By March 1892, the Richmond & Danville Railroad had purchased the Hamilton & Co. warehouse at the lower end of Broad Street in downtown Rome, a structure the railroad hoped to turn into a passenger terminal.
So, in the early morning hours a Richmond & Danville crew arrived in Rome by train, but to keep their arrival a secret, the engineer did not sound the locomotive’s whistle. The team, under the supervision of H.R. Dill, went to work, and by morning, the team completed the task.
The problem was Rome Railroad officials didn’t give permission allowing the Richmond & Danville to cross its tracks.
Before too long, Rome Railroad President W.W. Brookes caught wind of what happened, and he was furious. He immediately went to the scene to confront Dill.
“I will have you put in the penitentiary, sir,” Brookes allegedly told Dill, according to a report in The Atlanta Constitution, who laughed off the threat.
Work continued, and Brookes headed off to consult law books. By this time, a crowd gathered to watch the hullabaloo.
“Intense excitement has prevailed over the matter all day and Romans, eager to watch the scenes, have assembled in hundreds about the place of work,” the Athens Banner reported.
A short time later, Brookes made good on his promise and swore out a warrant from Justice of the Peace Walter Harris. Floyd County Sheriff Jake C. Moore arrested Dill, but he quickly bonded out of jail.
Concurrently, Superior Court Judge John W. Maddox signed an injunction prohibiting the Richmond & Danville from additional work. The action also required the Richmond & Danville to tear up a portion of the track it laid and replace a Rome Railroad siding workers removed.
“Yes, we have stopped them,” Brookes said. “This company is enjoined from working and also they must replace our track.”