The Central of Georgia Railroad was built through Guyton around 1835. The mayor and city of Guyton donated land with the understanding that no scheduled passenger train would pass through town without stopping. This was very progressive as the railroad movement nationwide did not begin until around 1830. The Central of Georgia was one of the first railroads in Georgia and contributed to the city’s growth.
The railroad brought social opportunity with transportation to Savannah, and many lived in Guyton and worked in Savannah utilizing the train. Guyton, or Whitesville as it was known at one time, was also a summer resort or second home for many well-to-do officials of the railroad and Savannah residents in the early 1900s.
Many of Guyton’s residents actually worked for the railroad. The depot in Guyton was quite unique with a colored exterior, cupola and red roof. This was in sharp contrast to most depots that all looked practically alike made of unfinished wood. This depot will be depicted on the 2008 Historic Effingham Society Christmas Ornament. It will go on sale in October.
Along the Central of Georgia, there was a station every 10 miles with a half station at the mid points. The line ran for about 30 miles through Effingham County. Originally the stations were numbered. Under the system Eden was no. 2, Marlow no. 2 1/2, Guyton no. 3, Tusculum no. 3 1/2, and Egypt no. 4 according to The 50th Anniversary Edition of the Springfield Herald in 1958. Later, the stations came to be known by the town names.
Around the turn of the century, the train usually ran three coaches and an engine. The early morning train leaving Egypt and picking up at Guyton and other points was known as “the Hustler.” The train returned late in the evening and was called “the Shoo-fly.”
Back in those days it was the custom to take about two hours for lunch. The train that came up to Guyton about noon and left around 2 or 3 o’clock came to be known as “the dinner train.” What we now call lunch was known as dinner in those days. The train went as far north as Egypt and turned around at a “Y.” The train spent the night at Egypt for the return to Savannah the next day. There was also a turntable in Guyton that allowed for reversal of the train.
During Guyton’s heyday there were 10 passenger trains a day on the Central of Georgia, five going each way. One train went to Atlanta and another to Augusta. By 1940, there were only three trains traveling in each direction.
Finally, this was reduced to just one train a day, “The Nancy Hanks.” Guyton lost “The Nancy” by 1967. Sometime later the tracks were taken up, and the rail line met its demise.
People still find relics around the old railroad bed, including spikes that allude to a time when Guyton was quite a destination.
This article was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos to share, questions or comments please call her at 754-6681 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org