Rays Mill Wins Route for the Georgia & Florida Railroad

In 1907 when things began to firm up for the construction of the Georgia and Florida Railway line that would connect Nashville, GA and Valdosta, GA, railroad engineer J. W. Webster  came through the area to lay out the route and to secure the right-of-way for the tracks.  Webster was assisted by Dr. W. B. Goodman, who was the husband of Texas Ray Goodman and son-in-law of Ray City founder Thomas M. Ray. (see Thomas M Ray Founded Ray’s Mill in 1863)

September 6, 1907 Engineers Secure Rights-of-Way for Georgia and Florida Railroad

The Atlanta Georgian and News, September 6, 1907 Engineers Secure Rights-of-Way for Georgia and Florida Railroad

The Atlanta Georgian and News
September 6, 1907

ENGINEERS SECURE ROAD RIGHTS-OF-WAY

Special to The Georgian.

    Valdosta, Ga., Sept. 6. – Assistant Engineer J. W. Webster, of the Georgia and Florida railroad, and Dr. W. B. Goodman, of Nashville, Ga., were in the city yesterday arranging for the right of way for the railroad into this city. They drove through the country, following the proposed line, and closed up options for a considerable portion of the right of way.  The road will likely enter the city on the eastern border, with a sharp curve to the south, where a junction will be effected with the Valdosta Southern to Madison, Fla.
    Engineer Webster states that work on the gap from this city to Nashville will begin in a short while, but owning to the fact that nearly all the railway contractors in the country have about all the work they can handle now with their present equipment, and a disposition not to invest money in increased facilities, it is impossible to state exactly when active work will begin.

The call for proposals to build the Georgia and Florida line drew the attention of some of the largest railroad contractors in the country (see previous post Whangdoodled on Panama Canal Contract, Billy Oliver put in a Bid to Construct G & F Railroad Through Ray City).  With railroad construction underway all over the country in 1907, the original bids had  come in too high for G & F’s liking.  But by late August of 1907 it was settled that Schofield & Sons, of Philadelphia would do the grading as soon as their equipment was available to do the work.

In the final consideration, there were two possible routes for the G & F line from Nashville to Valdosta, one by way of Cat Creek and the other to run past Rays Mill.

The Valdosta Times, January 29, 1908 reported that two routes were surveyed for the Georgia and Florida line from Nashville, GA to Valdosta, GA. One route would pass through Rays Mill, the other by way of Cat Creek.

The Valdosta Times
Saturday, January 25, 1908, page 10
,

Two Routes Surveyed for Road

The work of making the surveys on the road from here to Nashville will probably be completed this week, or within a very few days. Two routes have been surveyed. One of them comes in by way of Cat Creek and the other by Rays Mill. The route by Cat Creek also comes within a short distance of Mr. W.T. Staten’s place on the east, he having been assisting in securing rights of way through that section.

(missing line(s) of print)

routes will be accepted, as the costs of the road is to be considered and then some consideration will probably be taken of the concessions that are given by people along the route. It has not been announced when the work on the road will be undertaken again, but it will probably be when the present warfare on railroads and corporations generally is stopped.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker.

William Tomlinson Staten (1866-1920), who was assisting the railroad in securing rights-of-way was well known as the  Lowndes County tax collector, president of the Lowndes County Farmers’ Club,  and committee member on the state finance committee of the Southern Cotton Association.  He owned  much property including town lots and plantations.  It was Staten who sold lots to the government for the construction of the federal courthouse and post office in Valdosta, GA.  He owned a big plantation called  “Alue” near Valdosta.   He was a big produce shipper so securing a rail route by his Cat Creek plantation  would have been  in his interest.

But despite the influence of Staten, the support of local citizens of Rays Mill were able to secure the route for the new railroad:

At that time Mr. J.S. Swindle owned much of the land around the present site of the town. It is said that he bargained with the railroad company to give them the right of way if they would give him a station. This agreement was made and thus started the town [of Ray City].

