Waycross & Southern Railroad

In 1910, the Hebard Cypress Company opened a 10-mile logging line from its new lumber mill at Hebardville, two miles northwest of Waycross, to Fredel, a point in the woods near Black River. Within two or three years the line had been extended another 10 miles to Hopkins, on the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp, and had become a 20-mile common carrier line officially named the Waycross and Southern Railroad, with the nickname “The Okefinokee Route.”

From Hopkins, the rails continued into the swamp as a tramroad running to (in order) Cravens Hammock, Mixons Hammock, The Pocket (now Stephen Foster State Park), Billys Island (at the height of the logging operations in the swamp some 600 people lived on Billys Island), and Floyds Island. Additional tram lines branched off this central spine.

The owners of the W&S had ambitious plans for their railroad, intending to build not only a branch to Fargo, but also to go on to Jacksonville, Florida, some 75 miles south. But the Waycross and Southern never progressed beyond the swamp. With the end of logging in 1927 the railroad lost its reason for being and was soon abandoned.

Maps and Timetables:

1913 map (190K)

1918 timetable (87K)

1920 map (46K)

1929 timetable (216K)

1931 map (65K)

 

From: The Lumber World, November 1, 1908.

Suggested Reading:

C. T. Trowell. The Suwanee Canal Company in the Okefenokee Swamp. Occasional Paper from South Georgia No.5. Douglas, GA: South Georgia College, 1984.

C. T. Trowell and Lorraine Fussell. Exploring the Okefenokee; Railroads of the Okefenokee Realm. Douglas, GA: South Georgia College, 1998.

Megan Kate Nelson. Trembling Earth: A Cultural History of the Okefenokee Swamp. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2009.

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Cypress forest in Okefenokee Swamp

Lidgerwood log skidder

The Hebard company used Lidgerwood skidders such as this one to haul logs from the forests to the tracks.

 

 


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