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Streetcars in Valdosta

An old postcard shows a Valdosta streetcar on Patterson Street.

The Valdosta Street Railway, chartered in 1898, opened in September of 1900. Initially it was about two miles long, running from downtown up Patterson Street to the former fairgrounds at Pine Park (an area bounded by N. Patterson, E. Park Avenue, Williams Street, and E. Moore Street, now part of the historic Brookwood North neighborhood). Along the way, the cars served South Georgia State Normal College (now Valdosta State University), where a 1917 waiting shelter still stands.

An old postcard shows a Valdosta streetcar on Patterson Street.

A 2012 photograph shows the streetcar's location a century later.

Above, Patterson Street then and now.

The railway's four electric motor cars operated on standard gauge track with 60-pound rails. Westinghouse generators and motors, Bates engines, and Laclede cars were used. The company's officers were T.G. Cranford, President; William S. West, Vice President & Treasurer; L.W. Shaw, Secretary & Superintendent; E.L. Moore, General Manager; and B.W. Bently, Electrician.

In August of 1902, the company's charter was amended to allow the line to be extended to the new Strickland Cotton Mill at Remerton. The extension, built by way of Alden Avenue, created a five-mile system.

Like many such companies, the Valdosta Street Railway encouraged ridership by establishing public parks away from the city but still on the line. These picnic and amusement grounds were quite popular places, especially during the summer. Special "summer cars" that were open on the sides to catch available breezes were used to make the trip. Valdosta's two examples were Pine Park and Cranford Park.

As it turned out, the extension from Pine Park to Remerton proved to be unprofitable. Service on the line ended on August 31, 1915. The charter amendment of 1902, which had authorized the extension, was surrendered in 1917.

In 1918, a new line was constructed along East Hill Street and Forest Street to the new fairgrounds at Gordon Street and Forest.

After the deaths of William S. West in 1914 and Eugene E. West in 1919, both of whom were former presidents and owners of the railway company, their estates sold the company to C.M. Killian of Valdosta. At the time the system had "about five miles of track, wire, and poles, together with about ten cars." Killian made repairs to the equipment and managed to improve its earnings before selling it to D.A. Finley of the Finley Machine Company in 1920.

During the next few years, several ideas were entertained to help the system stay in business. One was a possible connection to the nearby Milltown Air-Line Railway which ran from Naylor to Milltown (Lakeland). Another, offered in 1922, was a weekly pass school ticket good for any number of rides for 50 cents.

The end was soon to happen, though; the last streetcar ran in 1924.

Streetcar waiting shelter at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, GA

On North Patterson Street, just south of Valdosta State University's West Hall, stands a small stucco waiting shelter with benches and a tile roof. Built around 1917, it is all that remains of the city's street railway.

1922 map showing location of the streetcar waiting shelter at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, GA

The waiting shelter is shown in the lower right corner of this 1922 Sanborn map. Both the shelter and West Hall continue to stand on the campus of Valdosta State University.

This early concept drawing of the college shows a trolley on N. Patterson Street. (Cropped image. Complete version is online at Internet Archive here.

West Hall.

More Information:

The Lowndes County Historical Society has an illustrated article on Valdosta's streetcars.

A photo of a Valdosta streetcar is at Georgia's Railroad History & Heritage. © Steve Storey

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