Marietta & North Georgia Railroad

Porter locomotive of the type used on the Marietta & North Georgia Railroad

The Ellijay Railroad, incorporated in 1854, was the first attempt to build a rail line from Marietta to the north Georgia mountains. It was followed by the Marietta, Canton & Ellijay Railroad, but neither it nor the Ellijay RR managed to build any tracks. The Marietta & North Georgia Railroad had much more success in attracting investment (including state assistance through convict labor). Construction on the 3-ft gauge line started in 1874, and the line from Marietta to Canton was completed in May 1879. It was extended to Ballground in 1882, Marble Cliff in 1883, Ellijay in 1884, and Murphy, NC, in early 1887.

In 1887 the company was renamed the Marietta and North Georgia Railway.

In 1889 the M&NG reported 122 miles operated with 14 locomotives, 12 passenger cars, and 350 freight and miscellaneous cars. The line was converted to standard gauge in 1889-90 (except for the Blue Ridge-Murphy branch which was not changed over until late in 1897).

On August 9, 1890, the line became part of a through route from Marietta to Knoxville when the Knoxville Southern Railroad, an M&NG subsidiary, completed its tracks from Knoxville to Blue Ridge.

In early 1891 the railroad entered receivership, but it was not until 1896 that it was sold. The Atlanta, Knoxville & Northern Railway, chartered in June of 1896, soon took over its operation.

In the 1894 edition of The Official Railway List, the M&NG reported operating 231 miles with 17 locomotives, 12 passenger cars, and 350 freight and miscellaneous cars.

The Louisville & Nashville Railroad acquired the line in 1902. After that railroad was incorporated into CSX, some sections of the line in north Georgia were effectively abandoned while the southern end was sold to a shortline operator, the Georgia Northeastern Railroad.

Pictured above is a type of narrow-gauge locomotive used by the M&NG. According to an 1889 publication* by the H.K. Porter Company, the railroad had at least one of these Porter "medium passenger locomotives" in its early years. The company described them as follows:

These engines are designed for passenger or mixed service, for shorter runs and slower speed than (Porter's 8-wheel passenger locomotive and another 6-wheel model). They will readily pass curves of 125 feet radius, and a speed of 30 to 40 miles per hour is attainable under favorable conditions.

The very large proportion of weight on the driving wheels adapts these locomotives for steep grades, for heavy loads and for quick stopping and starting of trains.

Porter noted that on a 3-mile section of the M&NG with a grade of 105 ft. per mile, the engine would pull 6 cars, each weighing 12,000 pounds and each carrying an 18,000-pound load.

* Light Locomotives. H.K. Porter Company, Pittsburgh, PA, Sixth edition, 1889. Online at Google Books.

Maps and Timetables:

1883 map (66K)

1884 map (217K)

1885 timetable (125K)

1888 timetable (102K)

1889 map, SE Tennessee (148K)

1892 map, Murphy branch, NC (262K)

1892 map, Ducktown and Hiwassee Loop area, TN (244K)

1894 timetable (39K)

1895 map, Cherokee County, at Library of Congress


Marble bluff in Gilmer County

Marble deposits were common along the route of the M&NG. Here's an example right beside the tracks.

Marietta & North Georgia Railroad, 1893 advertisement

(From: Atlanta City Directory, 1893. Online at Internet Archive.) Georgia's Railroad History & Heritage. © Steve Storey

Railroad History | The Depot List | Locomotives On Display | Odds & Ends | Sources & References | Home