Thomas Babington McCauley, Locomotive Engineer on the G&F

Thomas Babington McCauley, Locomotive Engineer on the Georgia and Florida Railroad.

The Georgia & Florida Railroad was Ray City, Georgia’s connection to the world.  In the 1920s, G&F trains stopped at Ray City several times a day, with freight and passenger service.  Ray City had its own train depot, and section houses for railroad employees and their families.   A big wooden water tower stood just south of Main Street on the east side of the tracks to provide water for the trains.

The G&F railroad chose Douglas, GA,  about 60 miles northward up the track from Ray City, as the location for its offices and railroad shops. The railroad employed many workers at Douglas, including the porters, conductors, brakemen, firemen, and engineers that ran the trains. Thomas Babington McCauley was one of those locomotive engineers.

Thomas Babington McCauley, Engineer on the Georgia & Florida Railroad

Thomas Babington McCauley (1878-1948), Engineer on the Georgia & Florida Railroad.

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Thomas Babington McCauley, Sr., engineer for the Georgia & Florida Railroad

Thomas Babington McCauley, Sr., engineer for the Georgia & Florida Railroad

Thomas Babington McCauley was born on the 4th of July, 1878 in Wilkes County, GA and raised on his father’s farms in Wilkes and Taliferro counties. He was a son of Elijah H. McCauley and Elizabeth S. Beck. His father was a farmer and served as U.S. Postmaster at Robinson, GA.

Thomas B. McCauley’s father died in 1906.  In 1907 he married Carrie Mae Fouts.  McCauley and his brother-in-law, Furman Fouts, went to work as railroad engineers on the newly opened Georgia & Florida Railroad.  By 1910, they both moved to Douglas, GA where the G&F rail yard was located. Both the McCauleys and the Fouts rented houses  on Madison Avenue in Douglas, in a neighborhood full of railroad workers.

Georgia & Florida Engine No. 208 at Douglas. GA in 1948

Georgia & Florida Engine No. 208 photographed at Douglas, GA in 1948

Other locomotive engineers in Douglas, GA in 1910 were John Stewart, Pat Sellers, William C. McKinley, Hiram Handcock, Henry Handcock, John M. Chatman, Theodore Steinecke, John Rolison, Mitchell Drew, James P. Meade, Arthur Sikes, Thomas R. Sykes, Spencer H. Strickland Remer Brown, John C. Tucker, —- Fullerton, Riley B. Sweat, Thomas B. Folsom, William H. Edenfeld, Albert W. Johnson, Calvin Yawn, John E. Yawn.

Working at locomotive fireman were  Thomas Ford, Julius Burton, Ben Jackson, Will Mahorn, Jim Reeves, John Wesley, Thomas McLeod, William H. Dies, Dave Wilcox, Augustus Allen, Joe Button, Milton Thorn, Alvin Lee, Henry Jones and George Kings.

Watt Dishman, John English, George Williams, Jeff Caloway, Tom Thomas, Willie Johnson and Thomas Burel worked at brakeman.

The railroad conductors were John Coleman, Sam Barber, John Rowland, Charlie H. Vaugh, and John H. Renfroe, Jesse Kennedy, Lewis Odum, Earnest E Graybill, Hardee Slaughter, John F. Touchton, Roscoe G. Lufter, Willie B. Lee, Albert M. Barrett and Floyd Mainor.

Thomas Dumes and Fred Brown were railroad porters.

By 1920, Tom McCauley had moved his family some 40 miles up the track of the G&F to Vidalia, GA where he continued as a locomotive engineer for the railroad. The McCauleys rented a house in Vidalia on Church Street about two blocks from the train station.    “Vidalia was an important railroad hub…. With the addition of the Georgia and Florida Line in 1917, the city had five railroads running through it (tracks ran in seven different directions). In 1917, direct lines were available “in busy season” to Savannah, Macon, Augusta, and Florida’s cities, with 10 to 14 passenger trains scheduled daily. In addition, some 500 cars of freight were handled each day. Railroad structures included Union Station passenger depot, two freight depots, coal chute and water tank that supplied fuel and steam power for the many locomotives and a train car service turntable.