W. T. Staten would later be among those seriously injured in the 1910 wreck of the G & F  train in Valdosta, GA.

M. W. Henderson and the Wreck of the G & F

Manassah W. Henderson

Manassah W. Henderson, Ray City, GA resident and husband of the evangelist Rebecca J. Henderson ( seeArson and Evangelism in Rays Mill, GA), was injured in a Valdosta train wreck in the summer of 1910.  He was traveling on the Georgia and Florida train, the new railroad built through Ray City in 1909.

 The train was wrecked when an engine of the Georgia Southern & Florida railroad collided with the passenger car of the Georgia & Florida  (see 1910 Train Wreck in Valdosta, GA).

Many of the injured were taken to the Halcyon Sanitarium. The Halcyon was the second hospital in Valdosta, and was said to have the finest operating facilities.

The Halcyon Sanitorium, Valdosta, GA ca. 1906.  The Halcyon, located at Troupe and Rogers Streets ,was the second hospital to open in Valdosta. Built as the home of W.B. Johnson in 1898, it was converted into a hospital by Doctor J.B.S. Holmes in 1906. In 1911 it was sold to another group of physicians and was known as Bellevue. It operated until 1915.

The Halcyon Sanitorium, Valdosta, GA ca. 1906. The Halcyon, located at Troupe and Rogers Streets ,was the second hospital to open in Valdosta. Built as the home of W.B. Johnson in 1898, it was converted into a hospital by Doctor J.B.S. Holmes in 1906. In 1911 it was sold to another group of physicians and was known as Bellevue. It operated until 1915.

The Valdosta Times
July 2, 1910  Page 2

A  DOZEN PEOPLE WERE INJURED IN A COLLISION ON A CROSSING

A Georgia Southern and Florida  Engine Ran Into a Georgia and Florida Passenger Coach,  Knocking it Fifty Feet and Bruising Up Many Of The Passengers, This Morning

   A serious wreck occurred at the crossing of the Georgia Southern and Florida and the Georgia and Florida railroads shortly before eleven o’clock this morning, injuring ten or twelve passengers more or less severely, almost demolishing the rear coach on the Georgia and Florida train which was pulling out for Madison, and badly damaging the front part of a Georgia Southern and Florida locomotive, which ran into the passenger train.

     Among those hurt in the collision were Mrs. F. R. Daniels and her little daughter, Juanita, of this city [Valdosta], Mrs. W. F. Martin, of Madison, Messrs.  J. W. West, W. T. Lane, G. M. Boyd, W. T. Staten, and Dan Thompson, of Valdosta, M. W. Henderson, of Ray’s Mill and Conductor, R. L. Lofton.  There were a few others who were slightly injured but whose names it was impossible to get in the excitement attending the wreck.

   The first news of the collision received up town came in a telephone message from the Valdosta Foundry and Machine Co.’s plant to Ham Brothers’ stables, asking them to send all the carriages in their place to the crossing of the two roads.  It was stated that a wreck had occurred there and that several people had been killed. 

     Intense excitement was created on the streets, the first rumors indicating that the wreck was much more serious than it really was.   A number of physicians were rushed to the scene and a great crowd soon gathered around the overturned coach and the big locomotive which lay with its wheels on one side buried in the earth.

     It is stated that the passenger train on the Georgia and Florida the Valdosta, Moultrie and Western train both reached the crossing about the same time, and both stopped as required by the rules.  The Madison train the pulled across the crossing, all of the train except the last coach —————–overturned ————- passengers in every direction, and was hurled or slided about sixty feet down the track, the coupling to the train then breaking and leaving one end of the coach lying across the Georgia Southern and Florida tracks, while the other end rested on the track of the Georgia and Florida.

     Many of the passengers were thrown through the windows of the overturned coach, while others made their way or were assisted from the ends of the car.  Practically every window and ventilator in the car  was smashed and a shower of flying glass struck the passengers in their faces.

     Many carriages were on the scene in a few minutes, and those passengers who were unable to walk were hastily taken to the carriages and were carried to their homes and to the hospitals for medical attention.

