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Coaling Towers

Impressive reminders of the days when steam locomotives dominated the railroad landscape, coaling towers can still be found in several Georgia communities. Fortunately, many of the reinforced concrete structures were built so solidly that leaving them standing is far less costly than demolishing them. But while this has preserved the remaining towers so far, one should not assume that it will continue to be so.

Savannah & Atlanta Railway coaling tower at Sardis, GA

This tower stands near the former Savannah & Atlanta Railway depot at Sardis, about 40 miles south of Augusta.

Coaling tower at Newnan, GA

Newnan's roofless tower still has active tracks (CSX, former Atlanta & West Point) underneath. It stands behind the Coweta County Justice Center on Greenville Street. The dome of the older historic courthouse can be seen on the left side of this photo.

The coal tower at Raymond in eastern Coweta County served the Central of Georgia. From here Central lines ran to Columbus, Chattanooga, and Griffin.

Coaling tower at Camak, Georgia

The Georgia Railroad coaling tower at Camak, near Warrenton, is at the edge of a small CSX rail yard. Here the Georgia Railroad's Macon branch connected with the Atlanta-Augusta main line.

Coaling tower at Social Circle, GA

This cylindrical coaling tower, which stands near Social Circle's depot, also served the Georgia Railroad. Note its similarity to the tower in Camak.

Coaling tower at Macon, GA

Looking down on the former Central of Georgia rail yard* in Macon is the champion of Georgia coaling towers. In Beckum and Langley's Central of Georgia Railway Album (1986), the tower was described as follows, "The massive concrete coal chute, near the Macon shops, still stands in 1986. It tended the needs of steam motive power as diverse as 0-6-0T's to the mighty 'Big Apple' 4-8-4's." (Note: The structure could be threatened by a city project to eliminate "brownfield" sites.)

* The Central's Macon rail yard was bounded roughly by 5th Street, 7th Street, Bay Street, and Poplar Street.

Another Central of Georgia coaling tower stood adjacent to the railroad depot in Millen until it was demolished in the 1990s. Georgia's Virtual Vault has a 1960 photo of the structure. Another photo is at carrtracks.com.

Seaboard Air Line no. 905 at a coaling tower in Atlanta in 1939.

Close-up view of the chutes.

Suggested Reading:

Thomas W. Dixon, Jr. Steam Locomotive Coaling Stations and Diesel Locomotive Fueling Facilities. Lynchburg, VA: TLC Publishing, 2002.

Photos of coaling towers in other states:

See the Railroad Coaling Towers group at Flickr.


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

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