WINDER, Ga. — In 1883, the Gainesville, Jefferson and Southern, later the Gainesville Midland Railroad, built tracks between Gainesville and Social Circle that passed through Winder, then known as Jug Tavern.
Four years later, the Georgia, Carolina and Northern Railroad started building a line between Baltimore and Atlanta, with the route passing through town. The line reached the Atlanta Area in 1892, though before the railroad’s completion, it was leased to a company operating as Seaboard Air Line.
The first train reached town on April 24, 1892, and had 150 people on board. The train had two passenger coaches and a baggage car.
Originally, the railroad intended to build the tracks about four miles south of town. However, residents — including Dr. Wiley H. Bush — gave the railroad right-of-way at a discounted price to lure the company into building the tracks through Jug Tavern.
To show their appreciation to the railroad, the town changed its name to honor John H. Winder, a general manager with Seaboard Air Line. The General Assembly made the name change official 1893.
Winder was born in 1861 in Raleigh, N.C., to John and Octavia Winder. He started with the Seaboard Air Line as a clerk and rose to the position on general manager and died in Baltimore in 1952.
In 1910 or 1912, depending on the source, Seaboard Air Line built a depot on Porter Street in downtown Winder. On Dec. 9, 1975, the railroad gave the depot to the city of Winder, and Seaboard Air Line’s predecessor, CSX, still operates about 30 trains through town.
In the late 1940s, the Gainesville Midland Railroad — known as the Jug Tavern Route — abandoned its tracks.
In 1959, Seaboard Air Line donated a steam engine to the city of Winder. The 2-10-0 locomotive — known as a decapod — is on display in downtown Winder, near the Barrow County, Ga., courthouse.
Winder at one time was home to a Thrall Car Manufacturing Co. plant. Around the turn of the century, the plant that made autorack cars closed.
Originally published in the June 2005 edition of The Cross-Tie.