|Dates of operation||1895–1963|
|Successor||split between Southern Railway later Norfolk Southern and St. Louis-San Francisco Railway then Burlington Northern now BNSF|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Previous gauge||5 ft (1,524 mm),|
civil war era
and4 ft 9 in (1,448 mm)
|Length||1,944 miles (3,129 km) in 1929|
The Central of Georgia Railway (reporting mark CG) started as the Central Rail Road and Canal Company in 1833. As a way to better attract investment capital, the railroad changed its name to Central Rail Road and Banking Company of Georgia. This railroad was constructed to join the Macon and Western Railroad at Macon, Georgia, in the United States, and run to Savannah. This created a rail link from Chattanooga, on the Tennessee River, to seaports on the Atlantic Ocean. It took from 1837 to 1843 to build the railroad from Savannah to the eastern bank of the Ocmulgee River at Macon; a bridge into the city was not built until 1851.
During the Savannah Campaign of the American Civil War, conducted during November and December 1864, federal troops tore up the rails and converted them into "Sherman's neckties."
Despite the similarity between the two names, the Georgia Central Railway has no ties with the Central of Georgia Railway.
Over the years, this railroad steadily acquired other railroads by either lease or purchase:
In 1888, the Richmond Terminal Company, a Virginia holding company, gained control of the Central. The financial problems of the parent company forced the CofG into bankruptcy, and it was sold at foreclosure three years later, being reorganized as the Central of Georgia Railway on November 1, 1895.
In 1907 railroad magnate and financier E. H. Harriman gained a controlling interest in the railway, and in 1909 sold his interest to the Illinois Central Railroad, which he also controlled. In 1932, during the Great Depression, the CofG went into receivership, from which it did not emerge until 1948. In 1956, the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway ("Frisco"), seeking a route to Atlantic Ocean ports, gained control of the CofG, but the Interstate Commerce Commission declined to approve a merger of the two roads, so the Frisco sold its CofG stock to the Southern Railway in 1963.
At the end of 1956 the CofG operated 1,764 miles (2,839 km) of road and 2,646 miles (4,258 km) of track; that year it reported 3208 million net ton-miles of revenue freight and 73 million passenger-miles. Those totals do not include the 144-mile (232 km) Savannah and Atlanta, the 10-mile (16 km) L&W, the 20-mile (32 km) Wadley Southern or the 36-mile (58 km) Wrightsville and Tennille.
The CofG became a Southern Railway subsidiary on June 17, 1963. In 1971 the Southern formed the Central of Georgia Railroad to merge the Central of Georgia Railway, the Savannah and Atlanta Railway, and the Wrightsville and Tennille Railroad.
The famous passenger train the Nancy Hanks II (1947-1971) ran from Atlanta to Savannah, via Macon. It had the two added on the end to distinguish it from a short-lived train the Central sal in the 1890s. Another notable train was the Man o' War (1947-1970), a Columbus - Atlanta route, via Newnan. Both of these trains were named after prize-winning racehorses. When Amtrak took control of the Southern Railway's passenger service in 1971, The Southern decided to discontinue the "Nancy Hanks II" but continue operating the "Crescent Limited" until 1977.
Into the mid-1950s, the CofG, with the Alabama & Saint Andrews Bay Railroad, operated passenger trains headed for the Gulf Coast resort city Panama City, Florida.
Long distance inter-state trains operated on Central of Georgia tracks as part of their itineraries: City of Miami (Chicago-Miami), Southland (Chicago & Cincinnati to St. Petersburg), Flamingo (Cincinnati-Jacksonville) and Seminole (Chicago-Jacksonville).
Well into the 1960s, CofG trains remained segregated, long after most Southern railroads abolished racial bars following a desegregation order by the Interstate Commerce Commission. The CofG only operated in Georgia, and some parts of Alabama, and was thus not engaged in interstate commerce.
Today the Central of Georgia exists only as a paper railroad within the Norfolk Southern Railway group. 42 miles (68 km) of the CofG's former mainline are currently leased by the Chattooga and Chickamauga Railway from the State of Georgia.
A number of former properties of Central of Georgia are preserved as historic sites. These include the following, listed on the National Register of Historic Places:
This list includes, but is not limited to the preserved engines and rolling stock of the Central of Georgia Railway.
On April 5, 2012, Norfolk Southern unveiled NS 8101, a GE ES44AC painted in the scheme found on Central of Georgia's diesel locomotives. It was the fourth of 20 units that NS painted in the colors of their predecessors.
Source: The March To The Sea/Franklin And Nashville By Jacob D. Cox, LL. D., Late Major-General Commanding Twenty-Third Army Corps Chapter II.--The March Through Georgia.