Georgia, Florida & Alabama Railway

Sumatra Leaf Route

The GF&A ran from Richland, GA to Carrabelle, FL, some 180 miles. Chartered in 1895 as the Georgia Pine Railway, it was renamed the Georgia, Florida & Alabama Railway in 1901.

The first section of tracks opened between Bainbridge and Damascus in 1898, and most of the line between Cuthbert and Tallahassee was put into service in 1901 and 1902. The acquisition of the Carrabelle, Tallahassee & Georgia Railroad in 1906 extended the rails from Florida's capital to the Gulf coast at Carrabelle. A northern extension to Richland in 1910 was part of a plan to build to Columbus, but the latter city was never reached and Richland remained the end of the line.

About 25 miles west of the GF&A, the Chattahoochee River ran parallel to the railroad along its entire Georgia route. Navigable up to Columbus, it had long served as a major transportation route in the area, but competition from the rails, along with improved roads, made steamboat travel increasingly unprofitable. In her book Flowing Through Time; A History of the Lower Chattahoochee River, Lynn Willoughby noted that between 1901 and 1914 commerce on the river declined by over 25 percent. The paddle-wheelers were gone by the early 1920s.

Like many railroads the GF&A had a nickname, the Sumatra Leaf Route, for a variety of tobacco grown in the area.

In June 1927, Seaboard Air Line Railway announced a lease of the GF&A. This secured for the Seaboard a second north-south connection between two of its east-west lines, one extending from Savannah and the other from Jacksonville. (The older north-south link was along the Georgia coast.)

More information on the GF&A, along with photographs of some of its locomotives, is online at Taplines.net.

GF&A 2-10-0 no. 402 in 1927.
(Harold K. Vollrath photo. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory)

Maps, Timetables, and Other Information:

1904 map (172K)

1904 map and timetable (532K)

1908 map (101K)

1910 map (144K)

1911 map (284K)

1913 map, Richland area (101K)

1916 map (282K)

1917 equipment list (430K)

1918 map (582K)

1918 timetable (330K)

GF&A engine 15 at Carrabelle, ca. 1906. (State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory)

Workers on the Georgia, Florida & Alabama Railway

GF&A employees standing next to a railway cart near Sopchoppy, Florida. (From: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory).

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Sumatra tobacco beds, Amsterdam, Georgia

Sumatra tobacco beds were screened to provide a bit of shade. These beds were in Amsterdam, Georgia, at the end of an Atlantic Coast Line branch leading from Otisca, south of Climax. The community was a few miles east of the GF&A. (From: Louis N. Geldert, Facts About Georgia; A State Rich in Resources and Opulent in Opportunities. Atlanta: Foote & Davies, 1916.)

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