ATHENS, Ga. — Athens’ first railroad dates to among the earliest in both the state and the nation.
On Dec. 21, 1833, the General Assembly chartered the Georgia Railroad to build a railroad between Athens and Augusta. In 1841, tracks into Athens were completed, but it wasn’t until 1847 that locomotives were employed as motive power on the railroad.
The second railroad to serve the area – the Northeast Railroad of Georgia – was chartered in 1870. On Sept. 1, 1876, the section between Athens and Lula opened.
On Aug. 23, 1872, the Gainesville, Jefferson and Southern was chartered to build a road between Gainesville and Athens.
The Macon and Northern Railroad dates to 1885, when its predecessor – the Covington and Macon Railroad – was chartered. The railroad operated a line between Macon and Athens.
In December 1886, the Georgia, Carolina and Northern Railroad was chartered to build a line from North Carolina to Atlanta. Tracks reached the Atlanta-area in 1892.
Today, CSX and the Hartwell Railroad — through its subsidiary, The Athens Line, LLC, which operates over the former Northeast Railroad of Georgia — right-of-way operate in Athens.