Athens Terminal Co. Helped Bring About Freight ‘Revolution’ in Athens
By Todd DeFeo
ATHENS, Ga. – The Athens Terminal Co. was incorporated on Oct. 4, 1906, as a commercial steam railroad company jointly owned by the Gainesville Midland Railway and Seaboard Air Line.
The two-mile-long railroad was chartered to run “from Broad street in the city of Athens along Foundry street to a connection with the tracks of the Seaboard Air Line Railway,” according to a petition the Weekly Banner newspaper printed in September 1906. Spur tracks were to be constructed as well.
In January 1906, the Gainesville and Athens Construction Co. purchased three blocks of property along Foundry Street – stretching from Broad Street to Hancock Avenue, according to a July 1906 newspaper report.
“On this property it was planned to build the most convenient and up-to-date freight terminals possible,” the Weekly Banner reported. The new terminal was located at the corner of Broad Street and a new street to be constructed between “midway between Thomas and Foundry streets” – where the Athens Banner-Herald newspaper is today located.
Work on the $150,000 terminal was delayed when the Gainesville Midland and the Seaboard Air Line failed to agree on the terms of joint ownership. As part of the agreement, announced in July 1906, the Gainesville Midland entered the city by running its trains over a section of Seaboard Air Line tracks.
The first Gainesville Midland trains operated in and out of Athens in November 1906. Initially, the railroad used the Seaboard Air Line’s passenger and freight facilities.
The Athens Terminal Co.’s plan wasn’t welcomed by everyone.
By 1907, an injunction prohibited the Gainesville Midland from laying tracks along Foundry Street, which was allowed under an ordinance the city passed on Jan. 3, 1906. “It is alleged that the laying of tracks on Foundry Street … will be of special damage to the property of petitioners,” the Weekly Banner reported.
The company eventually settled the claim.
“The completion of warehouses of the Athens Terminal Co. and the erection of the new compress on the old fair grounds will bring about a revolution in the handling of freight in this city,” the Athens Daily Banner reported in 1908.
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