The 50-mile Muscogee Railroad, chartered in 1845, ran east from Columbus to Butler. Construction began in 1847 with the goal of connecting Columbus with the Central of Georgia at Macon. When the Muscogee failed to complete the line, however, the Southwestern Railroad stepped in and built a branch from Fort Valley to the Muscogee’s eastern end. By June 1853, the connection was complete and Columbus had its railroad to Macon.
The Muscogee was consolidated into the Southwestern Railroad in 1856, but continued using its own name for a time.
An 1861 annual report issued by the company provides a look at the railroad's financial situation early in the first year of the Civil War. It is perhaps summed up by this statement from the company's president:
|There can be but little hopes of your Road paying a Dividend, so long as the Southern ports continue in a state of blackade: planters will not send their cotton to the Atlantic coast, where there will be no chance to realize on it, and there can be no goods transported over your Road until they can be imported into the Confederate States. The Board therefore trusts that the Stockholders will bear patiently until peace is declared and trade revived.