     The passengers sitting on the north side of the car saw the Georgia Southern and Florida engine as it bore down upon the train, and realized that a collision was inevitable, but they had barely time to clutch their seats or to more than move across the car when the impact came.

    Some of the witnesses state that apparently Engineer Burch, in charge of the G. S. and F. engine made every effort to stop, but that he had on sand in his box and that the wheels slid when he threw on the brakes.  The tracks were wet and the locomotive was going down grade, rendering it impossible, according to them, for the locomotive to be stopped in time.  Other persons state that apparently Engineer Burch did not see the train at all and that no effort was made to stop his engine.  As to which of these theories is correct The Times has no way now of knowing.

     There seems to be a wide difference of opinion as to the speed the locomotive was making.  In the opinion of some of those who saw the collision, the locomotive was moving only about six or eight miles an hour, while others think it was moving  at a much faster rate.

     The wreck occurred in an rather dangerous locality, owing to the fact that the shops of the Valdosta Foundry and Machine Company, obstructs from  the view of the trains coming from the north, a view of the tracks around the curve immediately east of the crossing.  Owing to this fact it may be that Engineer Burch did not see the Georgia and Florida train until it was on the crossing.

      The drawhead on the locomotive fastened in the car, and the pull exerted on it by the Madison train, is said to be the cause of the derailment of the engine.  The force of the collision itself was hardly sufficient to have thrown it from the track.  The tracks of both roads for a distance of a hundred feet or more, were torn and twisted, and both lines effectually blocked for several hours.

     Mr. W. T. Staten’s injuries are said to be very serious, but it is impossible at the hour The Times goes to press for the physicians to determine fully their extent.  His shoulder and left side are badly hurt, and it is feared that he has sustained internal injuries.

     Mrs. F. R. Daniel was bruised and severely shocked, while her little daughter’s face was cut and bruised in several places.  Their injuries are not believed to be serious.

     Mrs. F. L. Martin, of Madison, suffered injuries to her side and shoulder, and is suffering from the shock.

     Mr. Andrew Leslie, of Pinetta, Fla., had one bone in his left leg broken.

     Mr. Whittington, of Boston, Ga., had his left ear severely cut and was hurt in the left side.

     Capt. Lofton, Georgia and Florida conductor, was cut in the face and larynx.

     Rev. Mr. Funk of Ohio, shocked and bruised, injuries not serious.

     Mr. M. W. Henderson, of Ray’s Mill, hurt on the head, side and hip.

     Mr. J. W. West, was cut on the face, and severely bruised in the side.

     Mr. G. M. Boyd was severely bruised in one shoulder and side.  His injuries are not thought to be serious.

     Mr. W. T. Lane was cut in the face and neck, and one of his shoulders and hips badly hurt.

     A few of the passengers came out of the overturned car without a scratch, but the experience was one that none of them ———— of Mr. —————-and——————W. Sinclair from instant death was almost miraculous.  They were sitting together on the north side of the train, and started to rise as they saw the locomotive bearing down on them.  Both of them were thrown across the car and through the window to the ground, as the car turned over on them.  Fortunately they fell in an excavation, and this prevented the car from crushing them to death.

      Mr. West lost his pocket book in the wreck, containing some money and many valuable papers, the latter of no value except to himself, however.

      Most of the injured were carried to the Halcyon sanitorium [sic] for treatment,  Dr. Holmes being surgeon at this point for both the Georgia Southern and Florida and the Georgia and Florida.

                Freight Wrecked at Chula.

      The Georgia Southern passenger train due here [Valdosta] about five o’clock this morning was delayed about five hours at Chula by the wreck of a freight train, south bound.  It is said that two or three miles of trains were tied up there by the wreck.   The passenger train reached this city about half past ten o’clock and the loose engine which ran into the Georgia and Florida train was on its way to the coal chute, having run back from the depot to the main line and was rolling slowly down the main line towards the coal chute when it struck the Georgia and Florida train on the crossing.