Bartow was Station No. 11 on the old Central Railroad of Georgia line between Savannah and Macon. In the mid-1800s, it was also known as Spier's Turnout, a turnout being a switch that allows trains to move off the main track to a side track or spur. The place was given its present name to honor Francis S. Bartow, a Georgian killed in the First Battle of Manassas.
On November 28-29, 1864, Sherman's troops passed through here, continuing their destruction of the railroad during the March to the Sea. This was often accomplished, according to a Massachusetts soldier, by "tipping the whole track over, passing the men down from left to right & keeping it going like a row of bricks & then piling up the ties & lifting the whole length of stringer & rail on top to burn the whole; lighting a continuous fire of pitch rails along both sides of the stringer & rail to burn & warp them."*
The present depot was built in 1869 to replace the earlier structure destroyed by Sherman's army.