The Heart of Georgia Railroad was incorporated in December 1999 for the purpose of operating the old Seaboard Air Line Railroad route between Vidalia and the Chattahoochee River. Previously it was operated by Georgia Southwestern Railroad.
In April of 2000, the company began operations on the 68-mile section between Rochelle and Preston and not long afterwards was operating between Rochelle and Vidalia. The entire line, from Vidalia to the Chattahoochee River, was acquired by Georgia DOT and leased to HOG.
In 2004, Heart of Georgia Railroad subleased the 42-mile rail line between Vidalia and Midville previously operated by Ogeechee Railway. The line was for many years part of the Georgia & Florida Railway main line. Currently the southern section of the route, from Vidalia to Kirby, near Swainsboro, is inactive, while the northern section is now operated by Georgia Southern Railway.
Also inactive is the segment between Preston and the Chattahoochee River, near Omaha, GA, and Mahrt, AL. This section includes the vertical lift bridge over the river west of Omaha.
Since 2002, a passenger excursion line, the SAM Shortline, has operated on HOG rails between Cordele, Americus, Plains, and President Jimmy Carter's boyhood home in Archery.
Until 2017 when it was sold to Genesee & Wyoming, the Heart of Georgia was owned by Americus-based Atlantic Western Transportation. Americus was also home to HOG predecessors Americus, Preston & Lumpkin and Savannah, Americus & Montgomery.
Heart of Georgia Railroad website.