View Full Version : Great Walton RR Covington branch ceases operation

10-02-2009, 05:49 PM
As of 9/30/09, the Great Walton RR in central Georgia has ended operations on its Covington branch. This line had languished in recent years, taking a big hit with the loss of woodchip traffic out of Shady Dale in the early 2000s. The line was down to a single small shipper in Newborn for the last few years.

Nikos Kavoori and David Stewart have photos on the photo page here at Railpictures.net. Nikos is a member on the forum, so hopefully he can add a bit more info than I have provided here.

This is one of the lines I really should have spent more time on while I lived in Atlanta. I do have photos of them working in Covington, but that's it. The line typically worked 1-2 times a week on no set schedule.

10-05-2009, 09:20 PM
Sorry i missed this till now, ill fill in what i can.
The Great Walton had been leasing the line on a month to month basis for 20 years, and NS decided to terminate the lease at the end of September. There are several reason for this, number one i would probably say would be that NS was making little money off the line under the Great Walton lease. The west end of the line has been dormant for years and only been used for storage cars, and as a result blocking off the NS interchange with the GWRR interchanging exclusively with CSX (shippers on the line preferred to ship by CSX as they apparently have substantially lower rates) Second is that the city of Covington wants the line for a Rails to Trails project, and NS figured the ROW is worth more in property value than anything else. The last customer, a feed mill in Newborn still will be served by the Squaw Creek Southern railroad from the Machen end of the line. The Covington to Newborn segment however has likely seen its last train. The traffic on the line has been very light in recent years, with no more than about three or four trains a month, i had always wanted to chase them but could never get a good heads up on when they were running. Its a scenic line and its a shame no one has gotten any other shots, or atleast no one has posted them.

A rundown of the last day of operations.
The crew from the Monroe - Social Circle branch drove down to Covington around 11 AM, started the engines parked at Pace St downtown, then proceeded to north a few blocks to pull the last cars out from the Porterdale spur where they had been stored. They then pulled back south past the interchange switch, then backed onto the CSX main and were hauled east to Social Circle for interchange with the Great Walton's Monroe branch.

Most of us area fans had been figuring this day was coming for a long time, but the timing was abrupt, i didnt know till the day before, but i feel fortunate i was able to witness the last run. There were only 5 railfans including David and I there to witness the last run, though when I think about it I expected me and David to be the only ones. If you want more info theres a good discussion going on on the Georgia Shortlines Yahoo group.

Heres a link to the rest of Davids shots
and to more of my pictures
And a my video of the last run

10-06-2009, 12:10 AM
What a sad day that is, By looks of it, a small nice tourist line could've operated over it, but NS are right in thinking of selling the land for ROW value instead of track value.

I hope the GWRR succeed in operating their other branch.