. Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  3. ^ "Americus, Preston & Lumpkin Railroad". 14 January 2005. Retrieved 11 September 2010. 
  4. ^ "Savannah, Americus & Montgomery Railroad". 14 January 2005. Retrieved 11 September 2010. 
  5. ^ "Alabama Rail Plan 2008". December 2008. pp. Table 4–1. Retrieved 11 September 2010. 
  6. ^ Lewis, Edward A. (1996). American Shortline Railway Guide (5 ed.). Kalmbach Publishing Company. p. 133. ISBN 0-89024-290-9. 
  7. ^ "STB Finance Docket No. 33867". 4 May 2000. Retrieved 11 September 2010. 
  8. ^ "STB Finance Docket No. 33876". 25 May 2000. Retrieved 11 September 2010. 
  9. ^ "STB Finance Docket No. 34467". 12 March 2004. Retrieved 11 September 2010. 
  10. ^ "Heart of Georgia to Serve New Inland Port". 28 June 2010. Retrieved 11 September 2010. 
  11. ^ "A Brief History of the SAM Shortline". Retrieved 11 September 2010.