|Adairsville was once the site of a major repair facility for the Western and Atlantic Railroad. In the Oothcaloga Valley region of Northwest Georgia the city depended on the station for employment and shipping. The area is a vast agricultural center for the entire state.
The railroad was an essential part of Adairsville. Shortly after the depot was built, the entire town moved one mile south to be nearer the station. A roundhouse was constructed near the depot to permit trains to turn around from 1845 to 1848, while construction on the Atlanta-Chattanooga run continued. In 1850, with the completion of the railroad through Tunnel Hill, the facility was converted to maintenance.
The station played a pivotal role in the Great Locomotive Chase. Leaving Kingston, James Andrews and his raiders lifted a piece of rail south of Adairsville to stop anyone pursueing the spies. They also cut the telegraph wire. Unable to reach Atlanta by telegraph for hours and now unable to reach Kingston, the Adairsville stationmaster was wary of their presence. He fired repeated questions at Andrews while they waited for a southbound freight. Finally the train arrived and as it passed the General Andrews noted the name -- "The Texas."
A few minutes after leaving Adairsville depot engineer Peter Bracken would stop for Conductor William Fuller, standing in the center of the tracks brandishing a gun. They continued south to pick up the other pursuers then returned to Adairsville in reverse to drop off the freight cars. Then they sped off after The General -- in reverse!
In May, 1864 a number of minor skirmishes are fought in the area, including the battle of Woodlands, named for the estate on which it was fought. Godfrey Barnsley, who owned the estate, was one of the people from whom Margaret Mitchell based the character Rhett Butler. Although much of the town was destroyed during the Civil War, the depot remains intact, and is one of a few antebellum depots in northwest Georgia.
After the war the station continued to serve the people of the area. In the picture above, local residents join in the "Elberta Peach Rush" in 1907. The peach crop would come in, the fruit picked, then quickly rushed to market at the same time, mostly to save on frieght costs.
Encouraged by the sucess of Barnsley Gardens, a revitalization of the Adairsville downtown began in 1994. The restored depot and the 1902 Stock Exchange are anchor sites for the restoration now underway.
The first weekend in October the city celebrates its role in The Great Locomotive Chase with a festival.
Directions:I-75 Exit 306, go west on Highway 140, across US 41, first left to business district. The depot is down this street on the right.
On Georgia's Blue and Gray Trail