South by Southeast... It beats flying, doesn't it?

               Dr. Thomas Howard
       Associate Professor of History
   Armstrong Atlantic State University

Historical Geography of North America - STUDY IN PROGRESS

Development of a Railroad from Savannah to Atlanta


Graduate Student Project
Fall 2011

In courses that are listed at both undergraduate and graduate levels, the graduate students are expected to do creative work beyond that which is expected of the undergraduates.  Accordingly, the two graduate students in this class will concentrate for the rest of the semester on a project to examine some aspects of railroad development in Savannah. 

This is a chance to do some research that may have practical use in 
the near future, as part of an effort to re-establish passenger rail service in southeastern Georgia.  The main focus is on establishing service between Savannah and Atlanta.

Amtrak currently runs three trains daily in each direction between Savannah and the Northeast; two of these trains go on to Florida, while the other begins and ends in Savannah.  If you have ever ridden one of these trains, you know that Savannah has a rather attractive station (1960's architecture) located in a rather sinister, even scary after dark, light industrial and warehouse district several miles west of downtown.  A particular challenge of re-establishing rail service with Atlanta

would be to create a less challenging environment for arriving and departing passengers.  The old Central of Georgia station, on MLK at Louisville Road, was recycled into the Savannah History Museum many years ago, but the tracks are still there, and the Coastal Heritage Society has shown some interest in having trains come in to that location again.

The assignment is to write a 20-page paper about the historical geography of rail service between Savannah and Atlanta, with a particular focus on the Savannah end of the line.
  • What is the history of the complex pattern of railroad tracks in Savannah?
  • What railroads built them, and when?
  • Where were Savannah's passenger stations in the early 20th century?
  • When and why was passenger service withdrawn from these locations?
  • Why was Savannah's railroad station (clearly pre-Amtrak) built where it was?
  • What route should renewed passenger service between Atlanta and Savannah take?
  • What course could trains take through the west side of the city, stopping at both the existing station (to make connections) and then coming on into town?
Feel free to work with each other in exchanging notes on sources and critiquing each other's writing.  The final production, though, must be your own.

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