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Streetcars in Milledgeville

Porter engine of the type used on the Milledgeville & Asylum Dummy Railroad

A Porter engine of the type used on the Milledgeville & Asylum Dummy RR.

The Milledgeville and Asylum Dummy Line Railroad, incorporated in 1888, was a 4-mile line with two cars operating from Milledgeville to the state mental hospital. It ran down Wayne Street from the Georgia Railroad on the north side of town, continuing south through the business district, crossing over Fishing Creek, and continuing south to the hospital.

The line was initially constructed at a track gauge of 56 and a half inches. Power was provided by a "dummy" steam locomotive built by H.K. Porter & Co. that hauled two cars of 8 tons each. Porter referred to this particular locomotive model as a back-truck motor with saddle tank. The M&ADL dummy had 12-inch diameter cylinders and 40-inch driving wheels. Its saddle tank had a capacity of 750 gallons of water. The fuel was coal, of which about 800 pounds per day was used.

Given that the railroad reported running 96 to 144 miles per day, that would indicate 12 to 18 round trips each day.

Because the engines were disguised to look like the passenger cars that they pulled, they picked up the name dummy. Supposedly the design was less likely to frighten horses than would an uncloaked steam locomotive.

Whether or not it threatened the local equines, the dummy line was an initial success according to a Feb. 16, 1890 report in the Atlanta Constitution:

"Milledgeville, Ga, ... A few outside parties, who have recently tried to buy Milledgeville and Asylum railroad stock, have caused that stock to go way above par. It is now held at considerable above a hundred dollar, while some of the stockholders are not anxious to sell at even $130. The road is in admirable condition, and President Lumpkin says it will declare a dividend of not less than twenty per cent this year. The clear profits for the month of January were five per cent of the amount invested."

The main building at the State Asylum. (From: Fruits of Industry. Central Railroad of Georgia, 1895. Online at Internet Archive here.)

A 1907 U.S. Census publication listed the Milledgeville and Asylum Dummy Line Railroad among street and interurban railways that had replaced steam locomotives and dummies with electrical equipment since January 1, 1888. It did not indicate the nature of this equipment. An 1893 issue of the Street Railway Journal, however, listed the railway's two cars as motor cars.

The M&ADL entered receivership in 1891 and was sold "at public outcry" on May 30th, 1893. It was renamed the Old Capitol Railway Company by its purchasers on June 29, 1893.

A tragedy on the line occurred in late 1894, as reported in the New York Times on December 13, 1894:

Dropped from a Trestle.
MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga., Dec. 12. – As the train on the Milledgeville and Asylum Road this morning was crossing the trestle over Fishing Creek, near this city, the structure gave way, precipitating the engine and coach into the stream, forty feet below. Fireman Ragsford has died from his injuries, and engineer Dickens is not expected to live.

The Old Capitol Railway entered bankruptcy and was purchased by the Milledgeville Railway, incorporated in February 1896 by the lessees of the Georgia Railroad.

In 1902, it was listed as a standard gauge dummy line with two locomotives and two cars, operating on a main line of 3 miles with 2.85 miles of branches. Rail was 30, 54, and 56 lbs. During the calendar year 1901 it had gross earnings of $5,771, operating expenses of $5,814, and a deficit of $43.

Milledgeville Railway battery car at Georgia Railroad depot in Milledgeville, Georgia

Milledgeville Railway battery car at the city's Georgia Railroad depot. The building burned in 1995. (From: Electric Railway Journal, vol. 43, no. 24, June 13, 1914. Online at Internet Archive here.)

In 1922, the Milledgeville Railway was listed in Moody's as a standard gauge 5.48-mile road (with branches) extending from Milledgeville to Asylum, that was leased to Atlantic Coast Line and Louisville & Nashville (the lessees of the Georgia Railroad). Equipment was reported to consist of one car.

Although the line began as a street railway transporting passengers, at some point passenger service ended and the focus became hauling freight. The Georgia Railroad saw it as a link to the huge state hospital to which the railroad could profitably haul coal and freight, despite the nuisances of street running. Finally, in 1962, the City requested that the rails be removed from Wayne Street. The following year the last train rolled through the downtown streets.


1912 map (260K) Georgia's Railroad History & Heritage. © Steve Storey

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