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Streetcars in Fairburn

The old Campbell County Courthouse in Fairburn

“Citizens of Fairburn, nineteen miles from Atlanta, are agitating the question of having the electric railways of Atlanta extended to Fairburn,” noted the October 25, 1902 edition of Electrical World and Engineer. Residents of the south Fulton County city would, however, have to wait a few years for an improved connection to the state's capital city.

Finally, on Dec. 22, 1908, the Fairburn & Atlanta Railway & Electric Company was incorporated to make the link. Soon afterwards, the Municipal Journal and Engineer reported in its January 6, 1909 edition that “The Fairburn & Atlanta Railway Company will construct an electric railway from Fairburn through Stonewall and Red Oak to College Park: distance, 11 miles --- J.F. Golightly, of Atlanta, W.T. Roberts and J.H. Harris, Promoters."

After two more years passed with no electric railway, the February 25, 1911 issue of Electrical Review noted some real progress: “Formalities attending the beginning of the building of the electric line from Fairburn to Atlanta were held recently, and a gold spike was the first driven in the first rail of the road that will connect the two cities. W.T. Roberts is president of the new line, and Col. J.F. Golightly is secretary.”

1921 map shows location of streetcar barn in Fairburn.

The car barn was on the west side of the railroad between W. Church Street and Senoia Road. (From 1921 Sanborn map).

Roberts and his associates succeeded in building the line, opening it not long after the golden spike was driven. Using three gasoline-powered cars on standard gauge rails, it amounted to a separate interurban railway between Fairburn and College Park that connected at the latter town to an electric streetcar operation into Atlanta.

A 1914 report in the McGraw Electrical Trade Directory indicated that the Fairburn & Atlanta Railway & Electric Company operated on 10.5 miles of tracks with 3 gasoline-powered Fairbanks-Morse motor cars. Fairbanks-Morse had begun building such cars around 1908, with the first two units sold to the St. Tammany & New Orleans Railway, an interurban line in Louisiana (see New Orleans Streetcar Album by H. George Friedman, Jr.).

A change in motive power was apparently considered after a few years. The Electrical Review and Western Electrician of February 19, 1916 noted, “The Fairburn Electric Railway Company, which operates between College Park and Fairburn, will replace its present cars, which are operated with gasoline, by storage battery cars. The company will invest $50,000.”

Financial reports for 1921, however, indicated that the company still used three gasoline cars. Its gross earnings for that year were $43,380, probably not enough to pay for the conversion to battery-operated cars.

Service on the line ended in 1927. Georgia's Railroad History & Heritage. © Steve Storey

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