Estelle Mines Railroad

Estelle Mining Camp

Railroad tracks at an Estelle mining camp. From: S. W. McCallie, Report of the Fossil Iron Ores of Georgia, Geological Survey of Georgia, 1908.

On the west side of Pigeon Mountain in Walker County, a six-mile narrow-gauge railroad once ran along the mountain's base, passing through seven tunnels along the way. It carried iron ore to Estelle, a mining town on the standard-gauge Chattanooga Southern Railway, where it was transferred for shipment to area iron furnaces.

Locally called "the dinky" (small steam locomotives were often called dinkies, and the name was apparently attached to the railroad itself), the narrow-gauge line connected several mines, both strip mines and underground shafts, that were strung out along the various iron ore outcrops. Mining operations began around 1897 with the establishment of the Estelle Mining Company and continued with the involvement of other firms such as the Kensington Iron & Coal Company, the Chattanooga Iron & Coal Company, and others.

The mining operations ended in 1924. Much of the land is now part of the Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

Estelle mines, Georgia

From: S. W. McCallie, Report of the Fossil Iron Ores of Georgia, Geological Survey of Georgia, 1908.

Estelle mines in Georgia

From: S. W. McCallie, Report of the Fossil Iron Ores of Georgia, Geological Survey of Georgia, 1908.

iron ore tipple at Estelle mines

From: S. W. McCallie, Report of the Fossil Iron Ores of Georgia, Geological Survey of Georgia, 1908.

The Dinky locomotive on the Estelle line. ( From: Tom Fearrington, Iron Ore Mining in Northwest Georgia. Armuchee Ranger District, Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests, USDA Forest Service, June 1985.)

Porter saddle tank locomotive

A Porter locomotive similar to the Estelle dinky. (From: Light Locomotives, Pittsburgh, Pa. : H.K. Porter Co., 1908, p. 66. Online at HathiTrust Digital Library here.)

1908 map (208K)


RailGa.com. Georgia's Railroad History & Heritage. © Steve Storey

Railroad History | The Depot List | Locomotives On Display | Odds & Ends | Sources & References | Home