 

Vidalia's Union Station, built in 1912-13 at the junction of the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad (right) and Seaboard Air Line Railway (left). Located at the far western edge of Railroad Avenue, facing the bisected block of Leader and Main streets, the brick passenger depot (Union Station) was a fish hook-shaped building dominated by its two-story corner tower with bellcast conical roof. It also featured a Ludowici tile roof, dormer windows, and wide overhanging eaves with brackets. The water tower, which was the tallest structure in the area for nearly forty years, stood almost directly in front of Union Station. The tank's swivelling hoses pivoted almost 360 degrees, enabling trains to be serviced from either side of the structure. East of Union Station along Railroad Avenue was the first freight depot. Image source: https://railga.com/Depots/vidalia.html

Vidalia Union Station, built in 1912-13 at the junction of the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad (right) and Seaboard Air Line Railway (left). Located at the far western edge of Railroad Avenue, facing the bisected block of Leader and Main streets, the brick passenger depot (Union Station) was a fish hook-shaped building dominated by its two-story corner tower with bellcast conical roof. It also featured a Ludowici tile roof, dormer windows, and wide overhanging eaves with brackets. The water tower, which was the tallest structure in the area for nearly forty years, stood almost directly in front of Union Station. The tank’s swivelling hoses pivoted almost 360 degrees, enabling trains to be serviced from either side of the structure. East of Union Station along Railroad Avenue was the first freight depot. Image source: https://railga.com/Depots/vidalia.html

 

Railroad Engineer Thomas Babington McCauley and children, Harvey McCauley, Jeanette McCauley, Marion McCauley, and Thomas Jr., on a Georgia & Florida Railroad locomotive, probably photographed 1919 or early  1920.

Railroad Engineer Thomas Babington McCauley and children, Harvey McCauley, Jeanette McCauley, Marion McCauley, and Thomas Jr., on a Georgia & Florida Railroad locomotive, probably photographed 1919 or early  1920.

Sadly, Harvey McCauley died shortly after the above photograph was taken.

By 1922 Tom McCauley transferred again on the Georgia & Florida route, to Augusta, GA where he would remain the rest of his life.

On the afternoon of October 28, 1922, Tom McCauley and his fireman, Augustus Harvey Green, survived the derailment of their G&F locomotive.   The Atlanta Constitution briefly noted the wreck in the Sunday edition, October 29, 1922, with some minor errors in the reporting.

Atlanta Constitution reports engineer Tom McCauley is injured in train derailment on the Georgia & Florida Railroad.

Atlanta Constitution reports engineer Tom McCauley is injured in train derailment on the Georgia & Florida Railroad.

Atlanta Constitution
October 29, 1922

Engineer Hurt As Locomotive And Car Derail

Augusta, Ga., Oct 28. – (Special.) – Engineer T. B. McCauley, of Sandersville, was seriously injured when his engine and baggage car of Georgia and Florida passenger train No. 2, bound for Augusta, derailed two miles out of Mitchel this afternoon. Both of his feet were severely mashed and he received internal injuries. He was taken to the Sandersville hospital. The negro fireman, Harvey Green, of Augusta, was internally injured.

The G&F wreck was reported in more detail in the Constitution’s follow-up story on Monday, October 30, 1922

Atlanta Constitution reports 1922 train wreck on Georgia & Florida Railroad

Atlanta Constitution reports 1922 train wreck on Georgia & Florida Railroad

Atlanta Constitution
October 29, 1922

Hurt in Wreck, Engineer Better

McCauley Loses Five Toes When Passenger Locomotive Turns Over Near Mitchell, GA.

        Sandersville, Ga., October 29.- (Special.)- Engineer Tom McCauley, of Augusta, who was injured on the Georgia & Florida near Mitchell Saturday afternoon when his engine turned over, was reported out of danger at the sanitarium here Sunday night.
        McCauley was at the throttle of passenger train No. 2 from Tennille to Keysville, running half an hour late, one-half mile north of Mitchell, while running about 20 miles an hour going around a curve on a crossing, the pony truck jumped the track on an accumulation of sand. The driving wheels followed and the locomotive turned over almost squarely across the track.
        McCauley’s right foot was crushed, making it necessary for local surgeons to amputate five toes. He was also slightly scalded but not internally injured, as first reported. No passengers were injured. The negro fireman, Harvey Green, of Tennille, on of the oldest in service of this road, received a dislocated shoulder and severe bruises.
         The engine was literally demolished, the boiler being stripped clean with exception of wheels. The baggage car was derailed but did not turn over, and the first class coach remained on the rails. Several hundred people gathered at the scene of the wreck today to see the wrecker clean up the debris.
       Trains were able to pass at noon and normal traffic restored. The Georgia and Florida secured the C. & W. C. wrecker and its crew from Augusta, rather than delay waiting on their equipment at Douglas.

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Thomas Babington McCauley and family. Tom Babington was a locomotive engineer for the Georgia & Florida Railroad. His right foot was maimed in a train derailment.

Thomas Babington McCauley and family. Tom Babington was a locomotive engineer for the Georgia & Florida Railroad. His right foot was maimed in a train derailment.

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Georgia & Florida Railroad Card belonging to wife of retired railroad engineer Thomas Babington McCauley

Georgia & Florida Railroad Card belonging to wife of retired railroad engineer Thomas Babington McCauley

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Carrie McCauley, wife of railroad engineer Tom McCauley

Carrie McCauley, wife of railroad engineer Tom McCauley

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