Sunday, September 27, 2015

Douglasville - Bitterly Opposed to the Railroad

I recently ran across an article in "The Southern World, dated October 1, 1883 and titled "The Georgia Pacific Railway".

The sub-headings said, "Facts about the great highway - Atlanta looking for a boom that it would bring."

The article confirms many things I've written before regarding the railroad including how work was actually begun before the Civil War, but the war put the project on hold.

The article provides the year 1854 as the year the Georgia legislature chartered the Georgia Western Railroad Company, and mentions work was done including some grading in Fulton and Cobb Counties, but it was abandoned where it remained at a stand still until 1872-1873.

"Work resumed to meet the fate that compelled so many other enterprises to succumb in that period of panic and business prostration..."

Yes, war has a habit of doing that.

In June, 1881, the Richmond and Danville Extension Company organized in order to complete the rail "highway" construction.  General T.M. Logan was president, Major John W. Johnston was VP/General Manager, Major R.H. Temple as Chief Engineer, G.W. Perkins as Treasurer, and Thomas Seddon as Secretary.

One of the great things this article provides is a description of the land west of Atlanta including the land around early Douglasville before and after the railroad. 

The reporter states, "I shall never forget a trip I made across the country on the line of this road. The country was truly a howling wilderness. Without any means of communication with the outside world except the "pony post". The people seemed to belong to another generation; the few little towns along the line appeared to be falling to decay and a lethargy and indolence to have taken possession of everything and everybody."

But after the railroad?

"Towns have sprung up - little places wakened to new life."

The reporter states he can scarcely realize the places along the "road" are the same as two years before.

Heading out of Atlanta one can see the Chattahoochee Brick Yards eight miles of Atlanta making 100,000 bricks a day.

At Austell, the junction of the ET, Virginia & Georgia and the Georgia was entirely built within the last eighteen with several stores and is rapidly building up.

At Salt Springs - today's Lithia Springs - just a mere twenty-one miles from Atlanta, the depot was established there on June 14, 1883. The reporter states the little town "now has three stores, a printing press, and a population of about 100. The buildings are neat and the citizens are enterprising to push it ahead."

The information regarding Douglasville is most interesting.

"Douglasville - twenty-seven miles from Atlanta, the county seat of Douglas County, and when the "road" reached this town the population was barely 400."

"Many of the people were bitterly opposed to the road, as they feared on account of quick transportation the business of the adjoining country would seek another outlet. Since the advent of the road the population has doubled, the business has increased in proportion and the old fogy notions are fast dying out."

It's interesting to note the folks in town not only opposed the railroad.....they bitterly opposed it, and some folks here were accused of being old fogies.....In 1883!

"The place now boasts 22 stores, 3 hotels, Baptist, Lutheran, and Methodist Churches, 2 academies, and is indeed a prosperous and thriving place."

"Much of the success of this and other places along the line of the road is due to J.S. James who so ably represents this county in our legislature."

Rest assured, J.S. James was one politician who totally looked out for himself even though he was the linchpin to the city and county's early success.

And don't forget Villa Rica......

The depot there was established and lots sold on August 14, 1882. The depot was built within  a half mile of the old town and the place as grown if by magic. There is a "population of 400, 21 stores, livery stable, 2 hotels, a good school, and a great many buildings in the process of erection."


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