Indian Springs & Flovilla Railroad

View of hotels at Indian Springs, Georgia

View of Indian Springs around 1913.


In Butts County between Atlanta and Macon is Indian Springs State Park, a state reserve established in the 1800s to protect a mineral spring long thought to have healing qualities. In its early days it was a resort of some note, with inns, picnic grounds, and various opportunities for recreation and relaxation.

Hoping to provide a rail connection between the springs and the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad, which was about three miles to the east, a group of businessmen formed the Indian Springs Railroad Company in 1881. Despite the short distance to be covered, however, the line did not open until 1890.

The following year the company changed its name to the Indian Springs & Flovilla Railroad Company. The change may have had something to do with the station on the ETV&G, which was also called Indian Springs, a circumstance that likely confused arriving visitors unaware that the springs were actually several miles from the mainline railroad. The problem was solved in the mid-1880s when the name of the station and the community around it was changed to Flovilla.

Built at the standard gauge with 30-pound rails, the railroad was three miles long. The radius of its sharpest curve was 238 feet, and the most significant grade was a 200-yard stretch that amounted to 350 feet per mile. Records show that the company's Porter tank engine maintained a usual speed of 15 mph but was capable of going over twice as fast. It pulled two cars, one weighing six tons and the other five tons. A fully loaded train weighed 28 tons. In a 12-hour day, the engine traveled 50 miles, consuming 1,200 tons of coal and three tanks of water. On occasion it ran as many as 180 miles per day. (More information here.)

The Indian Springs & Flovilla Railroad was sold under foreclosure in 1897. A new company, the Flovilla & Indian Springs Railway was organized the same year.


Timetable from Official Guide of the Railways, January 1896.

The Elder Hotel, built in 1903, was one of several lodging establishments at Indian Springs.

Listing in 1920 Hotel Red Book. Georgia's Railroad History & Heritage. © Steve Storey

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