According to the 1958 50th anniversary issue of the Springfield Herald, it was unclear about how the town of Egypt was named.
Two stories surround this mystery. One is that when the Central of Georgia was naming its railroad stations along the road, circa 1835, the men who were assigning names for stations got off and remarked, “This place is as dark as Egypt,” so it was decided to name the station Egypt.
The other story is that the name came from the biblical quotation, “Behold I have heard that there is corn in Egypt…” Gen. 42:2.
The railroad was completed in 1843 from Savannah to Macon. According to Pamela Raymond, author of the booklet, “Celebrating 100 years of History of Elam Egypt Baptist Church and the Egypt Community,” “In 1870, Confederate General Lafayette McLaws from Augusta, a graduate of West Point, purchased 1,572 acres of land in Effingham County in January... According to his daughter Virginia, the land was named because of the fine corn raised there.” He never got a clear title for his land and failed at farming and by 1875 had moved his family to Savannah.
The railroad changed the community in that produce could be shipped for sale and merchandise could be easily procured. Social activities were just a train ride away where prior to this local events were the only way to pass the time.
The town of Egypt grew because of the sawmill business. E.E. Foy, who owned the Foy Lumber Company, came to Egypt about 1899 from Rocky Ford and set up his manufacturing company. It was a huge saw mill and planing mill bringing with it a good number (about 30 families) of residents to run the mill.
The mill had the capacity to cut 60,000 board feet of lumber per day. They began to build a railroad from Egypt toward Sylvania. The railroad in time was incorporated into the Savannah Valley Railroad and part of it later contributed to building the Brinson Railroad (later the S&A).
Georgia recovered faster than some areas after the Civil War because of “green gold” in the forests. Logging trams allowed for rapid growth in the lumber industry. According to the 1958 special edition of the Herald, “Mr. Foy purchased most of the land in and around Egypt for prices ranging from 50 cents to $1.00 and cut timber and shipped it far and wide.” These trams were light temporary railroads that allowed loggers to obtain lumber in virgin tracts of timber.
Sherwood Railroad traveled westward from Egypt across the Ogeechee River to a point about 4 miles east of Statesboro. The purpose of the tram was to transport trees to the mill in Egypt. Railroad spikes and other memorabilia can still be found along the long abandoned railroad beds.
One of the Foy trams crossed my family’s property near my house around what is now Boaen Road. This is about 4 miles north of Springfield off the Springfield Egypt Road. The tram crossed the present Highway 21 near my brother David’s home in order for the Foy Mill to cut timber on the Pace tract. Foy would buy a tract, cut the timber and then sell the land.
E.E. Foy built a toll bridge across the Ogeechee River opposite Egypt in 1878. Charlie Wolfe operated the bridge, and it proved a convenience for the people. Destroyed by high water in 1881, the bridge was not rebuilt. In 1882, E.E. Foy was elected to the House of Representatives from Effingham.
The influx of people brought a need for a school and a grand two story building was built housing the Masonic Fraternity, Egypt Lodge Number 440 F.and A.M. As the town grew, two stores and a boarding house were built.
In the late 1900s the operations of the E.E. Foy Manufacturing Company extended into Bulloch and Screven counties via the railroad. They operated three logging trains.
Foy died in 1907 and the saw mill was sold in 1909 to Western capitalists who named the operation East Georgia Sawmill Company. Seventeen miles of railroad in Effingham and Screven Counties were retained by the new owners.
This section of track was incorporated into the Savannah Valley Railroad and extended through Sylvania up to Millhaven. Later this formed a link to the Savannah Railroad Company.
As timber diminished, farming became the way of life in and around Egypt. Railroads were built to other sections of the county, but Egypt did not die. Electricity was in use by 1920 and telephones followed in the 1930s. Over time people moved in and out of Egypt.
James Sapp of Rincon proudly tells of his family connection to the mill. His mother Lillie Stringer (Sapp) lived in Egypt and his grandfather, Thomas Henry Stringer, worked for the mill.
Older residents died and were buried in Egypt. Stores closed, along with the post office. Elam Egypt Baptist Church stands proudly and the congregation has survived for more than100 years. A few abandoned stores and several stately old homes along with some homes of more modern construction still dot the landscape.
The old school, which was later replaced with the Egypt Pyramid School, has long since consolidated, been abandoned and was torn down. The old Rountree Store bought by the Royal family later closed and has been home to several ventures, but sits idle waiting for a new endeavor.
The few remaining residences are neat and well kept, but now the town is less than prosperous. Some of the families who still are in the county still have some connection to the original sawmill business. Although there is a lot of farming and timber now in the area, the sawmill business was the means of income for the town of Egypt when it was a thriving town.
This article was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos to share, questions or comments please call her at 6681 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org