The Central of Georgia Railway traced its history back to 1833, so this 125th Anniversary brochure must date from 1958 or 1959. Although many larger railroads, including the Atlantic Coast Line, Seaboard Air Line, and Southern, crossed through Georgia, the Central of Georgia had more miles of tracks in the state than any other railroad.
The center of the brochure featured the above photo of the railroad’s two streamlined trains: the Nancy Hanks II (the railway had previously operated a train called Nancy Hanks in the 1890s) and Man o’ War. It may seem strange that a Georgia railroad would name a train for Abraham Lincoln’s mother, but in fact the train was named for a champion trotting horse from Kentucky, which in turn had been named for Lincoln’s mother.
The Nancy, as locals called it, made one round trip a day over the 294 miles between Atlanta and Savannah, while the Man o’ War–which was obviously also named for a champion race horse–made two round trips per day over the 117 miles between Atlanta and Columbus, Georgia. The first 6 or 7 miles out of Atlanta were on the same tracks, which is undoubtedly where the above photo was taken. A few years after this brochure was issued, Central of Georgia acquired a former Wabash dome car and added it to the Nancy.
The Man o’ War consisted of just four Budd-built cars: two coaches, a baggage-coach, and a tavern-observation car, for a total of 152 revenue seats and 56 non-revenue seats, all pulled by a General Motors E-7 locomotive. The Nancy Hanks was built by American Car & Foundry and included the same four cars plus one more coach, for 216 revenue and 54 non-revenue seats. During its first couple of years of operation, the Nancy carried an average of 243 passengers per trip, indicating that the railroad added coaches on weekends and other special occasions.
In compliance with Jim Crow laws, the Central of Georgia segregated the coaches with blacks confined to the baggage-coach of the Man o’ War and the baggage-coach and part of the first full coach of the Nancy Hanks. Blacks weren’t even allowed to patronize the diner-lounges. Most railroads did not appreciate the extra costs these laws imposed on them, but the Central of Georgia initially refused to desegregate even after Congress passed laws against such segregation, saying federal laws didn’t apply to its passenger trains because they didn’t cross state lines.
Most of this brochure isn’t about the passenger trains but focuses on the history of the railway, including four photos of steam locomotives. The name of the brochure is “the Right Way,” a tribute to the fact that the railway had managed to survive 125 years. In fact, it had gone bankrupt twice during that time, and had been acquired by two other railroads at various times in its history. In 1963, the Southern Railway bought it and today it is apart of the Norfolk Southern.