"Not a Prosperous Artery of Commerce": The Ocmulgee Valley Railway

Since much of our understanding of obscure short-line railways comes from Annual Reports, official documents, and other technical manuals, it is quite rare to see such a frank description of a rail line, as the condition of the Ocmulgee Valley Railway was in 1917, which ran between Lumber City, GA and Jacksonville, GA. 

Image: A steam engine similar to what would have operated on the Ocmulgee Valley Railway. It doesn't appear as though any photos exist of the operations.

The line developed from the earlier logging railroad known as the Ocmulgee River Lumber Company, and gained independence from said company some time between 1911-1915. 

Ocmulgee Valley Railway Right of Way between Lumber City and Jacksonville. The line crossed the ROW of the unrelated Horse Creek Railroad, abandoned about thirty years earlier in 1888. (FRRandP Maps, 2021)

By 1917, however, the company was essentially bankrupt, and the lumber company sued the owners of the railroad for non-payment of rolling stock and trackage rights. It was abandoned that same year.

OVRwy Timetable From: Report of the Railroad Commission of Georgia, 1916.

The description from the court case is as follows. "...The Ocmulgee Valley Railway Company has constructed a short railway, which purports to extend from Lumber City to a point in the pine woods some miles short of Jacksonville, Tel­fair County, Ga.

The Ocmulgee Valley Railroad is not a prosperous artery of com­merce. During last year it spent nothing for its upkeep, paid its of­ficers no salaries, and charged off nothing for depreciation. It remitted the duty of paying its state and county taxes to the plaintiff. For the rails it uses it has never paid a dollar. This is also true of all its rolling stock and other railway material. Depots, platforms, terminals, and other such attributes of the railway are wholly nonexistent. Its president testified that he did not believe it possible that it would ever pay its operating expenses. He did not think it could be sold.

Indeed, he doubted if it could be given away to any one under obligation to continue its operation. He was equally skeptical as to the possibility of bonding the property. The condition of the road and the roadbed is not less calamitous. Generally, its supports are rotten, and in at least one place crossing a stream or other depression, the stringers having rotted away, the passing train is upheld only by the rail."

"251 F. 161 United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia -- Ocmulgee River Lumber Co. v. Ocmulgee Valley Ry. Co., 251 F. 161, 161 (S.D. Ga. 1917)" 

At least one source has this road extending west from Jacksonville, but it appears as though that was a separate logging railroad. More information on this line and other Telfair County logging lines is available here

Thanks as always for reading!


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