Iron Belt Railroad

Iron Belt Railroad route

Part of the Iron Belt rail bed, now a local road. (Photo by David Ray)

The Iron Belt, a mining railroad, ran from Rogers Station, on the north side of Cartersville, to Sugar Hill in the Pine Log Mountain area of northeastern Bartow County, a distance of 15 miles. In addition, the railroad had a 2-mile branch from White to Chumbler Hill, a mine on the western slope of Little Pine Log Mountain.

The first section of railroad was constructed in the early 1880s by contractor Daniel Callahan. It ran from Rogers Station to the Guyton brown ore mine about three miles away. A major investor in the operation was former governor Joseph E. Brown, who held extensive mining interests in north Georgia.

The railroad was extended further to the north and more mines were opened, with the final extension to Sugar Hill completed sometime around 1898 by the Iron Belt Railroad and Mining Company. The president of the company, which was incorporated in 1897, was John W. Akin of Cartersville. Akin and his partner L. S. Munford established large-scale operations at Sugar Hill, mining the ore deposits intensively for about four years.

Sometime around 1902, Joel Hurt of Atlanta acquired the property. Hurt was president of the Southern Mining Company, later renamed the Georgia Iron & Coal Company, which owned several of the area mines. Through the state's convict lease system, Hurt was also able to purchase a number of laborers who were forced to work long hours and endure difficult conditions in his mines.

In 1903, the Iron Belt notified the Railroad Commission of Georgia that it had discontinued common carrier service.

Apparently the mines and railroad were still in operation nearly two decades later, as indicated in a 1919 report on the manganese deposits of the area:

"The Georgia Iron & Coal Company, of which Joel Hurt, Atlanta, is president, owns more than 12,000 acres of land ... in Bartow County. The main office of the company is in Atlanta but the post office at the mines is White on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, about a mile north of Aubrey, the mining and operating center. The Iron Belt Railroad connects the mines with the main railroad at McCallie, a station a mile and half southwest of Aubrey. Aubrey is 8 miles by the Tennessee road north-northeast of Cartersville."

No date for the abandonment of the railroad was found.

Maps and Other Information:

1887 map (183K)

1902 map (38K)

1902 distance table (20K)

1906 map (180K)

1919 map, Big Spring Branch area (94K)

Suggested Reading:

J.P.D. Hull, Laurence La Forge, and W.R. Crane. Report on the Manganese Deposits of Georgia. Bulletin No. 35. Atlanta: Geological Survey of Georgia, 1919. Online at Google Books.

Thomas L. Kesler. Geology and Mineral Deposits of the Cartersville District, Georgia. Geological Survey Professional Paper 224. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1950. Online at Google Books. Georgia's Railroad History & Heritage. © Steve Storey

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