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Streetcars in Tallapoosa

1892 map showing the steam dummy engine. The streetcar barn is seen at lower right.

In this 1892 birds-eye view of Tallapoosa, a street railroad's dummy engine and passenger car can be seen just below the no. 13 at top left. The car barn is also seen, bottom right at no. 18.


During Tallapoosa's short-lived economic boom in the late 1800s, a streetcar system was planned to link various parts of town including the Georgia Pacific Railway depot, the commercial district, an industrial district, and the fashionable Lithia Springs Hotel, a 175-room resort said to be the largest wooden building in the South. The Tallapoosa Street Railway Company, incorporated in 1891, was authorized to use "animal, steam, electric, or other power as it may see fit," and it apparently chose steam in the form of the steam "dummy," a type of small locomotive disguised to look like a streetcar, supposedly to avoid spooking horses.

Steam dummy

A steam dummy.

Electric street railways were in the early stages of development at the time, and the costs of installing the necessary infrastructure made such systems impractible for small towns. Steam-powered vehicles required less capital investment and used a proven technology.

Drawings of the Lithia Springs Hotel in Tallapoosa. The streetcar tracks can be seen in the foreground.

Above, the Lithia Springs Hotel stood atop a hill at the north edge of town.

It is not clear, however, how much of the streetcar system was built and put into operation. An 1895 Sanborn map (see below) indicates a "Tallapoosa Street Car Ho." on Atlanta Street, but no streetcar tracks are shown. A photograph said to show a Tallapoosa streetcar appears to depict a steam dummy, but closer inspection suggests that it is instead the replica of the steam train Best Friend of Charleston that Southern Railway exhibited around the South in 1928. Further research is needed.


1895 Sanborn map showing streetcar house in Tallapoosa

1895 Sanborn map.


Replica of "Best Friend of Charleston"

Tallapoosa, Georgia. Steam dummy or "Best Friend" replica?


Birds-eye view map source: Norris, George E. 1892 Tallapoosa, Ga. Haralson Co. Drawn & published by Geo. E. Norris. Burleigh, lith. co. Map. Brockton, Mass., 1892. From: Library of Congress Geography and Map Division. American Memory. LC Panoramic maps (2nd ed.), 131. Georgia's Railroad History & Heritage. © Steve Storey

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