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Streetcars in Americus

Exterior of Americus streetcar on display inside library

The Americus Street Railroad Company was incorporated December 26, 1888 by Geo. C. Schofield, J. Lipman, H. R. Johnson, H. C. Bagley and John B. Felder. It was authorized to "convey persons or property over its railroad by the use of steam, electricity or animals, or any other motive power not deemed objectionable by the Mayor and City Council...."

A list of electric railways in the June 1890 issue of Electric Power indicated that the Americus Street Railway Company had commenced operation electrically on January 2, 1890 on 5.5 miles of track using 4 motor cars built by Pullman and employing the Thomson-Houston electrical system.

In Whipple's Electric, Gas and Street Railway Financial Reference Directory of 1890, the Americus Street Railroad Company was listed as a 5.5-mile operation with four streetcars using the Thomson-Houston system. An 1893 directory indicated that the company had six cars, maintained offices at 507 Jackson Street, and was leased to C.M. Fouche.

William Bailey Williford, in his Americus Through the Years, described the streetcar route as follows: "from the car barn west of Cotton Avenue, south to Forsyth Street, east to Jackson Street, south to College Street, east to Lee Street (there was a switch track in front of the Bailey and Cobb residences), south to Leeton Park (vicinity of present Country Club), northeast and across the SAM tracks on a trestle, north to Felder Street, west to and completely around Rees Park, west on Taylor Street, north on Lee Street to the courthouse, west on Forsyth Street to Cotton Avenue, and thence back to the barn." [Note: The SAM was the Savannah, Americus & Montgomery Railway.]

Unfortunately for the street railroad, it was caught up in the economic panic of 1893 and its operations came to an end. By the summer of 1894, the rails had been taken up and the bridge over the SAM tracks disassembled.

Interior of Americus streetcar on display inside library

(Above) the interior of Car No. 2.

After the streetcar system failed, its cars were dispersed. Car No. 2 was converted to a kitchen for county prisoners and later was converted into a cottage on nearby Lake Blackshear. After learning about it, and recognizing its historical importance, Americus artist Anna Cheokas led an effort to return it to town and restore it to its original trolley appearance. It now can be seen inside Lake Blackshear Regional Library, which has a short history of the trolley at its website. Georgia's Railroad History & Heritage. © Steve Storey

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