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Exploring the gin and the depot

POSTED: July 3, 2014 2:21 p.m.
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Above is a look at the Springfield Rail Depot, which since has been torn down.

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Just north of the Calhoun Tractor Company on the west side of Laurel Street in Springfield, a set of gas tanks was located beside the railroad. Coastal Gas, owned by Howard Haupt Sr., used these tanks for storage for butane and propane gas for their business.
Moving north, still on the west side of Laurel, the old cotton gin served cotton farmers in Effingham County. When George Brinson came to Springfield, building Brinson Railroad, he purchased equipment from the Continental Gin Company and opened the Springfield Ginning and Milling Company. Remnants of the gin are still standing north of the current car wash. The Ramsey family came to own and operate the gin after George Brinson left the area and sold out his railroad.
By 1915 most of the Brinson shops had left Springfield, following his offices relocating to Savannah in 1913.
Lawson Dickey, with a group of male laborers, operated the gin for the Ramsey family. Local farmers hand-picked cotton and loaded it into wagons or trucks with high sides, packing it down with their hands and feet. Upon arrival at the gin, a huge vacuum hose hanging over the unloading area sucked the cotton from the vehicle, unloading it quickly. Cotton was baled there and shipped by truck and train, after it was ginned. Ginning separated cotton from its seeds. Cotton seeds also were shipped out. It was an ingredient in cattle food and other products.
A potato shed operated along the railroad near the depot. This was mentioned in the article a few weeks ago about Springfield Farm Supply. Potatoes were graded, sized and packaged for shipping. My grandfather Bruce Hinely worked there some in potato season.
The Springfield Depot faced Railroad Avenue on the south corner of Second Street, one block off Laurel Street. Telephone lines were completed to the Springfield Depot in 1909 but the only telephone in Springfield for a time was at the depot. They used a telegraph system, using Morse code, to communicate with the trains up and down the rails. Mr. Denton Hinely was depot agent for decades.
Freight trains made up most of the rail business. A few passenger trains came through Springfield. The Nancy Hanks was a Savannah-to-Atlanta daily passenger train that stopped in Springfield, returning each evening. Many elementary school classes made the day trip to Atlanta via the Nancy Hanks. I made this trip to see the Atlanta Zoo and Cyclorama in seventh grade while at Springfield Elementary School. The train featured a domed car for viewing the scenery during travel and a dining car.
The depot became obsolete and was torn down in the late 1970s or early 1980s.
This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact her at 754-6681 or hesheraldexley@aol.com.

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